How to Plan a Raised Bed Garden


Raised garden beds enhance the beauty of a home, frame it with color and add depth to the landscape. Whether for vegetables or flowers, raised beds compensate for poor, compacted ground. They also warm up earlier than the surrounding ground in springtime and are less accessible to pests. Plan the raised bed properly and enjoy a garden with lower maintenance and bigger rewards.

Step 1

Select a sunny site away from the root zones of existing trees or shrubs. Vegetable or flower beds need six to eight hours of sun per day, according to the University of Connecticut. Established trees compete for nutrients, and raised beds smother the surface roots.

Step 2

Sketch various outlines using graph paper. Draw existing plants and structures first, keeping to scale, before adding in raised beds. Use curved borders for informal ornamental beds and straight lines for formal or vegetable beds.

Step 3

Lay out the form in the landscape. Use twine, spray paint or a garden hose to outline borders. View the bed from many angles, and note the amount of sun and shade the bed receives throughout the day. Size vegetable beds so that the center is within arm's reach. Keep mature plant sizes in mind when designing perennial beds.

Step 4

Trim any vegetation down to 1 inch and remove deeply rooted weeds. Use a shovel or half-moon edger to cut out the border, then rake the soil into the bed's center. Mix a 3-inch layer of compost into the soil, suggests the University of Connecticut, and level the top with the rake.

Step 5

Construct the edging, if desired. Purdue University states that beds 6 inches high or shorter do not need edging to prevent erosion; simply slope the edges toward the top of the bed. Use brick, stone, lumber or cement block to create a border in keeping with the architectural theme of the house.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not make sharp, wavy curves. This distracts from the overall effect and makes mowing difficult. Avoid using treated lumber or railroad ties around vegetable gardens. Harmful chemicals leach into the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Twine or garden hose
  • String trimmer (if necessary)
  • Shovel or half-moon edger
  • Compost
  • Edging (if desired)


  • University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension Service: Preparing New Garden Beds
  • Garden Mosaics: Raised Bed Science Page
  • Purdue University: Container and Raised Bed Gardening

Who Can Help

  • Penn State Cooperative Extension, Adams County: Raised Bed Gardening
Keywords: plan raised bed, raised bed garden, make raised bed

About this Author

Kimberly Fuller has been a writer for 15 years, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Utah. She has written successful grants for local schools as well as articles for Demand Studios, Constant Content and other online sites.