Building Raised Beds

There are a variety of reasons to build raised garden beds, from poor soil to creating a more orderly garden space. This is a guide about building raised beds.
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March 22, 2016 Flag

I live in Tahiti and we have a lot of rain year-round. This can be a problem when it comes to planting flowers or plants in your garden. Therefore, I decided to raise my flower beds so when it rains the water doesn't flood my plants.

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Unfortunately, when the water drains from the garden it started to erode the dirt in my flower beds and they started to crumble and wash away. In order to stop the erosion and the dirt from washing away, I needed to find a solution for this problem.

I have a river that runs in front of my home. I gathered the rocks from the riverbed and brought them into the garden. I used the rocks to start building a barrier for my flower beds.

Materials needed:

  • small to medium sized rocks
  • wheelbarrow
  • small hand shovel
  • large shovel
  • dirt

Start by digging a small trench along the line of your flower bed. Place a row of medium sized rocks in the trench.

Afterwards, fill the back side of the trench and rocks with dirt. You'll need to pack the dirt down around the rocks to hold them in place.

Continue adding rocks and dirt as you build your rock wall. You're basically stacking the rocks on top of each other. You'll need to find a rock that fits well on top of the bottom rock. Adding dirt to the back of the rocks holds them in place and supports the rock wall. Furthermore, it fills and replaces the dirt in your flower bed that has washed away from the rain.

I continued adding rocks and dirt until I had made a nice rock wall that would protect my plants. Now when it rains the dirt in my flower beds is protected and no longer erodes or washes away. Furthermore, the rock wall flower beds add to the natural look of the garden.

My garden is tropical and has a lot of flowers and plants. I keep the center of the yard open for the animals and walking around. Here on the islands, it's better to have a gravel yard than a yard with a lawn. Around my garden I have different areas that I have built raised rock flower beds.

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Anonymous Flag
April 23, 20160 found this helpful

very nice!

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8 found this helpful
March 4, 2011 Flag

There are several advantages to using raised beds when gardening. They provide excellent drainage, warm soil earlier in the spring, prevent soil compaction, maximize yields in a minimum amount of space, and for gardeners with limited mobility, they can be built to any height. Perhaps best of all, raised beds also keep your garden looking neat and tidy.
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Gathering Your Supplies

Materials you will need:

Determining Size

Length & Width: A convenient size is 4 x 4-foot box, because lumber is readily available in 4-foot lengths. This also allows you easy access to the center of your beds from either side. Set the beds end to end to create larger gardens (4 x 8-foot or 4 x 12-foot, etc.) or arrange them in interesting patterns. If you are planting vegetables, building 3 to 4 raised beds of this size will allow for adequate crop rotation. If the bed will be positioned against a wall or fence (accessible only by three sides), limit the width to 2-3 feet so you can easily reach the plants growing in back.

Depth: Most plants need at least a 6-12 inch root zone, so your boxes should be at least 12 inches deep to allow plenty of room for roots. Using 12-inch wide lumber to construct the boxes makes this easy.

Constructing the Box

Construct your beds on a firm, flat surface (e.g. driveway, patio, or garage floor). Set the boards up on their sides and nail the ends together to create a box. Use 4 to 5 nails on each board in an off-set pattern to help prevent the wood from splitting. If you're doing this project alone, it's helpful to brace one board against a wall to hold it steady while you pound in the nails.

Optional: If you line the bottom of a raised bed with chicken wire, you can easily control gophers and other marauding rodents. Cut a piece of chicken wire/hardware cloth so it's a few inches larger than the inside dimensions of your box. Lay the wire inside of the box. Bend the excess wire up the inside walls and use a staple gun to attach it securely it to the box.

Tips for Positioning the Box

Preparing the Box for Planting

Use a sharp spade to loosen up the top few inches of soil at the bottom of the box. This will help ensure good drainage. Fill the beds with equal parts of compost, topsoil, and well-rotted manure. Water well. Allow a few days to a week for settling to occur and add extra soil if necessary.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
March 4, 20110 found this helpful

In a 2 months I am moving out of city to home with a big garden. I am looking forward to planting and starting my vegetable garden. I love the idea of adding a chicken wire to the bottom of the box that I am planning to make myself. Great idea, thanks for sharing that.

