How to build a raised garden bed
Not everyone has the space to experiment with gardening, which leads many to believe growing your own vegetables and flowers is a lost cause. That’s where a raised garden bed comes into play.
With a raised garden bed, you can transform a small space into a gorgeous garden. Raised garden beds are easier to establish and maintain than traditional gardens, and you can put them just about anywhere: your back porch, your apartment balcony, even your front yard.
Location for a raised garden bed
Consider your space
How much space do you have for your new gardening venture? Most raised garden beds are 4 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet long. Some beds sit directly on the ground, like the one we’re going to show you how to make. Others are table-style garden beds, which you can easily purchase if you don’t want to make your own.
One of our favorite table-style garden beds is made by Greenes Fence. It’s smaller than the standard ground-resting bed at 4 feet long and 2 feet wide, but for some people, it’s the perfect size.
Consider sunlight exposure
Space is not the only consideration when deciding where to put a garden bed. Most plants need at least six hours of sunlight per day to fare well. Spend a day or two monitoring the degree of sunlight received by various areas of your outdoor space to determine where your chosen plants would thrive.
What you’ll need to build a raised garden bed
If you choose to build your own raised garden bed, you’re going to need a few materials and tools:
- Rebar or sturdy garden posts
- Rubber mallet
- Deck screws
- Flattened cardboard boxes
- High-quality topsoil
Steps to build a raised garden bed
Gather your lumber. We recommend four planks of wood: two 2 x 12s that are 10 feet long and two 2 x 12s that are 4 feet long. Use these planks to assemble a rectangular frame on the ground.
With your rubber mallet, hammer the rebar or garden stakes into the ground in such a way that they support the vertical standing planks. We suggest placing two stakes on each of the longer sides and one stake on each of the shorter sides. Your bed should now be taking shape.
Line the inside of your bed with flattened cardboard boxes. Wet the boxes.
Fill your boxes with a mixture of quality garden soil and compost. If you don’t compost, now is a great time to start. One of our favorite composters is made by Miracle-Gro. Within four to six weeks, it breaks down compost with the help of its efficient internal mixing bars, and it holds nearly 18.5 gallons at a time — helpful to have on hand for your gardening projects.
Now the fun part: it’s time to plant. A raised bed that receives lots of sunlight is an apt place to grow vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash. If you want to plant fruits, consider planting strawberries and melons like cantaloupe and honeydew. Herbs like basil and rosemary also thrive in bright sun, as do flowers like geraniums and zinnias.
A raised bed in partial shade is conducive to growing carrots, lettuce and other leafy greens. Impatiens, hostas, hellebores, and ferns also grow beautifully in a shaded raised bed.
- When choosing your lumber, bear in mind that cedar and redwood are water-resistant. Hemlock and pine cost less and are easier to find, but they are not as durable.
- You can make your garden bed any shape you want, but remember you’ll need to be able to reach across it. For this reason, most garden beds are no more than 4 feet wide.
- Instead of wooden planks, you can also use cinder blocks, bricks, or stones to frame a raised garden bed.
- Plant onions and chives to deter bunnies, chipmunks, and other foragers who may fancy your garden bed to be their salad bar.
- The best time to do your watering is the morning. This is because the sun hasn’t been out long enough to evaporate the water you put in. If you’re not an early bird, consider using a water timer to make watering a seamless task.
Melissa Nott is a writer for BestReviews, a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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