Seeing saplings grow into fresh green vegetable plants or beautiful flowering plants can bring tremendous joy to any gardener; be it an amateur or an experienced one. However, it takes a great deal of effort, hard work and determination to reach there. For people who have help, then it’s quite easy. But for people with limited space and help, then DIY raised garden beds are the ideal option. They allow you to have a say about many different aspects of the garden, such as the type of soil and the space to use. Raised bed gardening involves raising the natural soil level by constructing a strong structure, using either concrete blocks, wooden frames etc., and then filling it up with the soil of your choice. Making a raised garden bed requires some basic skills in constructing the frame structure and adding soil to it. If you want to build your own raised bed, here are the steps you need to follow.
You need to choose the right location depending on what you plan to grow. Flowering and vegetable plants need different considerations in terms of soil quality, depth and height. The amount of sunlight the plant requires will also help to determine the right location as some plants need shade to grow while others require full exposure to sunlight. Begin by drawing a sketch of the intended raised bed. By doing this, you will be able to decide on the building materials required. Generally, a 3 x 6-ft raised garden bed can work for many seasonal plants. When it comes to the height, it should be around 1-3 feet tall. Choose your building material too by considering the pros and cons of every material. Cedar is the most popular material for constructing raised beds but it requires replacement every few years. For a permanent structure that will last for many years to come, go for concrete blocks.
Mark the bed perimeter using strings. Dig up the soil a bit to clear it of all weeds. This will not only loosen up the parent soil but will also help you ensure a properly levelled base for the raised garden bed. Dig a trench which is half feet deep around the bed perimeter and then start the building process. If you want to use wood to build the frames, ensure it is pressure treated with the right chemicals. Don’t use chemicals, such as creosote or pentachlorophenol, since they tend to leach into the soil, thereby damaging your flowering or vegetable plants. Now fix the frames (sawed by you or ready-made) along the trench and then join the ends using nuts and bolts. In case you prefer a concrete bed, then just follow the normal method of laying bricks or blocks upon each other and cementing them.
Good soil is important for healthy growth of a plant. A raised garden bed allows you to drastically change the conditions of the soil to suit the growth requirement of a specific plant. If you do not have a good soil in your garden, bring in proper soil to fill in the raised bed. You should go for a combination of lightweight, humus soil with organic composite and sand for good drainage. Heavy soil, such as clay, tends to stagnate water which can significantly damage your plants. The best part about controlled humus soil is that it releases nutrients slowly to the bed which ensures a steady and healthy growth. You can easily maintain the fertility of the humus soil by adding organic materials regularly.
Raised Garden Bed Plans
When deciding upon the right type and quantity of plants to grow in a raised bed, consider the space for growth required and the distance required between mature plants. If you choose a combination of shorter and taller plants, ensure the taller ones are grown in locations where they can't block exposure of light to smaller plants. To make the most out of your limited space, you should grow plants of a similar size. Plants that will make mulching difficult and entangle other plants, such as vine, should be grown independently.
The major advantage of a garden bed is that it prevents soil compaction. You can easily move around your garden without stepping on the bed.