Raised Bed Gardening Guide

Download Raised Bed Gardening Guide PDF

Why Use A Raised Bed?

Raised beds are becoming more and more common in personal gardens everywhere and for good reason. Raised beds provide ideal growing conditions because they drain better than ground plots, they’re easy to fill with good soil, and they warm up quicker than the soil in a ground plot.

Raised beds create an infrastructure that promotes gardening because they provide a physical barrier that makes pathways more defined for walking and mowing. Raised beds are also less prone to soil compaction because remember…NEVER WALK IN THE BEDS!

Accessibility is also an advantage because after rain, you are usually walking on a mulched path, grass, or stones instead of mud.

Some other advantages of raised beds:

  • Can be built on a slope that would otherwise make gardening difficult.
  • The garden is elevated- you don’t have to reach down quite so far.
  • Create a compact, yet highly productive, growing area.
  • Can be placed on pavement if no “green space” is available.

Planning Your Raised Bed

The first step in the planning process is to find a location for your raised bed. The location should consider the following logistics:
Building-Raised-Garden

  • Level area (preferred, but not required)
  • Full sun
  • Access to water
  • Avoid perennial weeds if possible

The next step is to determine the right size of your bed. The size of your bed should be:

  • No wider than 4’ across
  • Any length (but usually no more than 12’ long)
  • At least 8” deep

Choosing the Right Materials

Depending on how much you can spend, there many effective materials you can use to construct your raised bed.

Rough Cut Cedar Wood

Cedar-Wood

Pre-Made Beds

Pre-Made Raised Bed

Landscape Bricks

Landscape Bricks Raised Bed

Cement/Cinder Blocks

Cinder Block Raised Bed

Raised Bed With No Walls

Raised Bed With No Walls

 

NOTE: If you choose a raised beds without walls,
you will need to reform edges periodically and use
a slightly concave shape for top so water won’t
run off.

Choosing the Right Soil

The easiest way to ensure the right soil is to order garden soil mix, half of it being top soil and the other half compost.

If you already have good top soil, simply add in compost.

Creating Paths

Do you need to get a mower in between your beds?  Can you work comfortably back to back?

The paths in between your beds should be measured at 4 feet or wider to ensure that you can both walk and mow between the beds without issue.

Some path options include:

  • Grass
  • Woodchips/Mulch
  • Straw
  • Stones
  • Bricks/Pavers

Cost

The price of your raised bed will depends on materials used. Pre-made beds will usually cost the most while no walls obviously will cost you the least.

The initial cost will ultimately be higher than ground plots, but it’s well worth the investment.

Constructing Your Raised Bed Garden

The first step in constructing your raised bed is to remove the sod and till the soil where you’ll be putting your bed. After you’ve determined the length and width of your bed, hammer the walls together with nails to make a rectangular bed. Once you’ve constructed the walls, fill your bed with soil mix and level it.

Raised Bed Construction

Plant Selection

Raised beds allow you to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Some vegetables, like corn, pumpkins and watermelon, may take up too much space for the amount of food produced.

Raised Bed Planting Plan

Planting PlannerIt is a good idea to make a plan before you plant so that you use your space efficiently.

It’s easier, and more space efficient, to plant across your bed then to plant the length of the bed.

Use multi-cropping technique to make full use of your beds during multiple seasons. Multiple cropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in the same piece of land during a single growing season.

Raised Bed Spacing Guide

Spacing your plants and seeds in raised beds is different than in a ground plot. As I mentioned before, YOU NEVER WALK IN THE BEDS, so you do not need wide rows to walk through in the actual bed.

A good rule of thumb is to plant tallest vegetables on north side of bed, shorter vegetables on the south side so they don’t shade each other.

To help you with our seeds, we’ve created a plant spacing guide that shows you the proper distance between rows to plant your seeds. Make sure to use half of the recommended plant spacing distance for the edge of the bed.

Maintaining your Raised Bed Garden

Maintaining Raised BedFor starters, prepare soil for planting by using a small lightweight tiller or use hand tools to turn the soil and mix in the compost.

Add organic matter to mulch your plants. You may need to add compost after 2-3 years as soil lowers in bed.

Make sure to mulch your plants well. Raised beds drain well so the soil tends to dry out quicker.

Common Mistakes

Some common mistakes to avoid include:
Treated Wood Raised Bed

  • Using treated lumber
  • Not notching the joints when constructing
  • Using a bad soil mix
  • Walking in the beds
  • Improper plant spacing
  • Not watering long enough
  • Not rotating crops
  • Putting landscape fabric under the beds

So there you have it! Everything you need to know to build your very own raised garden. So what are you waiting for? Find your location, gather your materials, buy some seeds, and find out why raised gardens are the way to go!