Building Raised Beds that Last

, written by Jeremy Dore gb flag

Building a raised bed

In the UK and in many parts of the world raised beds have become almost synonymous with the renewed popular interest in vegetable gardening. Gardening catalogs are full of raised bed kits which they claim will get you ‘set up in minutes’ and enjoying your own fresh vegetables without all the hassle of digging or weeding. Not all of these promises are true – raised beds still require hard work in my experience – but there are good reasons why they might work well in your garden. Having gardened using raised beds and a standard flat plot, here’s my guide to deciding if they’re the best option for you and building successful, long-lasting raised beds...

Are Raised Beds Right for Your Garden?

Raised beds don’t suit every garden type. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of this gardening method before committing money and time to such a large DIY project:

Benefits of Raised Beds

  • Improved Drainage: Because the soil in a raised vegetable bed is higher than the surrounding area water will naturally drain out from it. This is very useful in situations where drainage is a problem – particularly on clay soils and waterlogged vegetable plots.
  • Family Friendly: Not treading on soil can help keep the soil structure good for seedlings and reduce or eliminate the need for digging. Keeping children and pets from damaging your prize plants can be a challenge but raised beds clearly separate the growing area from the paths in a way that’s clear even to toddlers.
  • Improved Soil: Once a raised bed has been created, you can easily fill it with whatever rich soil and compost you have available. This is much easier than having to dig it into existing ground and often gardeners will fill it with sterile compost giving the vegetables a head-start over the weed seeds that will inevitably come.
  • Intensive Planting: With raised beds that are 30cm (12 inches) or higher the extra root depth can provide nutrients for more vegetables allowing you to space them closer. This makes it harder for weeds to establish themselves, significantly reducing the amount of weeding that needs to be done. This is one of the main principles of the Square Foot Gardening method which has become very popular among backyard gardeners.
Filling raised beds with compost

Disadvantages of Raised Beds

  • More Expensive: There’s no getting around it, raised beds cost more than traditional vegetable plots. If you use wood then they will eventually need replacing so it’s important to work out the cost and how many years’ use you will get from them.
  • Requiring Irrigation: Because of the increased drainage raised beds often need much more water during warm weather which can require extra work or expensive irrigation systems. This is why the Square Foot Gardening method advocates mixing in vermiculite which helps retain moisture, although I prefer not to use it as it’s not a renewable resource.
Raised bed corner
Galvanized screws hold the bed sides in place

Long-lasting Vegetable Beds

Having decided to use raised beds the next question to consider is what material to build them from. The options are:

  • Wood: Attractive and easy to install, wood has only one disadvantage – it rots. Some woods last better than others (e.g. cedar) but may cost more and come from unsustainable sources. Various treatments to preserve wood are available but many contain substances that can be dangerous near edible plants. For further details see my article on Treating Wood for Vegetable Gardens.
  • Concrete / Brick / Stone: This is the long lasting option but there’s one snag – in my experience slugs and snails love to overwinter in the little crevices within all hard building materials. I have friends who tried to overcome this by using rough roofing tiles in the hope that slugs wouldn’t like crawling up them but no, it takes more than that to defeat a slug!
  • Plastic / Composites: There’s an increasing range of plastic options available. Some of the better ones are made by Link-a-bord who use recycled UPVC so it’s as tough as coated window frames and lasts a long time. With an air gap in the middle they claim it also helps insulate plants from frost. However, they are expensive.

My raised beds are in our front garden, so I chose wood as it looks nice and was easy to produce non-standard bed shapes. I decided to not treat the wood but as I didn’t want to be replacing it every few years I used thicker sections than is normally sold for raised beds – 2" x 6" timber doesn’t cost a lot more as it’s a standard building size but it lasts much longer.

Constructing the Raised Beds

For standard rectangular beds it’s quite possible to butt the ends together and quickly construct a box shape that can then be positioned onto the ground. Where the ground is not so even or for irregular shaped beds I found it better to drive a square wooden stake into the ground at each corner (use a wooden mallet) and then attach the raised bed sides to that. Stakes can be bought or made from 2" x 2" wood.