I just registered with this site hoping to find some good tips and I got it right away. I'm so pleased I find it. :-) Thanks again.

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5 found this helpful
May 31, 2009 Flag

Raised Veggie Garden

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How I made a raised garden out of cardboard boxes, a tub from an old washer and some lumber on top of my driveway. I had to haul in a pick-up load of dirt.

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1 found this helpful
April 9, 2012 Flag

Two Completed Garden Beds

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We were able to put these two 4 foot square raised garden beds together this weekend. It was an easy project for the kids to help with; and they will be able to plant whatever they want in them this spring.

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1 found this helpful
June 23, 2005 Flag

If your ground is solid rock, the best way to raise veggies is in a raised bed. My husband built a raised bed garden this year. The "blocks that hold the garden together are, believe it or not, Styrofoam. This was salvaged from boat docks a few years ago when they banned its use in the local lakes.

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2 found this helpful
June 21, 2013 Flag

Urbanite Raised Garden Beds

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I thought I came up with it all by myself and that it was terribly original, but after patting myself on the back for months, my permaculture book has informed me that this wonderful, free-to-the-point-they-may-pay-you-to-haul-it-off building material is called "urbanite".

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0 found this helpful
September 7, 2016 Flag

Several raised garden beds full of lush plants

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This is a guide about making a raised be vegetable garden. There are a number of ways you can create a very successful raised vegetable garden, whether you build with new materials or use recycled items.

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February 8, 2007 Flag

Easy Raised Bed

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If you're short on space or the soil in your area is riddled by sand or clay, building raised beds may be the best solution to your gardening woes. You'll trade the time, money and effort required amending poor quality soil for maximum yields in a minimum amount of space.

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October 9, 2008 Flag

Straw Bales For Gardening

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This idea is very old, my grandmother used to have straw bale gardens. It was great for her not to have to stoop over to pick and weed her garden.

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November 20, 2008 Flag

We made a 30x20 foot garden in our back yard with plastic and cement blocks. You do not have to remove grass. Put down plastic or a thick layer of news papers, and place cement blocks on top around the edge of the space.

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January 31, 2008 Flag

I landscape on an angle from the house. I will make a three level planter; the first level is 8 feet wide and long, the sides are white rock or, preferably, pressure treated wood.

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August 19, 2011 Flag

I love my raised beds. It helps keep different gardens separated and makes it easier to keep weeds out. They can be watered separately, depending on what you are growing in them.

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June 27, 2005 Flag

If you can get hold of some old car tyres, stack them up. They make great raised beds for flowers or vegetables. You can fill them part way up with old used compost and top up with new for economy. Great if you have trouble bending or kneeling.

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January 16, 2012 Flag

In the summer of 2011, I had raised beds made to accommodate a wheelchair and my short arm width necessary to reach across to weed. They have landscape fabric to control weeds on the bottom, a layer of sod face down, then layers of newspaper and leaves that will decompose and on top, regular soil.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

April 2, 2011 Flag

I'd like to see some pictures of various raised veggie garden beds you have made from recycled wood or other recycled items. The ones I see in books and on line aren't recycled items (but rather made of recycled materials).

What I have made works, but is rather "ugly". I don't want to buy the beds, or buy the materials, but am hoping to repurpose items already here on the farm, trying to be thrifty!

So, I am hoping some of you can give me some good ideas! I plan on going 100% raised bed gardening this year for my veggies.

Hardiness Zone: 5a

By April from NW MO

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April 11, 20110 found this helpful

My non-recycled raised beds are kind of boring. I live in Texas, so I was thinking about using some barn tin on the sides of my wood, and painting them with bluebonnets and other Texas wildflowers to cutesy them up.

Check out your local craigslist in the "free" section, or freecycle, for materials. I see a lot of fences taken down, the fence pickets looking quite nice but not useable for another fense, and other construction materials.

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October 30, 2008 Flag

My husband and I are looking for a platform bed. Does anyone has a good suggestion? Where can we find a good deal on a good quality platform bed? Thanks.

Peggy from Mcallen, TX

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June 25, 20100 found this helpful

Fake one like we did. I wanted one too but couldn't afford it. So we took 2x12's sanded, stained to match bedroom furniture, put the box spring on the floor and boxed it in. Mattress on top no headboard. Looks like the pretties you see in the magazines. I also wanted Asian furniture like the Mino collection which cost about 2500.00 for livingroom set. We made a couch,settee and two chairs for under 300.00 which included all materials. We reused our old cushions and I sewed covers for them. This stuff is stout and can withstand active children and all the cushion are removable to be washed.

