Building Raised Garden Beds Tips

Read these 14 Building Raised Garden Beds Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Raised Garden tips and hundreds of other topics.

Building Raised Garden Beds Tips has been rated 3.4 out of 5 based on 776 ratings and 2 user reviews.

Drainage for raised gardens

Fill the bottom of the bed with a 6- to 8-inch layer of crushed rock (medium-, not pebble-sized) to allow for good drainage.

   

Building a dry wall for a raised garden

To build up a raised bed using dry rock – meaning rocks without mortar – proceed in layers. After excavating the hole and laying the drainage rubble, fill it to nearly ground level with prepared soil, firmly packed, then place your first layer of stones. When completed, again bring the soil mixture to near level; then repeat. (The same applies if using railroad ties, pre-fabricated kits or even tires; what matters are a sturdy frame and a level bed.)

   
Can I use stone to build raised bed gardens?

Gardens of Stone

You don't want a heart of stone--you're an earth mother. But building raised garden beds with stone doesn't mean you're cold--it means you want to protect your plants. Raised stone beds bring style, charm and elegance. But you've never considered how to build a raised bed garden using stones. Here are some rock-solid hints:

  1. Check your local garden or stone supplier to determine which stone is right for your garden. Some suggestions: tumbled concrete, field stone, pavers, granite.
  2. Make sure to dig a trench around the shape of your bed. The trench should be four to five inches deep, but the width depends on the width and type of the stone.
  3. Depending on how high your wall will be, fill the trench with crushed limestone.
  4. Don't add the soil yet! Lay the sones evenly, overlapping as boards do, and tilted inward so that they point to the center of the garden.
  5. Use a chisel to change the shape of the stone--don't forget safety gear such as goggles, gloves and a smock.
  6. Backfill the bed with crushed stone--check to see that it doesn't contain silt or limestone.
  7. Leave one of the stone walls open the way you do when you follow instructions on how to build raised bed gardens with a wood frame.
  8. Add the soil!

The crushed stone will prevent it from sliding away, and will provide natural drainage. Stone is good for building raised beds with wood frames too. Shirley Brenon, gardening enthusiast and writer of a weekly gardening column for the Palm Springs, California newspaper THE DESERT SUN, advises building raised garden beds with rocks and gravel in the bottom to help drainage and safeguard the soil. Even Mother Nature needs a fortress to protect her turf--so guard yours with great-looking stone when building raised beds.

   
How do I lay the soil when building raised bed gardens?

Laying Down the Soil

Wood or stone frame, check. Cleared grass or dirt, check. Plant, check. What have you forgotten in building raised beds? Here's a hint: You ate it when you were a kid.
Plant soil is one of those essential items in instructions on how to build a raised bed garden. And no, you can't use regular dirt--you need to use garden soil in building raised garden beds. But once you've got the soil, how do you lay it all out? Some earthy hints:

  • Make sure the soil covers the area enclosed by the wood or stone frame. It's easy to skimp on soil around the corners, but measure the soil depths. Even soil is best.
  • Leave the ends of the boxes open so you can easily deposit soil with a wheelbarrow. Don't seal everything up tightly until the soil is evenly spread.
  • Frames and the garden area should be dry--the soil needs to be moist but not too wet. If the soil forms mudballs, you need to drain it or put it out to dry.
  • If you're planning to add plants for benches, pour the soil in the frames first.
  • Geometric raised bed shapes with angles other than right angles can be tricky--make sure the soil doesn't lump all in one spot or cling to the corners.

Now if you can keep your own terrible twosters from eating the soil, you're all set.

   
What's the best wood to build a raised bed garden?

Cedar, Pine, or Cypress?

The poet Ken Mikolowski humorously wrote, "Someday soon/nothing/will be/made/out of/wood/not even/trees." (Big Enigmas, 1991) It seems true even when you're building raised beds, because there are many types of wood available for borders. You can even buy composite plastic timbers.

Many experts on how to build a raised garden insist that cedar or natural wood timbers are the way to go. Others, when talking about how to build raised bed gardens, will argue that composite plastic timbers won't rot or splinter--though plastic can warp. Other experts, such as HGTV "Seasoned Gardener" host Chris Dawson, argue that wood works well as long as you use cedar, cypress or redwood when building raised garden beds.

