Whether you noticed problems with your raised bed over the last growing season, or you're just beginning to garden in one, it’s important to prepare your raised garden bed in the spring to get it ready for growing plants and spreading roots. While the quantity of soil or organic material and landscaping fabric you'll need will depend on the size of your bed, the basics of giving your plants a nutrient-rich mix of soil is the same. Have a friend help you to make the job an easy, one-day project.
Spread out your tarp on the ground next to your raised bed or as close to it as possible. Remove any soil that is already in the bed and place it on the tarp.
Line the bed with landscaping fabric to prevent weeds, if desired, by spreading it across the bottom of the bed and up the side walls, up to an inch below the rim of the bed. Staple the fabric in place along the inside of the bed to hold it.
Add amendments to your soil on the tarp such as store-bought garden soil or compost, as well as peat if you need to improve your drainage. Mix the soils together evenly with your shovel.
Shovel the soil into the bed or have a friend help you lift the tarp and pour it into the bed up to the top edge of the bed. Don’t press the soil down once it is added, but store excess soil in an airtight container.
Plant your bed as desired with flowers, herbs or vegetables. As you water and care for your bed, the soil will settle and you can add more from your stored soil.
Dig the soil to loosen it every year before the growing season begins, being careful not to cut or disturb the landscaping fabric if you used it. This is also a good time to add more compost or garden soil if you feel it is necessary.