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May 10, 2016 Flag

I want to build a raised vegetable box in my yard, but have dogs next door and because my yard runs on an angle all their urine runs through my yard. Will my vegetables be afflicted by that? How do I get rid of the smell?

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0 found this helpful
November 1, 2013 Flag

I have read how straw bales are used to build a raised garden. I was wondering if straw could be used to line the bottom of a wood build raised garden? I was thinking that the straw would decompose and provide nutrients for the soil as well as help to maintain moisture. Please help out.

By Faye B.

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November 5, 20130 found this helpful

That would depend on what kind of straw you're using and what kind of plants you're going to put in. Pine straw (needles) are acidic. The straw that's left over from cutting hay is full of seeds. Also, as the straw breaks down the level of your soil will drop.

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January 4, 2011 Flag

I am looking for an economical way to edge my raised beds. I have a large garden and lumber is just way too expensive to do all of the beds. Any ideas?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Heidi from PA

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January 7, 20110 found this helpful

Heidi, you could use old wooden pallets. I know at work, we gets lots of spare ones. We give them away to people for putting firewood on, temporary flooring, broken ones are ideal for firewood etc. Most businesses are pleased to get rid of them. They make good compost heap frames. Most are made of untreated wood, which is ideal. No chemicals leaching into plants. Best of all, free. I have heard of freecyle that may be another option. Many lumber yards also have offcuts and they will sometimes give them away or even packing crates are good, if companies import heavy items. Just a few ideas. brentnz

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February 9, 2009 Flag

I would like to use all the rocks that seem to grow here to good use. Instead of buying wood to make raised beds in the garden I would like to try building it with the stones. The previous owner left three bags of quick-crete, so I was hoping to use that. Will I have to wash all the rocks first? Do I have to put down a layer of sand before I even start? How long will it have to 'set' before I put in the dirt?
Has anyone tried this before, and what worked and what didn't.

Any knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

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February 10, 20090 found this helpful

Whenever you make anything outside using concrete, you should dig into the soil and lay a foundation. Check your area to see what your frost line is, that will tell you how deep to dig. Since this isn't the foundation for a building, merely a raised garden bed, it won't need to be as deep as the frostline--but that will give you something to go by. If you fail to do this, cold freezes can crack and raise part of the raised wall. Personally, depending on the types of rocks, I'd either dry stack them, or if they're smaller, build a form out of scrap wood and make the retaining wall in sections, then just lay them together on top of the ground. This way if one lifts, you can dig to lower it; if it sinks, you can add soil to raise it; if you want to move the bed or make it bigger/smaller, that would be an option too.

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October 24, 2011 Flag

Can you turn an old fridge into a raised veggie bed? I would need to put drainage holes in the back and lay it back on ground. What are potential hazards?

By Bec B

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October 25, 20110 found this helpful

Refrigerators are an environmental hazard that need to be specially disposed of, so turning one into a veggie bed isn't a good idea I'm afraid. Depending on the age of the fridge it might contain CFC's, mercury, and other baddies. Even newer ones have things you wouldn't want leaking into the soil. Better to see your fridge properly recycled. There are plenty of ways to make raised beds from reclaimed materials that would be a safer bet. Good luck with your garden!

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August 22, 2014 Flag

I would like to construct a raised bed garden on a hilly area. The best plan would look like 3 beds of 3 feet by 10 feet. Any suggestions? The is soil is poor and possibly rocky so I think just placing the boxes on top and filling with good soil is best. To avoid tons of soil I am thinking of raising the bottoms up on the lower box. I need advice on drainage too.

By Nancy

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Photos

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July 2, 2010 Flag

Photo of raised bed made with wood.

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I upgraded my boxes this year, bigger and taller.

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In This Guide
Gardening in Raised Beds
Gardening in Raised Beds
Categories
Home and Garden Gardening Raised BedsAugust 12, 2011
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Several raised garden beds full of lush plants
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Preventing Weeds in Flower Beds
Garden Pond
Building a Garden Pond
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