Remember, if you're using pressure treated lumber, check to see that they don't contain any toxic materials that might leak into the soil and poison your garden. Let poetic musings on the state of the environment guide you to be an ecologically responsible gardener. After all, you're learning how to build a raised bed garden because you love nature.

   
How do I keep the raised bed garden frame from colapsing?

Collapse!

You've decided that you're going to use the lumber from the woodpile and not a store-bought solution when you're building raised beds. But you haven't chopped wood in years and you just got the woodpile because of high energy costs. How do you keep that homemade timber from collapsing or splitting and spilling your cucumbers all over the yard for the raccoons?

Here are our crash-course Boy Scout tips on how to build a raised bed garden that's collapse-proof. We had a little help getting our merit badge from show recaps of HGTV's Chris Dawson's "Seasoned Gardener".

  1. Cut the corners of your boards so that they'll form overlapping joints when you lay them.
  2. Stick to a standard board size--two inches thick by eight, ten, or twelve inches wide. The board should ideally be eight or ten inches long.
  3. Pre-drill holes so the wood doesn't split when you hammer spikes to secure the corners. You can leave one or two unsecured when you're adding soil from a wheelbarrow.
  4. If you're wondering how to build raised bed gardens that are tiered, say for L-shaped gardens, you only need four-foot lengths of board (or more depending on the shape). Follow the tip for hammering spikes in the corners.
  5. You might want to add stakes to the top tier to fasten it to the lower tier.

Now that you're a regular Ethan Allen, or at least a Cub Scout, you can have a feeling of pride every time you look at your woodpile--just keep the raccoons out of it since they can't get your vegetables!

   
What is a raisen garden bed and why should I build one?

What Is a Raised Garden Bed?

Your image of a gardener is someone hunched over with back problems. And you always thought gardening was supposed to be relaxing, therapeutic, soothing, make you one with nature...not one with the aspirin bottle. Raised gardens may make pain reliever manufacturers reach for their own products. Building raised beds allows you to sit on a bench while you construct wooden geometric boxes.

Simply put, raised gardens are square, round, rectangular, octagonal, or trapezoidal planting containers. No matter what size backyard you have, you can build a beautiful garden without digging up the entire lawn and worrying about neighborhood kids tearing through the tomato plants you've sacrificed your posture to grow.

Building raised garden beds is pain-free and simple. They're ideal if your soil is rocky, alkaline (salty), or clay-based. All you need are:

  • Instructions on how to build a raised garden
  • Cedar wood containers
  • Plans describing how to build a raised bed garden in the shape or pattern you want
  • Soil and mulch
  • Desired plants
  • Plenty of aeration and irrigation
  • Your imagination!

Now that you know why you should build raised bed gardens, you can reach for tips on how to build raised bed gardens. Leave the aspirin in the medicine cabinet!

   

Drainage for raised gardens

Fill the bottom of the bed with a 6- to 8-inch layer of crushed rock (medium-, not pebble-sized) to allow for good drainage.

   
How do I keep weeds and leaves out when building my raised beds?

Weeds and Leaves Be Gone

You've staked out a star-shaped spot where you'll be building raisen garden beds. The only problem: weeds. You keep spraying and mowing, pulling and yanking, tossing and turning, but you can't get rid of weeds and grass. Lawn grass can actually remain when you're building raised beds. HGTV's "Small Solutions" showed viewers how to build raised bed gardens with stone.

Gardening expert Marianne Binetti uses stacking cottage stones that you can place directly on grass. Binetti covers the grass with soil as you normally would in building raised garden beds. However, if you have a weed problem and lots of foliage, you wonder how to build a raised bed garden without clearing the soil, which is firm and ideal.

You can actually spread old newspapers on the ground--especially since you don't have time to read them because of your weed woes and learning how to build a raised garden. (Too bad--there was a tip on gardening on page B6.) Or you can use gardening cloth--just trim it in a star shape and do the same if you use newspapers. Then, you fill the star with soil. Mound the soil heavily and add compost just in case the weeds break through! So quit worrying about weeds and start enjoying building raised garden beds.

   
Can I change the shape of my raised bed garden?

Bend Me, Shape Me, Any Way You Want Me

Your wonderful octagonal cedar raised garden bed draws oohs and ahs. The one minor problem: it doesn't attract enough sun and your plants are dying on the vine. What do you do?

