Create Your Own Raised Garden Tips

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Are raised bed garden kids good for school kids?

Kits and Kids

Kids...they're too cool to garden, right? Actually, teachers have been making raised bed garden projects in several schools, especially urban schools. Can kids become miniature George Washington Carvers and do a DIY raised garden bed?

As with any project, raised garden beds require adult supervision. But kids love the idea of creating an above ground garden that they can check on every day and watch plants growing. A raised bed garden kit with the square foot method may be easiest for teachers to implement, since results are controlled. Some no-kidding tips:

  • Make the frame manageable, no larger than three feet by three feet.
  • Use a raised bed garden kit with plastic timbers, which last longer and are easier to work with.
  • While you're waiting for kit delivery, have kids start seeds at home if they're slow-maturing. Fast-maturing vegetables may be easier for kids to manage and report on once you get the raised garden beds.
  • Don't feel you have to buy a kiddie raised bed garden kit. The standard ones you can buy from manufacturers will work well.

Kids are more in touch with nature than we imagine--give them the gift of growing something on their own, with a little help from a raised bed garden kit.

Can I use untrated wood for my DIY raised bed?

Royal Untreatment

You're a born DIY--you watch HGTV and the DIY network.

Your only problem in making a DIY raised garden bed: listening to conflicting advice. Don't use untreated wood for an above ground garden. Use a raised bed garden kit. Don't use prefab raised garden beds. When making raised bed or vegetable garden plans, you may just have to work with whatever you have. Untreated wood is generally frowned on because it may rot or carry diseases. Plus, it isn't as watertight, so the soil may leach out--however, treated wood has toxin warning labels.

You'll typically use redwood or cedar, which are leak-free and rot-free, but if they aren't available, you'll have to make do. When creating a DIY raised garden bed with untreated wood, DIY yourself a favor and line raised garden beds with plastic liners to prevent soil loss. You can do this for raised garden beds made with redwood and cedar too.

Listen to conflicting advice? Not you--you just listen to everything and decide what works. Now if you could turn a deaf ear to your mom insisting that the paint in your living room is the wrong shade...

Am I stuck with the shape of a raised bed garden kit?

Can't Break the Mold?

It's typical: Whenever you order something, your needs change the next day. That computer was obsolete two seconds after you took it from the box. You ordered a single-tier raised garden bed kit, and the next day your honeybear decided not to remove the grass on the lawn. Making raised bed garden, like making your computer faster, seems impossible.

Actually, here's a tip: Clean up all the extra applications Dell or Compaq installs on your computer--you won't use half of them. Get a cable or broadband connection. As for raised garden beds, you can send them back, can't you? Ah, but what if you can't exchange them? Even a DIY raised garden bed can suffer from lack of planning. What if you have to expand your above ground garden to eight feet and you only planned for four?

Many raised bed garden kit sellers will allow you to customize your kit or order additional timbers or tiers. You can use stackable joints to build a second tier on your above ground garden to combat that grass problem. You have your new superfast computer and you have raised garden beds that work. You know how to adapt to change--but gaining two pounds after you bought that killer little black dress? Now, there's a change that makes you want to build more raised garden beds to work off the weight.

I want to do a boat shape raised bed garden, can I?

Whatever Floats the Boat

You'd live on a boat, but you get seasick. So you decorate your home in a nautical theme. You even want an above ground garden that's boat shaped. Your friends who are making raised garden beds tell you you're boat crazy. Can you buy a raised bed garden kit to suit your nautilomania?

Actually, yes. If you can't buy boat-shaped kits for raised garden beds, you can choose a customizable kit for a DIY raised garden bed. You can even combine triangular raised garden beds with two-tiered raised garden beds--they will look like cruise ships! Just be sure to outfit your boat-shaped above ground garden with plenty of life preservers, er, fertilizer.

We love boats too--but insisting on being called "Skipper" and doing a Leonardo Dicaprio "King of the World" impression is annoying. Stick to making raised bed garden plots.

Can I create a raised bed garden in the shape of a maze?

