Do you have limited space for your gardening project? Are you finding it hard to reach all the way down to the ground when tending to your vegetables? Is your soil too sandy to retain water properly? Perhaps there's too much clay soil for proper water drainage?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, a raised garden bed might just be what you need.
Raised bed gardening goes back centuries to medieval times where fences made from branches and twigs were used for the edges. A few hundred years later, market gardeners in Paris adopted the practice, filling their plots with horse manure and compost as they saw fit.
You don't need a Ph.D. in Horticulture or years of landscaping experience to make a raised garden bed. If the French were doing this in the 18th century, what's stopping you from getting it done now?
As a tiny house owner in the past, a raised garden bed was an absolute game changer, allowing me to have a beautiful garden bed in a confined space.
Whether this is your first garden or your hundredth, whether you have $50 or next to nothing, here’s a DIY guide to help you build your very first raised garden bed.
First things first, you must pick the right kind of material for your raised garden bed. We’re going to share how to make your raised bed using two of the most popular materials: wood and concrete.
Wood is the obvious and most popular choice because it’s durable and easy to work with. Specifically, lumber is perfect for making a raised garden bed. Say for instance you want a 4 x 8 foot raised bed. You'll need four planks; two 8 feet long 2 x 12s and two 4 feet long 2 x 12s. These will serve as the frame for your garden bed.
Stock up on some steel reinforcing bars--twelve 2-feet long ones should do the trick. These bars will give the planks some support so you don't get stuck with a little landslide when you least expect it.
In order to get those bars into the ground, you'll need a hammer or a mallet. Get some newspaper for your soil to sit on and you've got everything you need to build your raised wooden garden bed.
Next, start placing your planks in a rectangular shape, making sure the inner ends come into contact with each other. Flip-up a longer plank and hammer in two steel bars behind it, with each one standing one foot from the edge.
Follow with a shorter plank and hammer a bar in the center for temporary support. Proceed to hammer in another temporary support bar behind the second short plank then flip up the second long plank in order to hammer in the bars one foot from the edge.
Now go ahead and hammer in two bars towards the end of each short plank before removing the temporary bars in the center. When you're done with that, you can then add two more bars on each long plank, this time two feet from the edges. This will leave you with four bars behind each long plank and two bars behind each short plank to offer support where it's most needed.
When all the hammering and adjusting is done, you can get to the least technical part. Line the bottom of the bed with newspapers and give them a good splash of water before filling it all up with soil. You can now start to work your magic on a robust garden bed that's free from pesky bugs and nasty weeds.
If you don't have any planks lying around and you're not prepared to go out and buy some, don't be discouraged. If you've chopped some trees for firewood recently, see if you can get some thick, long logs that won't give in to the weight of the soil.
If you don't have any logs lying around, play lumberjack for a day, measuring the logs for a perfect fit if you can.
So what if the whole log thing seems a bit too intense for you? No worries, you can do it the way it was done in medieval times. Gather a bunch of branches and twigs that won't break when you bend them.
In the same way, you'd weave a basket of straw, make a frame from the branches and twigs, twisting and bowing them until they make a frame that can withstand the soil you'll fill it with.
This is a pretty cheap way of making a raised garden bed. If you've got some concrete blocks left over from other landscaping or from a house reno, this is the perfect option for you. Pick a level area with enough exposure to the sun, figure out how much space you need, and don't forget that all-important walking-around-space.
The great thing about concrete blocks is that you know the size of each, so it's easy for you to calculate how many you can squeeze in.
Use gloves to move the blocks, shifting them as may be necessary and making sure they're straight, making a clear-cut square while you're at it. You can get something to mark out the shape so you don't have trouble with that.
It's important to make sure the ground is level under your garden bed, so take care to remove any grass or rocks that might cause irregularities.
Now comes the fun part. You can gloriously pour your soil inside the garden bed, taking care to fill all the little spaces in between. Whether you fill those spaces with soil or rocks is up to you, but that's some valuable room that could be used to plant herbs or flowers.
The soil will take time to settle so make sure to add a little more if there ends up being spaces all around. There's one thing to watch out for with concrete blocks, they leech lime and lime can raise the soil's pH. To avoid this issue, just go for plants that prefer alkaline soil and you won't have a problem after that.
Just The Ground
Lastly, we have a raised ground bed. This is a great option for gardeners that would rather not spend any money. You don't need anything for support, all you need is to raise flat-top mounds that can go as high as 8 inches from the ground.
Just make sure you have wide enough walkways so you don't end up stepping on the mounds. Raised ground beds are cheap to build, they're simple and they still get the job done.
Of course these don't stand alone from the garden and separate themselves from nearby weeds, however they do provide decorative elevation that can make all the difference when designing a garden landscape.
And there it is; the best-raised garden bed ideas out there. Compare them all, see which one works best for you, and don't be afraid to get a little creative.
Hopefully, this will be the beginning of your journey to a more sustainable and independent lifestyle. Before you go watch this video to ensure you do it right and avoid the common mistakes.