At present, grow beds are becoming popular among a majority of gardeners. Grow beds, also known as raised beds, and are ideal for beginner gardeners. Generally, a grow bed helps in improving the soil quality, hence leading to healthier plants.
Contrary to popular belief, making a grow bed is pretty straightforward. You don’t need to hire a gardening professional to construct the grow bed for you. In this article, we look at a detailed procedure on how to make a grow bed.
What is a grow bed?
First, let’s understand the meaning of “raised bed.” A raised garden bed, or a grow bed, is a frame with an open top and bottom rooted in the soil. It is often placed in a sunny location and contains high-quality soil.
Step 1: Choose a suitable location
The first thing to do when making a grow bed is select a good location. Typically, your grow bed should be located in a sunny area. The area should receive sunlight for approximately six to eight hours.
Keep in mind that most crops thrive when exposed to sufficient sunlight. Gardening experts’ advice building a south-facing grow bed if you reside in the northern hemisphere. Doing this allows your garden to receive maximum sunlight.
On the other hand, if you live in the southern hemisphere, create a north-facing grow bed.
Step 2: Come up with a layout of the grow bed
One of the best things about a grow bed is that you can customize it to match your garden size. If you have a small garden, you can create a small garden size. Also, the design of your garden bed often depends on the layout of your yard.
There are zero design limitations when it comes to making a grow bed. At the end of the day, ensure that your grow bed layout complements your yard.
How deep should a grow bed be?
Generally, a grow bed should be approximately 12 inches deep. Nonetheless, you can make the raised bed deeper if possible. Doing this will yield better results. Needless to say, the depth of your grow bed will depend on the plants you are growing.
For instance, if you are growing tomatoes from seed, it would be best to make a grow bed that runs up to 4 feet deep. Deeper raised beds enable plants to grow to their maximum potential. So, for the best results, build beds that are 18 to 24 inches deep.
Should I leave the bottom of my grow bed open?
Most gardeners often wonder whether they should block the bottom of their grow beds. Well, this depends on your preference. It is advisable to line the bottom of your grow bed with landscape fabric. Doing this helps you prevent the growth of weeds. Also, it prevents pests from attacking your plants.
Step 3: Identify the type of frame you want for the grow bed
The next thing to do is to determine your lumber needs. Identify the kind of wood you wish to use and the total size of the wood needed for the entire project. Ensure the wood you choose is durable. Gardening experts often advise using cedar and redwood for grow beds.
These are high-quality wood options that can last for more than a decade. However, if you choose wood, you need to ensure you treat it with a sealer from time to time. It would be best to purchase wood that has the FSC mark. The Forest Stewardship Council mark qualifies wood that only comes from good forests.
You can also create a grow bed from concrete, cinder, galvanized metal, and bricks. The material you choose will depend on your requirements and preferences. Conduct thorough research on the best grow bed materials you can use.
Step 4: Buy all the materials you need for the grow bed
When making a grow bed, ensure you purchase the right supplies. Other than purchasing wood, ensure you have screws, hammers, and other garden equipment needed to build the grow bed.
After purchasing your supplies, cut them into the sizes you need. For instance, if you buy lumber, divide it into pre-measured pieces to fit the length and width of your desired grow bed.
Step 5: Assemble the shorter ends of the raised garden bed first
Start building the grow bed by positioning the shorter sides of the wood. Place the shorter sides of the lumber in the selected location. Push them into the ground for sturdiness. Do the same with the longer sides of the grow bed. Use a tape measure to ensure you have the correct spacing or get some pallets.
Step 6: Join the shorter boards with the long boards
Join the longer sides of the grow bed with the shorter sides. Use screws and hammers to join all the corners. Tighten the screws to ensure the bed remains firm on the ground.
Step 7: Line the bottom of the grow bed using landscape fabric (optional)
Now that you have your grow bed, it is time to line the bottom. Use landscape fabric to line the bottom of your bed. Although this step is optional, it will protect your plants from bugs and weeds.