Building a raised bed

Rather than driving nails into the wood, which can easily split it, a better option is to purchase decking screws which will be galvanized to prevent rust. First a pilot hole slightly thinner than the screw shank is drilled into the timber sides of the bed. Then an electric screwdriver can be used to drive each screw into the post, clamping the two together if necessary to prevent a gap forming and to get a tight fit.

If persistent perennial weeds are a problem then a layer of weed-suppressant fabric can be laid at the bottom. There needs to be good drainage and the wooden sides need to ‘breathe’ so sheet plastic isn’t advisable.

Once the beds are completed it’s time to fill them with good quality compost or soil. For large areas the best option is often to buy recycled compost by the tonne as it is surprising just how much soil is required. Look for good quality potting soil or topsoil that will add plenty of nutrients and retain moisture. This can be topped up every few years to add new nutrients and raise the level where the soil has settled down.

It’s almost two years since I spent a long weekend adding raised beds to my front garden and I’m pleased to say that the thicker wood appears to have paid off – they are holding out very well and I expect to get another 5 – 10 years use from them. After two seasons of crops I would definitely say my raised beds have been a success. For a larger garden or allotment I might look at other options but for enriching soil and helping children access the garden without damaging it they are perfect.

If you have any tips on how to build good raised beds please add them below...

