Homemade Raised Beds

Overview

Whether you are flower gardening or vegetable gardening, you can easily create raised garden beds consisting largely of items you may already have around the house. Like compost heaps, raised garden beds can incorporate a large amount of yard waste. Instead of waiting for the waste to decompose, use items like grass clippings and dried leaves instead of expensive store-bought bark as mulch. You can also use old newspapers, shredded household papers and manure. If you have a compost heap or bin, the cost of filling your raised beds will be even cheaper, as you will not need to buy compost.

Step 1

Mark the edges of the areas where you want to place your raised beds. Poke disposable chopsticks into the ground and wind string around them to create a border.

Step 2

Combine garden soil and compost in a 1:1 ratio. Garden soil is sold at garden centers and is somewhere in between potting soil and topsoil, nutritionally speaking.

Step 3

Pile the soil/compost mixture into the areas you have marked off with string. Mix half as much peat moss as there is soil/compost mixture into each area. Be sure to mix thoroughly. The finished mixture should be at least 8 inches high. Higher is also acceptable. Remove the border when soil mounding is complete.

Step 4

Plant seeds, bulbs, cuttings, tubers or whatever else you are planting according to each variety's instructions.

Step 5

Apply household mulch after your plants have established themselves. Use shredded old newspapers and sensitive documents that you have put through a shredder as a base. Cover with grass clippings and dead leaves to create an aesthetically pleasing and beneficial mulch. Mulch prevents weed growth, maintains consistent soil temperature and retains moisture. Organic mulch such as this breaks down and provides beneficial nutrients to the soil.

Step 6

Dig any remaining annual plants and mulch into the raised beds after the season has passed. Avoid digging in perennial plants, or they may not continue to grow in the coming seasons. Submerging organic matter beneath the soil helps it to break down faster, where it can benefit your plants in the following season.

Step 7

Repeat every season. You may occasionally need to add more soil. However, if you continue piling on organic matter and digging it in, your soil will essentially create itself. When you see earthworms in your soil, you will know that your soil is very healthy.

Things You'll Need

  • Disposable chopsticks
  • String
  • Compost
  • Garden soil
  • Peat moss
  • Shovel
  • Old newspaper or shredded paper
  • Grass clippings
  • Dead leaves

References

  • University of Missouri Extension: Raised Bed Gardening
  • The Ohio State University Extension: Raised Bed Gardening
  • Mother Earth News: Lasagna Gardening
Keywords: raised bed gardening, raised vegetable beds, raised flower beds

About this Author

Amrita Chuasiriporn is a professional cook, baker, and writer. In addition to cooking and baking for a living, Chuasiriporn has written for several online publications. These include Chef's Blade, CraftyCrafty, and others. Additionally, Chuasiriporn is a regular contributor to online automotive enthusiast publication CarEnvy.ca. Chuasiriporn holds an A.A.S. in culinary arts, as well as a B.A. in Spanish language and literature.