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Tips for Building a Raised Garden Bed

Raised garden beds are an easy way to create interest and add dimension to your garden.

Raised garden bed with plants

Here are some of their key benefits:

  • If you start with clean, fresh soil, you can avoid the problem of dormant weed seeds and pests from infesting the garden.
  • Raised beds warm more quickly in spring, so you can work the soil and plant earlier.
  • With beds planted higher than ground level, a gardener with limited mobility doesn't have to get down on his or her knees.
  • Soil compaction can reduce crop yields up to 50 percent. Soil doesn't get compacted in raised beds because it's fresh and more easily worked.
  • Raised beds create areas of fertile, well-drained soil in locales with poor soil and inadequate drainage.

 

A man working in the garden

Raised bed depth

When determining the depth of your raised bed, consider your soil's current condition. If it's fairly workable, you can get away with raised beds up to eight inches high. However, if the soil is completely unworkable - the kind of soil that can hardly be dented by a spade - make the raised bed one to three feet high.
Build the border of your garden bed

Step 1: Build the border

Start with four rot-resistant, pressure-treated lumber posts at the corners and use framing lumber to build the border of your bed.
Dig the garden bed

Step 2: Dig the bed

Dig a trench one to two inches deep where you want to position the raised bed. Position the frame in the trench. Level it by either adding soil or digging a deeper trench.
Wooden frame with topsoil

Step 3: Prepare the ground

There's no need to remove turf except for most small weeds; they'll break down and feed the soil. Fill the wooden frame with high-quality topsoil or other amendments, and then rake smooth. Trusted brands such as Scotts, Vigoro and Miracle-Gro carry products that retain moisture and provide organic matter to your soil.
Soaker hose

Step 4: Set up the waterworks

Install a watering system. Soaker hoses, perforated plastic sprinkle hoses and drip-irrigation systems are perfect for raised beds as they disperse water neatly and evenly throughout a contained area.
For instructions on how to build a raised garden bed for a patio, deck or rooftop, check out this DIY project.

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