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Comments

 
"Would be interested in comments as to how to protect early spring plants and or late fall plants from the frost. I live in south where it does get frosts, my raised gardens are about hip high. Any suggestions on doing this without a lot of hassel? I put up vertical posts and attached heavy clear plastic, however it is a problem covering and uncovering them. I am in my 70s and looking for a (perhaps) better way."
just me, on Friday 14 January 2011
"For "just me" I would suggest either a large greenhouse or polytunnel with netted ventilation. This would allow many gardeners (not just the older ones!) a more protected growing area within which raised beds could be placed. Watch out for diseases, though, as it will spread more prolifically in such a closed area! Also, older people might consider doing a deal or bargain with younger, fitter gardeners to share the harvests and/or costs. My own raised beds come from recycled wooden pallets and they are doing very well indeed. The plastic pallets are harder to come by, but I imagine those could last longer than you could garden for."
Kevin on Friday 14 January 2011
"Kevin, many thanks for your quick answer! What are polytunnels you made reference to, I have not heard this term used before? Are there plans available for economical PVC greenhouses on your site? Or could you or some other reader recommend a site?"
just me, on Saturday 15 January 2011
"Re: "just me" - Polytunnels are like plastic greenhouses. Essentially they are large hoops onto which plastic is tautly fastened onto the hoops. You can make them any size you want which is ideal if you have specific requirements such as large access or height and so on. The materials are important: they need to be UV-stabilised and the hoops can create hot-spots where it meets with the plastic and so you need some heat-resistant tape there. Light-transmission falls by around 10-20% depending on the plastic you choose. So there are lots of things to thinks about, but in my opinion, not much more so and the big thing about polytunnels is they are relatively cheaper *but* the plactic has a short life-span of around 5 years or so, depending on weather, stress and abuse factors. I have found using the garden planner a great way to make the best use of my space as I need to make sure that I don't make a financial loss of the costs of gardening against the value of harvest I make. It's also a fantastic way to garden without being too bothered by the weather. It is possible to do this diy-style but be prepared for set-backs. The professional kits is the way I would go. Raised beds within the polytunnel and greenhouse also works well, especially if you are creating a micro-environment ie hotter, more humid growing conditions and so on. If you have the cash spare, I'd say go for it!"
Kevin Hannan on Saturday 15 January 2011
"Great article. Good clean, untreated scaffolding planks can be obtained very cheaply now because of the collapse of the building industry, especially here in Ireland. These should last a few years."
gardening.ie on Saturday 15 January 2011
"I used cedar for my raised beds and I filled it with a mixture of different kinds of compost and peat moss (directions were from Square Foot Gardening Association). But as the article says, it's amazing just how much of this stuff is needed. When I first mixed all these different composts, etc together on a big tarp, I thought I had way too much for the 2 beds I was working on. Well, I just made it filling 2 beds at the time. And ended up adding before planting. WOW!"
Kimmy on Saturday 15 January 2011
"Great, thank you so much for the info. I by the way have cedar wood, I live in a place in Tx. that is near the gulf. Lots of humidity. When I can I like to buy something that will last. Again Thanks. :)"
just me, on Saturday 15 January 2011
"Just Me: My husband and I were able to build a lightweight cover out of 1/2" PVC pipe and 6mil plastic. There is a video on YouTube called "Build a Greenhouse for Under $25". Don't let the word "build" fool you, you aren't really building as much as you are "assembling" so it's very easy and all the materials are lightweight. Good luck!!"
FarmsteadMama on Tuesday 18 January 2011
"Oh great, I love seeing how something is done, much more effective for me. Simple is what I need and Like! Thanks for the YouTube video tip. Can't wait to view it."
justme on Friday 21 January 2011
"RE: Building materials for the raised beds. I am pondering whether or not using the relatively new type of "Composite" Deck Boards for the sides would a smart long term solution. These Composite deck boards are about 1" Thick and 6" wide and made of a mix of Plastics and other materials that should last about 4 times longer than ANY type of wood product. They would probably require a bit more "Staking Support" due to their thinner size. Also using Metal or "Composite" Stakes may also be necessary, as wood staking wood be a "Weak Link" in the Quest for Longevity. Do you see any issues with the idea in using the "Composite" materials ? "
Jeff on Friday 21 January 2011
"Jeff: we have a deck made entirely of composite and the downside I can see to using it in the garden is that it gets HOT. It heats up and holds that heat for far longer than natural wood. I would use bare wood and milk paint :o)"
