Raised garden beds offer a unique solution to various problems associated with gardening. Raised garden bed containers provide superior pest and weed management as compared to planting on ground level. If the gardening area is clayey or sandy or just not fit for gardening, then a raised garden bed might be a solution. Raised beds in a garden are significantly beneficial for small and large spaces. This system dramatically helps to increase the growth and yield of plants without any hassle.
A raised garden bed is also suitable for areas where the soil is contaminated in some way. Lets get into how to build a raised garden bed, what materials you can use and what are the advantages of a raised garden bed
How to build a Raised Garden Bed
- Advantages of Raised Garden Beds
- Types of Raised Garden Beds
- How to Build a Raised Garden Bed
- Tips for Raised Bed Gardening
Advantages of Raised Garden Beds
Lets look at the advantages of a raised garden bed first.
Good Quality Soil and Utilisation of Space
A garden bed is like a big empty container, and you can stuff it with top quality compost, which is super beneficial for your plants. The loose, fertile soil will allow the roots of your plants to penetrate easily, making your plants healthier. A raised garden bed can be built in a tight space, most garden beds are 3 -4 wide. A Raised Garden bed lets you work around it, and in this way, you can use the entire garden space for your plant’s growth.
Prevention of Soil Erosion
Soil erosion can be significantly controlled using raised garden beds. Soil erosion is mainly accelerated during rainy conditions. The top layer of soil that is loose and fertile is washed away. Excessive irrigation can also cause this problem. A Raised garden bed creates a barrier to stop this loss of soil by erosion.
One of the best advantages of using a raised garden bed is saving water. A raised garden bed can be fitted with a drip irrigation system. This will save you water and nutrients for your plants.
Weed emergence is a lot less in elevated gardens; thus, the need for using weedicides is also reduced. You might find a few weeds every now and then but it wont be a struggle to pluck them out by hand.
Types of Raised Garden Beds
Raised Garden Beds can be used to grow Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits or Flowers. Based on the use and materials available, you can design various kinds of raised garden beds. Some different kinds of raised garden beds are:
Wood-Based Raised Beds
You can use reclaimed or new wood for building multiple layers of raised garden beds. Any type of wood can be used, but cedarwood is mostly recommended due to its natural resistance to insects and rots. The wood can also be colored to make the raised bed more aesthetically appealing. Some wooden elevated gardening bed kits are also available in the market. Wooden beds are especially ideal for growing herbs, flowers, and vegetables. This is strong and lightweight, so it is most suitable for balconies, porches, decks, and patios.
Composite Raised Bed Gardening
The composite raised bed for gardening is made up of wooden fiber, and plastic materials. It offers the best features of both materials. As compared to the wood material, the composite garden beds cannot quickly rot, fade, splinter, or wrap. By using this material, the life of the gardening bed is prolonged. In addition to the improved life, composite beds need less care and maintenance. You can also stack composite beds on top of each other to get the desired height. Due to stronger strength, the composite bed can handle significant weight.
Concrete Based Raised Bed for Gardening
This type of garden bed is exceptionally beneficial for garden designers. Molds of different shapes are used to make concrete blocks. Even the complex shapes of concrete can be created for elaborating on a specific design. These concrete blocks are available in pieces, and there is no involvement of any measurement or screw. According to the size of garden beds, one can get the required design and number of blocks. To ensure extra stability, steel bars can also be used for fixing blocks in the ground.
Vinyl Based Raised Beds for Gardening
For making vinyl raised beds, recycled plastic is used. These boards are shallow that needs minimum maintenance and will not fade, splinter, warp, or rot. Its customized design allows an easy installment without any manual cutting or fiddling. The cutting of the board can be done according to the tight requirements of space. As compared to the other garden beds, vinyl raised bed is cheap, durable, and lightweight.
Plastic Based Raised Bed for Gardening
The functionality of this bed is somewhat like that of vinyl-based raised beds. Still, here the significant difference is the type of material. Polyvinyl chloride resin is used to make vinyl, but the plastic is made by using polyethylene of higher density. The polyethylene is chemically inactive and is phthalate and BPA free. It is an ideal bed for growing food crops.
Additionally, in the plastic bed, the chemical additives are UV inert, and there is no degradation or fading caused due to direct sunlight.
Stone Based Raised Bed for Gardening
This type of bed is made of natural stones. It is perfectly fit for outdoor conditions and will go well with your surrounding landscape design. Managing heavyweight rock for its construction is the only challenge. You need help with this one. This kind of bed only requires minimum maintenance, and its life is unlimited. Once its construction is done, then any type of flowers and vegetable plants can be grown.
How to Build a Raised Garden Bed
There are lots of different gardens you can create, check my article on home gardening , types and benefits , and how to start a garden in 8 steps. Now that we have looked at the type and advantages of raised garden beds, we can look at how to build them. Most garden beds will follow the same rules regardless of what type of raised garden bed you choose.
Decide Where You Want a Raised Garden Bed
The selection of the site is the most significant factor when preparing the layout for a raised bed garden bed. The site should have direct access to sunlight along with appropriate drainage for water. The gardening area should be flat and should be at least 6-12 inches deep. Rocks, plant roots, weeds, and wooden chips should be removed from the ground. You can make the garden bed as wide as you want if you have the space. Just remember, you need to be able to reach the middle of your garden bed from either side. You don’t want to build something too high or too wide, which makes it difficult for you to maintain your plants.
Assembling and Filling of Gardening Beds
The raised bed should be assembled on the site, or where this assembly can be easily moved. A large construction can be heavy, and its movement is somewhat problematic. If u decide to make a high raised garden bed, you will need to fill it with more soil. This will add pressure to the walls, so ensure your walls are thick. If you fear any burrowing animals around your neighborhood, then add a metal mesh to the bottom of the frame to stop the entrance of any animals. Before moving, the assembly frame, the site should be genuinely leveled.
The addition of gravel or wood mulches in between the beds provides dry, clean, working, and walking places. Don’t do this if your bed is raised too high. The soil used for filling the raised bed should be 50% soil of good quality and 50% compost. In some conditions, there may need to add soil amendment such as vermiculite to ensure proper drainage in rainy conditions. In hot and dry climates, soil that has excellent water holding capacity should be used.
Tips for Raised Bed Gardening
Alternatives for Wood
You should be careful to avoid the chemical contaminated materials as it may cause the soil pH to change, thus affecting the soil biota in negative ways. Any significant change in pH level will negatively affect the growth and yield of plants.
Use of Cedar Woods
The wood of cedar has natural oils which stops quick rotting and increases the life span of the raised garden bed. However, before using this wood, make sure that the wood is not treated.
Use of Thicker Planks and Railroad Ties
To ensure the long-term use of a raised garden bed, choose a thick board of wood. A thicker and stronger wood can easily handle the weight of soil and plants. However, avoid the use of railroad ties as they are treated with the toxic material, creosote.
Avoid the Use of Toxic Material
Raised garden beds are used for growing food crops, so wood or any other material should be free from chemicals. Otherwise, these chemicals can spread to your plants and produce.
If you like my article on how to build a raised garden bed then check out my other posts too.
If you are really interested in increasing the quality and quantity of food you produce with gardening check out how to build a hydroponics system. A hydroponics system will increase your food production greatly.