Many garden owners have realized the advantages of raised beds, which provide a compact and organized growing space in gardens of all shapes and sizes. As the name suggests, they are flower or plant beds that are raised above the ground and filled with suitable earth or compost. Commonly created with a frame of wood or stone, a raised bed is an attractive and extremely practical solution for backyard gardens.
Creating raised beds for your own garden is fairly straightforward and can be a lot less work than breaking through an unforgiving stone or concrete surface when you are ready to start gardening. The raised bed can be built at different heights, in different shapes and filled with the best quality soil for whatever you want to grow in them. This beds described below are low rectangular beds, designed to sit several inches off the ground.
To start your raised bed you’ll need some sturdy wooden planks for the edges and posts for the corners. A suitably thick plank will mean that four posts and a few nails should be enough to create a sturdy frame. Thinner wood might be cheaper to buy but will need more support if it is to hold in the earth and keep its shape.
The size of the beds will depend very much on the space you have available. If several beds are planned then it is a good idea to leave enough space for a comfortable path between them. They should not be so big that you cannot reach easily across while standing or kneeling at the side as stepping onto them could weaken the edges and damage the plants.
Once you have decided on your measurements and location, and have your planks cut to size, you can start to build your frame. Dig a small trench around the edges, about an inch deep and just big enough to set in the edges of the planks. This will help to support them and keep them in place when the beds are filled later. Set the wooden edges in place and have someone hold them while you bang in the support posts (these should be set inside each corner of the bed).
Depending on the shape and thickness of your wooden edges you might need to add more support posts along the outside. A few nails in each corner to secure the boards together and you have your frame. This can then be filled with the compost mixture of your choice to create a fantastic growing environment for your flowers or vegetables.
Caring for your raised bed couldn’t be easier. Because of the way they are built, weeding and watering become easy and the raised earth provides better drainage than the ground soil would. Plants can be grouped together for easy care and each bed can be made with the best combination of soul and compost for the plants you want to grow there.
As an alternative to a square or rectangular raised bed made with wooden planks, you could use stones to create custom shaped edges to fit in with your garden design. Other built up garden ideas include stone spirals, beds raised up onto tables or higher and square foot gardening, which is fantastic for making the most of very small spaces.