FarmsteadMama on Friday 21 January 2011
"I would be interested to see what raised beds made out of recycled pallets looks like? I can get hold of them easily and would like to do raised beds."
Liz on Friday 21 January 2011
"Another option for frost is a frost proofing cloth product like Agribon. Johnny's Seed carries quite a few weight and lengths but I'm sure there are suppliers "across the pond" since it's used heavily in agriculture. You can also build tunnels out of electrical conduit using a bender to bend it. The benders can even bend fence posts if you get the correct one so making your own high tunnel is possible."
Barri Montgomery on Friday 21 January 2011
"Johnny's Seed also has a clip that can attach the cover to a 3/4" pvc pipe to create a high tunnel. I've been looking into creating something like this for the fall to extend my growing season. "
Kimmy on Friday 21 January 2011
"Jeff we used the rasied beds last year and went with the 2X6 wood. Overall it went well however the later in the summer the harder the soil was and at some point the plants stopped growing and actually shriveled in the roots. It appeared that even though we used a high quality compost there was not enoung of something in the dirt to prevent the soil from packing down and choking out the roots. What do you suggest to add in the soil to help. "
Ginny on Friday 21 January 2011
"I used gavel boards which come in various sizes and also built them in standard sizes to accommodate bed liners from Harrod Horticultural. That stops weeds growing from below where I have placed the beds, over a former old lawn. I did also screw post at the corners and then stretched wire to support netting so that birds and animals were excluded, one problem I did not take the nets down before we had snow, so I will have to do some repairs in the next month or two! David Pointer"
David Pointer on Friday 21 January 2011
"Ginny, there's not enough info about your original soil to suggest a solution - although it is easy enough to hazard a guess that if your soil is compacted you could use inert products like perlite, clay, coir and shredded newspaper. There will be arguments as to which is best, but I find any that works well and is cheap enough is a good enough answer for me. As it happens, I use masses of shredded newspapers in all of my beds to good growing effect (about 15% by volume). I hope this helps."
Kevin on Friday 21 January 2011
"For the person that was intereste in building the raised beds out of pallets, I did just that. We used the more heavy duty pallets you can get from the HVAC places because a lot of times they are made with untreated oak. I have had them 2 years now. some boards are starting to warp, but they are in Nebraska weather and the warpage has not affected the gardens yet. We used the top slats to frame my 2 1/2 foot beds I built all the way around the fence and the bottom boards for the larger beds. We drilled holes and anchored them to the ground with rebar and deck screws. Good luck "
n fricke on Friday 21 January 2011
"There is a great youtube site called growingyourgreens.com. This guy turned his whole front lawn into raised beds and he also tells you how to do the irrigation. He's in Sonoma California, but the principles apply for any gardener. Check it out. I have learned a lot from this guy."
n fricke on Friday 21 January 2011
"I have a problem here with Bermuda grass getting under the wood frames of my beds and into the siol of the bed, and boy once that happens, it's impossible to get it out. So, I had an idea to use wheat straw bales (which are ugly, yes, but this is in the back corner of my yard). i figure it will provide me a wide buffer and I can fill in the interior with compost and plant into that. Any comments? "
ALM on Saturday 22 January 2011
"I have seen where if you lay down cardboard before filling the beds it kills the weeds underneath and eventually will decompose. I wish I would have done this with the last beds I built because I have a trumpet vine that lived there prior to us digging the area up and it is coming up in my beds. Also, I use about 3 inches of woodchips around my beds and it totally keeps weeds out. Plus, it's nice not having to deal with mud, and it is easy on the knees when you are planting and weeding. Hope this helps."
n fricke on Saturday 22 January 2011
"Yes, thanks for mentioning using the cardboard sheeting and woodchip. Cardboard doesn't work for persistent perennial weeds though so the trumpet vine might still have got through but it is a good first step, particularly when building beds on very weedy areas."
Jeremy Dore on Sunday 23 January 2011
