Building Raised Beds

Give your garden a lift by planting in a raised bed.

Formal Raised Bed Garden

Formal Raised Bed Garden

Cool-season vegetables and flowers are planted in the formal raised bed garden at P. Allen Smith's Garden Home in Little Rock.

Photo by: Kelly Quinn/P. Allen Smith

Kelly Quinn/P. Allen Smith

If you’ve been convinced of the benefits of raised beds, you may be thinking, “Now what?” Don’t worry: While it does take some work to set up raised beds the first time, it’s simple enough for a new gardener and will make growing veggies a lot easier for seasons to come.

Some things to consider:

1. Where will you put your beds?

Look around your yard to find a good spot for your raised beds – ideally, a patch of level ground in a sunny spot near a water source.

If you plan to use more than one raised bed, allow enough space for a two-foot walkway between and enough room on each side to allow you to walk through, work, and/or mow the grass. Since you want the soil in the bed to remain light and fluffy, make sure you won’t have to step on the soil in order to tend the garden.

2. What kind of beds will you use?

Ready-to-assemble raised beds come in a variety of materials from resin to wood, and are available in different shapes and sizes. You’ll pay more than you would if you built the boxes yourself, but it’s a good option if you really aren’t handy or have little time to spare. Search for raised beds or garden boxes online or at your local garden supply center.

DIY raised beds can be made out of virtually any material, and can be quite elaborate and decorative or simple and rustic. If you’re building raised beds for a backyard veggie garden, simple wooden boxes will do just fine. Check out these simple step-by-step instructions.

Tips:

  • Remember that smaller beds – no more than 4’ wide – are easier to tend.
  • Consider purchasing weed barrier fabric for the very bottom of the bed, then add soil on top.
  • Be sure that whatever wood you use for your box has not been treated with harmful chemicals.
  • Before you plant, loosen soil with a garden fork to keep it fluffy.
  • Compost, peat moss and other amendments can improve the health of your soil.
  • When growing season is over, spread compost over the beds and then cover with mulch. This will help protect the beds during the winter while adding nutrients to the soil.
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