Raised garden beds are containers that are elevated from the ground that can be used for planting flowers and vegetables. The ground side of the raised bed is open and therefore the plant’s roots can go further in search of nutrients.
Other than that, raised beds have other benefits such as providing good drainage, preventing soil from compacting, preventing crawling pests from reaching the plants and preventing weeds that are on the pathway from reaching the garden. The soil is also not eroded when there are heavy rains because it is above the ground. It is also a good solution to someone with a back problem because you do not need to bend when tend to the garden.
If you want to enjoy these benefits, then it is valuable to know how to build a raised garden bed. The process is easy. Decide where to place the raised bed, the type of wood to use and its height.
The common wood used in building a raised bed is cedar because it is rot resistant, although red wood can also be used. The raised bed can be of any height, the most common being 11 inches, which is attained by stacking two 2 by 6 inch boards. The recommended maximum height is 36 inches. You should consider the soil depth required of the vegetables that you are planting when determining the height of the raised bed.
The beds can be of any length. However, the width should be at most 4 inches in order to make it easy to reach the center without stepping on the bed to avoid compressing the soil.
Materials required for building the raised bed
- Tools: Drill, hacksaw, screwdriver, carpenters level, handsaw, square, and mallet.
- Wood: cedar boards 2″ x 6″ for the sides, 4″ x 4″ for the corner posts.
- Fastening: Deck crews 3.5 inches, at least six for a corner and two for a mid post. 1 inch screw for cross supports.
- Cross supports: half inch aluminum flats in lengths of 8 inches
Instructions for building a raised garden bed on location
Clear the location: If you are building the raised bed at the location where it will remain, clear the area first. Remove weeds and turf and then use a string or chalk to outline the dimensions. You may choose to build the raised bed off site, in which case you can clear the location as you place it there. The raised bed should have its long side facing south to ensure that all the plants are reached by the sunlight.
Assemble the frame
Cut the frames to the required length, mark the ends using a square, place the boards and screw the corners to hold the boards together. Level the frame. You can place blocks on frames to level it.
Add the corner posts
Make sure the corner posts are of your desired height. Place one post at the corner of the frame, drive it a few inches into the ground and then screw the frame to it with two screws. Do the same with the remaining three corner posts.
Add other boards
Add a board frame between the ground and the other frame by screwing them to the posts. If the space between the ground and the frame is not enough, you can dig a little into the ground. It is good to ensure that there is enough space for the frame next to the ground when you are setting the first frame.
If the posts are sticking up, saw them so that they are at the same level with the sides of the raised bed.
You can skip this part if you do not want your raised bed to be high. This means that you should have used one board and placed it next to the ground.
Fill the bed with soil
After the frame is set, you can now fill the raised bed with soil. Make sure that the soil is leveled and you can use a 2 x 4 frame. It is at this time that you should smooth the pathway to ensure it is passable.
Attach cross bracing
Raised beds that are longer than 8 inches and more than 18 inches tall need cross bracing so that they do not bow outward. You should add the cross bracing before you fully fill the raised bed with soil. Cut the aluminum flats into the desired length in relation to the width of the bed, and drill a hole on each end. Attach them using a 1-inch screw to the posts on each side.
Top up the soil on the raised bed: The top soil should be the best. Fill the raised garden bed with this soil. Remove any or you can opt to use a mesh when topping the soil to get rid of any rocks that may be in the soil. Make sure the soil is leveled.
You can now add other items needed in the soil such as organic fertilizer, peat and lime. Add a final layer of the best soil topping, spray the bed with water and begin to garden.
Instructions for building the raised garden bed offsite
If you choose to build the raised garden bed offsite, you need to join the side frames to the corner posts. This will give you a rectangular bed. Leave a few inches on the bottom side of the corner posts, which you will use to drive into the ground.
Once the bed is complete, take it to the location. Dig holes about 5 inches deep for sinking the corner posts. Level the bed, apply dirt on the holes to firm it and then add soil, which should be a mixture of compost and soil. Smooth it with a rake when full, spray with water to moisten. Now you can plant your garden.
Raised gardening is a great way to grow your own vegetables, and in doing so you can save yourself money, have an enjoyable and relaxing hobby and help feed you and your family fresh and healthy food.