"Re: n fricke - Trumpet vine: I've had this years ago along with other similar 'pest' plants but I liked them so I kept them. Eradicating it intrigued me so I did a quick Google and found this possible solution; having not tried it myself I don't know how effective it is although I do believe it would work. Essentailly, the vines roots are prolific, apparently going down as much as 4 feet and 3 feets round the parent plant. Any scraps of root left will propagate into a new plant. Here is the quote: "Here is how I've learned you can get rid of it. Now, up until this point I had NEVER used herbicides or pesticides in the garden. Here's what I did and you can do to get rid of it. Put about an inch of Round Up Weed and Grass Killer Super Concentrate (you could also use Brush B Gone) in a clear plastic container with a tight fitting lid like you might get at the deli with potato salad. Cut a slit in the lid and insert the tips of the vine in the solution when in active growth (has leaves on it and the leaves need to be in the solution). Leave the vines in the solution for 48 hours and then cut the vines near the lid. To remove the vine from the lid, be sure and take the container to a safe place so that no solution splashes on anything precious. You can reuse the solution until it is all absorbed. Everytime I find a new sprout I do this same procedure. So far in 3 years there have been no sprouts from areas that were treated this way." I'm sorry in advance to the owners of this wonderful website if I broke any rules regarding quotes etc, please advise if this is the case. I hope this idea helps you, n fricke!"
Kevin on Sunday 23 January 2011
"Hi. There are some great ideas here...I am currently putting together a booklet about the virtues of raised beds for our local community. Which will hopefully get more people involved in veggie growing. If anyone has any images of their own raised bed creations to share for the leaflet I would love to add them, with full credit to the gardeners....You can send them to info@gardening.ie and I will send you a big thank you....Ian"
Ian on Sunday 23 January 2011
"Kevin,Thanks for the suggestions on the trumpet vine. Yes, they are very invasive. Popping up all over even though the main plant is gone. Happy growing! "
n fricke on Sunday 23 January 2011
"RoundUp?? OMG NO!!! Please try vinegar first. Apply in the heat of the day for best results. We kill Cogon grass that way with much success. RoundUp poisons the water supply my friends!"
FarmsteadMama on Sunday 23 January 2011
"I wouldn't use any chemicals near a veggie garden. Remember, you're going to eat the food thats growing where you are putting that nasty stuff."
Kimmy on Sunday 23 January 2011
"Yes, vinagar does work for many types of weeds. It is also good for roses, if weakened and poured around the base of them. I have even put my tomatoe skins and any unused juices from canning tomatoes, around my acid loving bushes. They loved it. "
just me on Sunday 23 January 2011
"Good points. I will definately try the vinegar. I already use it for almost everything. "
n fricke on Monday 24 January 2011
"Hi, I have great success using thick layers of wet newspaper on the bottom followed by layers of organic materials....feed the soil. I have started flower beds on top of turf using this approach....top off with wood chips...works great and plants were very happy. Thanks for the great info on building raised beds. Don't forget the great benefits of raised beds for our special needs population....build them wheelchair height......bad backs etc. Egarden"
Eileen on Tuesday 25 January 2011
"Re trumpet vine, I was told to use salt in a hole in the base of the vine. I haven't tried this yet because the original monster sits right at the base of a huge pecan tree. In south Texas, keeping bermuda out of raised beds (I have 18) is strictly temporary. Use the Ruth Stout method of heavy mulch year 'round. Not perfect, but far better than everything else I have tried, plus you will conserve water and feed the soil."
Terry Fitzgerald on Monday 31 January 2011
"Hi, I have been gardening for over 30 years now, and enjoy experimenting with old and new techniques. Our present raised beds are made of untreated spruce and pine, rested on a sand base. I(and hubby and tractor) dug down 2 feet, laid landscaping fabric(some biodegradable and some not so much)and then filled with local soil and compost. The beds are 12 inches above ground and 4 wide 8 feet deep. We also cobbled together irregular raised beds with very old barn boards, using wooden pegs we pounded into the ground to hold the boards. this was fast simple and effective. A thorough weeding in barely spring, when the ground below 2 inches is still frozen, and regular weeding (as I wander with my morning coffee) keeps the total of 7 beds quite free of weeds. I also underplant with arugula, corn plant, marigolds, herbs, and lettuces for quick eating. The final weeding of all beds I do in very late autumn, well after a couple of hard frosts. This one is a good time to ferret out all the subsoil rooots of grasses and some of the more persnickety weeds trying to set down for overwintering subsoil. I enjoy combining annual + perrenial flowers, fruits and vegetables to make the beds fun and visually appealing. I soil test each fall and spring, adjusting with what is needed. The chickens and horses donate, and bone meal is available locally as well. I also cut and spliced our drip-hoses to exactly fit the beds so I can selectivly turn on the water to meet the needs of the veggie and flower residents. We use different mulches to conserve moisture, and apply them overtop of our drip-hoses.. Mostly woodchips from our land, but for tomatoes and peppers I have been using and reusing the same red plastic mulch for the last 6 years. All mulches are used in combination with row covers, and cloches or different types. When my plastic mulch becomes ratty, it gets chopped up and incorporated into cement sculptures. When the natural mulches are done, they are composted with the fresh animal manure. They are converted in 3 years to soil and incorporated back into the beds and the flat garden areas. I love the raised beds, and although a bit labour intensive to set up once done they are simple to maintain, rotate crops, and so very easy to harvest... Happy gardening to all from St. Raymond, Québec Canada.."