If you have burrowing pests in your garden, add an extra hardware cloth at the bottom to prevent them from reaching your plants. A hardware cloth is generally made from strong galvanized metal.
Therefore, you need not worry about the cloth rusting on your plants. Additionally, rodents like gophers, rats and squirrels won’t be able to chew this metal.
Step 8: Position the grow bed accordingly
- After lining the bottom:
- Ensure the grow bed is in the right position.
- Ensure the bed sits in the right position.
- Position the bed such that it promotes an even distribution of water. If you have a slanting surface, dig it out to make sure it’s even.
Step 9: Fill the grow bed with soil
The final step is to pour quality soil into the bed. Consider purchasing quality potting mix from your nearest garden store for your grow bed. Typically, your soil should have excellent water retention and drainage properties. Ensure you identify all the requirements of your plants to determine the right soil type to use.
Benefits of Raised Garden Beds
Why do gardeners prefer to grow beds over standard gardens or planting containers?
Below, we look at some of the advantages of using a grow bed.
- They prolong your planting season:
A grow bed often warms up early during spring. Thus, it gives you an extended planting season. Remember, the soil is usually raised slightly above the ground; thus, it is in a better position to warm up more quickly. When growing plants in raised beds, you have more control over your plants. Subsequently, you can always plant a wide range of plants.
Grow beds offer better protection against weeds since they are in an elevated position. The soil in a grow bed usually stays compacted due to minimal human interference. You won’t need to keep digging to break the soil now and then.
Raised garden beds are easier to use compared to standard gardens. When growing plants in a raised garden bed, you won’t have to keep bending and kneeling to tend to your plants. These gardens, therefore, consume less gardening effort.
- Ideal for small spaces:
As mentioned earlier, raised garden beds can fit into the smallest spaces. You can customize your grow bed to match your yard design and space. There is a broad spectrum of size and shape options when it comes to grow beds. Ultimately, you can always create a grow bed in any yard space.
- Protection against pests and weeds:
A grow bed helps you protect your plants against pests and diseases. The landscape fabric used to line the bottom of a grow bed acts as a weed barrier. As a result, a grow bed keeps your plants healthy throughout the entire planting season. Even so, you still need to keep monitoring your plants from time to time to ensure they are safe from weeds and pests.
- Temporary structures:
One of the main benefits of having a grow bed is that you can always dismantle it after the end of the planting season. Therefore, if your landlord does not allow the construction of a permanent garden, you can still practice gardening by creating a raised garden bed.
- Source of aesthetics:
A grow bed is an excellent source of aesthetics. If you want to make your garden more attractive, consider building a grow bed. If you live in the city, building a grow bed is a great way to bring a naturalistic view to your backyard.
- Ideal for beginners:
Grow beds are perfect for garden beginners. This is because they give gardeners an easy planting process. Remember, raised garden beds offer excellent drainage and protection from bugs and weeds. Thus, you won’t have to put in a lot of work if you are a beginner gardener.
Disadvantages of raised garden beds
- Cost money to build:
Unlike standard gardens, you need to spend money to make a grow bed. Generally, you need to buy wood, and other building equipment for your grow bed. On average, it costs $200 to $400 to construct a grow bed. Of course, the cost usually depends on the type of material you use for your grow bed.
- Needs more watering:
Grow beds generally require more watering. This is because they are usually above ground, so they are more exposed to the sun. Thus, if you don’t want your plants to become wilted, you need to water them frequently.
- Less sustainable:
Very few grow beds will sustain you for an extended period. Unlike standard gardens, grow beds are not permanent. You may have to take them down at the end of each planting season. The longevity of your grow bed depends on the construction materials you use.
Start you simple grow bed
Creating a grow bed is not as complex as most people think. All you have to do is have the right materials and follow the right construction procedure. If you are a beginner gardener, consider building a grow bed. Grow beds make planting easier and enable you to obtain a plentiful harvest.