Building Raised Gardening Beds

Overview

Raised garden beds are an attractive addition to the landscape and are beneficial to the plants. The soil content can be improved and adjusted to ideal growing conditions. Raised beds have the excellent drainage properties preferred by most plants and are easier to maintain. Beds can be built into the traditional landscape or placed on patios, rooftops and hillsides that would otherwise be wasted. Flowers, vegetables and fruits are popular, but trees and shrubs also grow in raised beds.

Step 1

Mark out the area for the raised bed with stakes or paint. The bed can be any size, but a width of up to 4 feet with clearance all the way around is best because you can easily reach all areas of the bed without stepping into the bed. If the bed will only have access from one side, make it no more than 3 feet wide. Beds deeper than 24 inches require additional bracing to support the weight of the soil.

Step 2

Remove existing plants from the bedding area. Dig or till the soil.

Step 3

Outline the bed area with one layer of landscape timbers, concrete block or brick. Fit the timbers or bricks together closely so that there are no gaps. Add additional layers until the structure reaches the desired height, but no taller than 24 inches. Stagger the rows so the wood or bricks overlap and joints do not line up.

Step 4

Line beds made of treated lumber with a sheet of plastic cut to fit the bed walls. Staple or nail the plastic to the wood. The plastic creates a barrier to prevent chemicals from leaching into the soil.

Step 5

Mix 6 inches of soil mix into the soil beneath the bed to provide a gradual transition into the soil below. Fill the raised beds with a mixture of a high-quality soil and organic compost. The raised beds are now ready to plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Stakes or paint
  • Tape measure
  • Shovel or tiller
  • Landscape timbers, concrete block or bricks
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Staples and stapler or nails and hammer
  • Soil mix
  • Organic compost

References

  • Colorado Master Gardener Program: Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens
  • Ohio State University Extension: Raised Bed Gardening
  • University of Missouri Extension: Raised Bed Gardening
Keywords: building raised gardens, raised garden beds, building raised beds

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.