How To Create a Raised Garden

Overview

Raised beds provide a rich growing environment for all types of plants and can help those with back problems to garden more comfortably. When you build a raised bed, you can locate it on old, weedy lawn in areas where other plants can grow. Raised beds are especially useful in areas with heavy clay or excessively sandy soil, poor drainage or large numbers of rocks, because you can custom design the contents of your bed without concerning yourself with improving poor soil.

Creating a Raised Garden

Step 1

Flatten large cardboard boxes or collect newspapers if you plan to create your raised garden in a weedy area or on top of lawn you no longer want. Then spread one or both of these materials on top of the ground, making sure you overlap pieces so no soil or weeds show through cracks or holes in the paper.

Step 2

Place alternating layers of organic materials on top of the paper in your bed area. You can use topsoil, any type of compost, peat moss, grass clippings, wood ashes, sawdust, chopped-up plant parts, fallen leaves, sand or any other organic materials you have handy. The higher you make your raised garden, the richer the growing medium will be.

Step 3

Rake your raised bed so the surface is even. Then run a sprinkler for 20 to 30 minutes to thoroughly saturate the area.

Step 4

Encircle your completed bed with rocks or cinder blocks, or build a wooden frame with 1 by 12 inch boards if you want an attractive border for your bed. This step is optional---raised beds will not lose soil from the top and sides.

Step 5

Plant bedding plants by digging holes large enough to accommodate their root systems with your trowel. Make sure you leave sufficient space between plants. Then set your plants into their holes, refill with additional growing medium and water for another 20 to 30 minutes.

Tips and Warnings

  • If you use concrete blocks for your raised bed's border, they can cause your soil to become more alkaline, which many plants do not like.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard or newspaper
  • Topsoil
  • Compost
  • Peat moss (optional)
  • Wood ashes (optional)
  • Grass clippings (optional)
  • Fallen leaves (optional)
  • Sand (optional)
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Wooden boards or rocks (optional)
  • Nails or screws (optional)
  • Trowel

References

  • University of Missouri: Raised-Bed Gardening
  • "Lasagna Gardening"; Patricia Lanza; 1998
  • Ohio State University: Raised-Bed Gardening
Keywords: raised bed, small space gardening, vegetables ornamentals herbs

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.