How to Prepare an Area for a Raised Bed Garden

Overview

Gardening in a raised bed takes less effort to maintain and promotes plant growth. Walking through a normal garden's planting area causes soil compaction. This causes poor soil drainage and limits the amount of available soil oxygen. Gardeners do not walk in raised bed gardens so the soil does not become compacted. Planting, weeding and harvesting are all done while standing outside the raised bed. This type of gardening offers the opportunity to plant your vegetables earlier and harvest later since the bed keeps its warmth. Before you begin, take some steps to prepare the area for a raised bed garden.

Step 1

Choose a sunny location in an area that has easy access to water. Decide on the size and shape of your raised bed garden.

Step 2

Drive short wooden pegs into the ground with a hammer at the corners of your garden area and run a string around the shape. Remove grass, weeds, rocks and debris from the area inside the boundary. Pull all the perennial weeds up by the roots.

Step 3

Dig the soil up at the depth of one shovel blade. Lay a large tarp on the ground beside the area. Remove the topsoil from the garden area and place it on the tarp.

Step 4

Loosen the subsoil of the next layer with a shovel. Turn the soil over and break up large dirt clods. Remove any large pieces of buried debris.

Step 5

Add a 2- to 4-inch layer of peat moss to the soil on the tarp. Mix this soil amendment in to improve organic material content in the soil. Return the amended soil to the raised bed area.

Step 6

Rake the soil smooth and level. Check the levelness of the area with a carpenter's level. Move the soil around to fix the uneven areas. The area is now ready for installation of the raised bed frame.

Tips and Warnings

  • Soil layers create boundaries that plant roots have difficulty growing through. Water does not seep through these layers very quickly. It is best to mix the layers of soil together to eliminate the differences in soil types.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden pegs
  • Hammer
  • String
  • Shovel
  • Tarp
  • Peat moss
  • Rake
  • Carpenter's level

References

  • University of Missouri Extension: Raised-Bed Gardening
  • University of Illinois---The Green Line: Build a Raised Bed
Keywords: preparing raised garden, raised bed gardening, garden site preparation

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.