Patricia Scarr on Tuesday 8 March 2011
"There are so many ways to build raised beds, and there is something for every budget and "look". To me, the best way to go on any project is to recycle or "re-purpose" as many materials as you can.(more money for other things. I like that) For example, most folks use wood for their raised beds, or products made to look like wood. You can go to your local builders store and pay for brand new top of the line timber but you dont have to do it that way even if your budget allows you to! Use "barter" when you can. Here in North Carolina we have access to a number of bartering groups. Nationally, there is Craigslist. Always watch for people wanting to get rid of lumber, and you just might have something to trade for the wood you need. Watch construction sites of all kinds. So much wood is thrown away and if you find the contractor and ask nicely, he will likely let you take what you want since he has to pay to have it hauled away! Another great item is pallets. They come in all sizes and can be used in so many ways, including raised beds. Every big box store uses them for stock, so just find the person in charge and ask... you are likely to go home with more than you can use! (in a pinch, they are great firewood too) Then you have weed barrier cloth. Why spend your hard earned dollars when newspaper works just as well. Put several layers of newspaper,(dont use any shiny paper, just plain, thin newsprint) and wet it lightly as you go. Be sure to overlap and it will last for many, many years.Use care when laying the paper so there are no tears and wet it well at first then cover with a thin layer of soil. Viola! Money in the bank! You can also use flattened out cardboard boxes, and they work especially well on garden paths covered with mulch. Finally, you know all those yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream plastic containers we use? Save them, poke a couple holes in the bottom (I put the holes on the side of the containers so that a bit of water will stay at the bottom for the plants)fill them with dirt and bingo-bango you have planting containers for everything! All your starts will have plenty of room to grow and spread roots and you can save and re-use them every year. All you need is the planting soil... and you can use different types of soil based on the needs of the plants you want to grow. Happy gardening for 2011 everyone, and be gentle on the earth by using as much re-purposed materials as you can. It saves you money, and better still, saves our planet by reducing your carbon footprint. May your harvests be abundant and free of chemicals! Happy days from the Asheville North Carolina mountain area. "
Barb H. on Sunday 24 April 2011
"I have raised my raised beds to 40 and 50 cms high by one metre square. This is because my hips are not that good these days on bending, so I can reach quite nicely at those heights. Also I leave a few millimeters of space at the top so that the seeds have a small amount of protection from the winds or I can lay some glass over the top for assisted growth. I use recycled wood of different sorts and sizes which I collect from the roofing company near to me. They only burn the wood, would you believe, so I make sure I get first offer.I have also had some nails for years so I can now usefully use them on making the beds. I also made up some triangular "polytunnels" out of old clear plastic sheeting I had knocking around. I use these to warm the soil.I make my own compost out of anything that was once living, except meat or bones. Its great fun this growing lark and the best bit is the taste of the produce! Unbeatable."
Vic Farrer on Wednesday 11 January 2012
"Some great suggestions here. I used cheap (3 dollars each) landscape timbers; notched them like lincoln logs and ran a stick of rebar through each joint to make the frame. Easier than it sounds. I used stucco netting to line the bed before soil (for gophers) and then lined the inside walls of the bed with thick (6 ml) plastic. This helps keep the water in, weeds out and helps preserve the wood. I capped the landscape timbers with painted 2 x 6's. I figured about $200.00 a bed when done for a bed that was about 330 sq. ft. That's less than a dollar a sq. ft. "
Paul on Wednesday 11 January 2012
"I have just moved to by the sea in SW Scotland and on a hill, so growing veg is be a bit tricky. My husband has built me wooden raised beds using 4"x2" wood. The beds are 12' x 4' and filled with riddled soil, compost and horse muck. To get the soil level the heights of the beds vary, maybe 4" at back while front maybe 12". (using more wood at front). The wind here can be tremendous, so I have made wind breaks using medium stakes with the green wind break material attached to them. I cut the roll in half length ways gave me wind breaks approx 2'(saves money as it goes further). Some of the beds have 2 long lengths and 2 short lengths either end, others only 1 short length depending on where the bed is. This means either I can take down the wind breaks to weed/pick veg etc, or lean over it! This has been very successful so far. I have bought some cheap net curtains to cut up and try the same, or maybe make a net poly-tunnel (the real thing blew away twice!)I have done the same thing to protect the fruit bushes over the winter. May look a bit strange, but its worked beautifully! The netting is either staped onto the stakes or I use those plastic rip ties"
