One of our most loved gardening technique is the raised bed.
Easy to build and cost effective, a raised bed can instantly turn a brown thumb to green, and a challenging site into an abundant garden with beautiful flowers and delicious veggies!
Because there’s quite a lot on this topic, I am going to make this into a 2 part series.
Today we will look at all the basic hows and whys.
Next week we will explore more creative variations of building beautiful raised bed gardens. ( Update: part 2 is here. )
Let’s start with the most obvious benefit of a raised bed – ( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
1 . An instant garden can be created anywhere with minimal work.
Many backyards are not ideal garden sites, some have weeds or grass, some have poor soil or too much paving.
2 . Easy to build.
There are many ways to build a raised bed, which we will explore in Part 2 next week.
The materials are quite simple, just 1×4 or 1×6 boards, a few screws, connectors, and / or posts such as 2×4 or 4×4.
The key is to choose rot resistant wood such as Cedar, Redwood, or any local wood that has similar qualities, which can last 10 to 20 years. Certain types of pine can work, other types might be too soft. Talk to your local lumber yard.
Avoid pressure treated wood, as they may contain harmful chemicals. Some say they are safer now than before, but I personally would still go with un-treated wood.
3. Gopher proof
This is a huge plus for us. We have so many gophers here in our garden, and gophers LOVE many veggies.
We used metal stucco lath to line the bottom of our raised beds. You can also use galvanized hardware cloth like shown below from Foods for Long Life .
We stapled ours on the inside of the beds.
Chicken wire does not work as well because the holes are a bit large, and they deteriorate more quickly.
Be careful when digging. If the wires are punctured, gophers will find their way in!
This happened to us. Our broccoli plants started disappearing one day, and we saw the little mounds of soil – criminal evidence!
Luckily, it’s easy to trace a gopher tunnel. We found the punctured spot and blocked it with large rocks. No more damage after that!
4. Super Productive!
Raised bed gardens minimize soil compaction and promotes healthy root growth. When you fill a raised bed with great soil, you will be amazed at how fast each plant grows!
Which leads to our next section: tips on how to maximize the benefits of a raised bed.
1 . Soil is the key
Filling a raised bed can take a ton of soil, literally. Unless you have just a tiny bed, don’t try to fill it with bagged potting soil! It will take FOREVER! Look for bulk soil, compost or horse manure. Contractors often have free soil from excavation which they give away.
We were impatient, so we had a place delivering several cubic yards of great soil compost blend. Make sure to do some research. I have met gardeners that ended up with really bad soil delivered.
Here’s another great method, at much lower cost! Start with readily available materials, and let nature do the work! ( image: Ecofilm )
You can make your own rich soil! This method above is called lasagna gardening. There are some fabulous books on this topic, such as this one Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!
The title sums it all!
Plants use up soil, so remember to replenish with compost and add organic matter each year.
2 . plan for comfort
Gardening is hard work. Raise the raised bed to a seating height of 18″, or counter height of 36″ will make it so much easier for many people who have physical discomfort such as back pains. ( source )
3. add beauty
When planning a raised bed garden, think about multi-functions. How about garden beds that not only produces food and flowers, but also become design element that makes a garden more beautiful and inviting?
Next week I will share some great tutorials on different ways to build these raised beds and more!
If you love raised beds, you will love these 32 creative containers made from surprising materials!
Update: part 2 is here- 20 inspiring raised bed with tutorials!
Happy gardening! xo