Your garden may be the wrong shape, or you may have placed your plants at the wrong angles. When you're building raised beds, make note of where the sunlight falls. If, say, you install an arbor or a statue that blocks the sun, your task becomes how to build a raised garden without necessarily moving either the garden or the statue. You can re-shape that raised garden with a stackable stake system.

Building raised garden beds becomes easier if you can expand them or change the shape--though you may have to replant tomatoes and cucumbers in an area with more sun exposure. Once you have the directions on how to build raised bed gardens from a kit, you can alter that octagon to make it, say, a hexagon or a pentagon. Or perhaps you want a star shape, because your garden is the star of your backyard.

Now with the knowledge of how to adjust and how to build raised bed gardens, your vegetables can shine like the stars...thanks to proper sunlight.

   
How large should I build my raised bed garden?

Raised Bed Garden Size

Now that you're building raised beds, you can make them as large as the rainforest, right? Only if you plan on rainforest-sized problems! A raised bed garden can be as large as your yard, but you still have to tend them.

In dispensing advice on how to build raised bed gardens, HGTV's "Seasoned Gardener" Chris Dawson suggests building raised garden beds that are no more than four feet wide and ten feet long for easy reach and warp-free frames. You can build several of these beds in a star or horseshoe pattern, say, but you might want to stick to a consistent size for each.

If your beds seem too small, check for information on how to build a raised garden with the plants you've chosen. The plants themselves may be too large. If you build the rainforest, you may just have developers tromping through your backyard, along with Greenpeace activists--so choose a small piece of the rainforest and be happy that you've done your part to save endangered species.

   
How do I build in protection for my raised bed garden plants?

Intruder Alert!

When we're building a home, we want to keep pests at bay--sadly, that doesn't extend to unpleasant relatives. We also wire the house with a security system. Building raised beds is no different. You can keep out relatives from the animal kingdom, including that raccoon that looks a little like your sister-in-law.

When you're laying the timbers and soil for your raised bed garden, you think that chicken wire might just do the trick. Unfortunately, the reason you learned how to build raised bed gardens was to make your yard look more attractive. Most directions on how to build a raised bed garden don't include information on how to protect your petunias and potatoes. Here are our helpful hints for hindering pests:

  • Get an underground fence that sends out an audio signal. You can keep dogs and cats away with the kind that has a radio transmitter for your pets' collars. Place the underground fence a few inches from your garden area. Make sure you choose one that you adjust according to your garden shape.
  • Use a motion-activated garden sprinkler--aim it away from the garden and toward where the pests typically lurk.
  • You can install netting when you lay out the frame for your raised bed gardens--check your instructions on how to build a raised bed garden if you have a kit for building raised garden beds.
  • Attaching a tight knitted chicken wire on the bottom of your raised garden frame before back filling it with soil will prevent tunneling critters such as ground hogs.
  • Want to sprinkle wood and soil with pest control chemicals? Try an organic variety that won't poison the environment and ruin the wood you've used in building raised beds.

You've learned how to buld a raised garden that's pest-proof. Now if only you could keep away your sister-in-law so easily.

   

Building a dry wall for a raised garden

To build up a raised bed using dry rock – meaning rocks without mortar – proceed in layers. After excavating the hole and laying the drainage rubble, fill it to nearly ground level with prepared soil, firmly packed, then place your first layer of stones. When completed, again bring the soil mixture to near level; then repeat. (The same applies if using railroad ties, pre-fabricated kits or even tires; what matters are a sturdy frame and a level bed.)

   
How do I make sure my frame is even?

Suitable for Framing

You knew planting a garden would be a rocky road...especially since you have rocky soil. When you're building raised garden beds, assuming you're not trying for a terraced garden on a slope, you want the frame to be even. Here are our even-handed tips on how to build raised bed gardens that are straight and level:

  • Place the raised bed frame on the spot you've marked out--if it looks uneven, dig out the sod and topsoil, then replace and retest.
  • No one will give you instructions on how to build a raised bed garden without suggesting you use a level to ensure all the sides are even.
  • You may want a raised hill bed garden to drain the water easier, but check the incline with a level.
  • Turf grass will typically break down once it's covered with soil, so you don't have to remove it to even the frame.

Now you can build perfectly proportioned, even raised beds--you have rocks in your yard, but they're not in your head!

   
Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Raised Garden Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!


Guru Spotlight
Alexis Niki