Feeza on Wednesday 18 January 2012
"I've been so inspired by raised beds as they make growing beds so much more organised, the soil warms up faster in spring and the soil doesn't get compacted by walking on it. I have finally finished my Raised Vegetable Bed Handbook and would really like to thank everyone who gave their time, knowledge and photo's to me to make what I hope is the only e-book you will ever need on the subject to get you started on the rewarding raised bed path. You can see the first chapter here: http://raisedvegbeds.com "
Ian on Wednesday 18 January 2012
"Has anyone built raised beds using old railroad ties? I just moved to a place that has no flower beds, garden areas.... nothing. So I get to build it all from scratch. "
Michelle on Sunday 5 February 2012
"To Michelle, You may want to rethink railroad ties. They are soaked in creosole which leaks into the soil for years. Not the best thing if you are going orgainc. I think they are ok if it is just a flower garden. "
nadine on Sunday 5 February 2012
"I used railroad ties as a border for my flowers, it worked great sxcept for the odor when it gets hot. I would say in the north they would work great. In the warmer states pehaps not as great."
just me on Sunday 5 February 2012
"I can't wait to start... you all gave me such great idea!! Thank You! What do people feel is the best size. I'm starting from scratch and think the 4 ft by 8 ft sounds good. How much room to walk between beds? I can make them 3 by 6ft or what ever I want. "
Val on Friday 30 March 2012
"I can't wait to start... you all gave me such great idea!! Thank You! What do people feel is the best size. I'm starting from scratch and think the 4 ft by 8 ft sounds good. How much room to walk between beds? I can make them 3 by 6ft or what ever I want. "
Val on Friday 30 March 2012
"HELP needed!! I have recently moved to a new house and have dug out an are of 6mx8m to have as a veg plot. however the soil is heavy clay and waterlogged now so i havent been able to plant anything! some people have advised raised beds but i am getting conflicting suggestions as to how to do it. some say just make sure the clay is level, then put the frames in and fill with topsoil. my worry with this is that surely when it rains the water will drain through the top soil but then just sit on the bottom where it meets the clay and camt go anywhere! so could any one give me step by step, idiot proof instructions as to what exactly i need to do please! how deep do i dig, do i remove some of the clay, do i use a membrane at the bottom, do i need toput gravel at the bottom etc etc. Please help, as i am at my wits end!!"
eva cook on Friday 27 April 2012
"Do I need to dig up or kill the grass before I fill my raised garden w/soil."
Pat on Friday 4 May 2012
"Can I use Round-UP to kill the grass where I am planning to put a raised bed, 3 feet by 6 Feet by 10" deep? I will be putting a loam/compost mix 10" deep in the bed. Should I cover the dead sod with a landscape fabric before filling the bed? How long should I wait between killing the sod and filling the bed with soil? I didn't want to do it this way but the person I am doing it with thought it was the most expedient solution. I am just worried about any Round-Up from the dead grass coming in contact with the roots of the new plants (mostly vegies). Please advise. "
Sandra Ruth on Thursday 24 May 2012
"Hi Sandra. There will be no need to use weedkiller. When starting the bed put down a thick layer of either paper or cardboard, this will kill off the grass, then place the soil on top of this. Using weedblock will prevent deep root penetration of certain plants and will also not need to be used, although it could be used for paths. The whole process of creating raised beds can be kept simple and hopefully without the need of chemicals and too much financial expense...scaffolding planks are only 2 euro each at the moment and you only need 3 to get a bed started! "
Ian at gardening.ie on Thursday 24 May 2012
"Check out a cool photo of a garden full of raised beds here: http://www.grass2greens.com/Services___Consultations.html I think its inspiring and I want to do a yard like that someday."
ry on Tuesday 12 June 2012
"Please make those beds 3 feet wide rather than 4. Now, of an age, t'would be easier to have made them 3."
nancy frederick on Tuesday 7 July 2015
"My area of VA has a major vole problem. Have moved many times to many different parts of USA and VA is the only state I am having a problem. I like raised beds, also getting to an age when bending over is getting to be a problem. Am putting in a patio and the landscaper I am working with suggests putting paving stones under the raised beds section, as well as the rest of the patio sections. I am worried about the drainage."
Carol on Thursday 14 April 2016

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