Raised garden beds are ever popular for different reasons. Personally, I am really keen on the no-dig gardening method and for me, it’s all about soil health. For others however, it may come down to finding it difficult to bend, or being challenged with clay soil. To start preparing for DIY raised garden beds, needs a focus on soil and how to ensure nutrient-density and water-retention plus drainage – similarly to preparing a bed in the ground.
How to create DIY raised garden beds:
1) Draw out a design and decide where this raised garden should be. Make sure you incorporate moving space, or pathways, around each bed. Also pre-plan which plants are positioned where, and for this the number one consideration is the sun and wind factors unless you are working within a greenhouse. Wind-hardy plants should take the most wind in the front and for sun-sharing, the low-growing individuals should grow in front of the taller plants. Areas to consider are those that get sun for at least 6 hours every day and little to no wind.
2) The best height-dictator is the plants or flowers you wish to grow and their root characteristics. For deeper root systems, you will need a greater depth of soil and for small ground covers, you will need less soil. Building a raised bed that is about 1m high is really ideal as you can use this bed for anything in the future. But 1m heights are not absolutely necessary (unless you only want to grow shrub-sized plants) and usually a 30cm high bed will be perfect.
3) Decide on the site and size of your garden and lay out the perimeter with rot-resistant corner posts in position. Next take a string and create the mock-up frame work of the bed to be. Form a rectangle with the front/end and side boards and screw to the corner posts.
4) Next you can finish assembling the bed frame by securing each side wall. Screw together all sides with the previous and next end boards.
5) Level and secure the frame by compacting the soil around the frame and corner posts.
6) Remove all rocks and other hard objects that are visible inside the bed. Lay cardboard down inside the bed and follow with grass clippings or leave mulch. Then add a handful of organic fertilizer and brown mulch such as wood chips with a final layer of compost. Repeat these layers, but instead of cardboard again, use newspaper. Finally end on wood chips and make sure the matter is moist through, but not dripping wet.
7) Rest the bed for 2 – 3 months and you will find a raised bed that is heaven for plants to grow in, or
8) alternatively, skip steps 1 – 7 and simply fill the beds with good soil and compost that is ready for instant planting.
9) Consider adding irrigation and wire fencing if needed in your DIY raised garden beds. Your future self will thank you.
One of the biggest advantages about raised beds is that you have control of your soil conditions. If you have raised beds and advice that can be useful for us, please share in the comment box below.