Lost in a Maze

You saw "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." You just had to have that maze to keep people from discovering the secrets of your gardens. Alas, there are no prefab maze kits for raised garden beds that feature pugilistic shrubs.

If you're making raised bed garden mazes, you can't buy an all-in-one raised bed garden kit, and you're not a magician who can connjure up a DIY raised garden bed. However, you can buy several different shapes and varieties of a raised bed garden kit and arrange them in a maze, assuming you have the lawn space of Hogwarts. If you don't, you may have to settle for planting several raised garden beds around a path intersection and an octagonal above ground garden in the center.

You can create a mini-maze--buy overgrown shrubs that reach out to grab you, add a Harry Potter cutout, and voila, instant magical maze. However, if you start stunning people who wander into your garden, we'll be tempted to sic the unpleasant Professor Snape on you.

What do I do if my raised garden bed abuts my house?

Raised Garden Bed Attachments

You're often accused of being too attached to take in all the neighborhood strays. Naturally you need a garden to feed all the people who drop by. But you have little space and so you have to position your above ground garden against the house. How do you make your open-ended garden attractive while you're nourishing the neighborhood?

You can remove the side of a custom or pre-made raised bed garden kit, and add a finishing sleeve so that when you're making raised bed garden boundaries, you have the illusion of a back border. For a DIY raised bed garden, add a cornerstone, concrete block or wooden post. You need your raised bed garden close to the house so you can grab the tomatoes and dice them for the salsa or soup! Attached? No--you're just warm and loving.

Do I build a trellis at the same time I build my raised bed?

Trellis Tricks and Tips

You love beans so much you're even fond of Mr. Bean--who woudn't love that dry British humor from Rowan Atkinson? Now you want to grow pole beans and bush beans in your above ground garden. You've always been told you need a trellis.

If you're making a DIY raised garden bed, do you tack your trellis onto your timber? If you build your trellis at the wrong time when making raised ged garden projects, you can end up in one of the comic misadventures of Mr. Bean.

The DIY Network recommends that whether you use a raised bed garden kit or a DIY raised garden bed, you build your trellises after you build your raised garden beds. Install trellises and tepees at the same time you sow your beans. DIY Network suggests that you build three-pole tepees to avoid disturbing roots. After all, we don't want to get Mr. Bean in a spot or a cock-up, do we? Cool beans!

How do I protect my raised garden bed during construction?

Guarding Gardens

You thought your raised garden beds would take an hour, just like you thought Christmas shopping would take an hour. But after sweating it at the malls, you've decided you're going to grow veggies for gifts next year. How do you protect your DIY raised garden bed from winter, storms (if you live in a warm but rainy climate), and the elements when you're making raised bed garden while the sun shines? Here are our above ground garden above-the-call-o-f-duty protection tips:

  • Cover fresh sod or soil with mulch--it provides nutrients or, in the case of plastic mulch, keeps the soil warm.
  • Be mindful of where water runs off--you don't want your soil to lose moisture.
  • Plant mondo grass or ryegrass between beds. Woodchips are another alternative to protect the soil.
  • Windbreaks of espalier trees, conifers and evergreens as well as flowering rhododendron and bougainvillea shrubs will protect your beds from wind.
  • Urine and dried blood as well as pest-repelling plants will keep intruders from disturbing your garden.

While you're savoring the thought of avoiding the mall madness by gifting vegetables and fruit from raised garden beds, guard your garden well as the project gets delayed until after the holidays. You can work on your garden while the relatives are camped out at your house--just be sure to guard agaisnt the usual "helpful" suggestions!

What tools do I need for a raised garden bed?

Raised Garden Bed Tools

Men and toys--it's a cliche because it's true. But women like gadgets too. And women usually organize their tools--though men can point to tools blindfolded and know which is which. What toys do you need for a DIY raised garden bed? We've asked the advice of several men and women. Here's a short list, and several of them work for a raised bed garden kit:

  • Level for soil in the above ground garden
  • Sod stripper for clearing space for raised garden beds
  • Rented hand tamper for the soil
  • Spade
  • Pitchfork
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Rototiller for the cleared soil and the initial soil you place in the bed
  • Sledgehammer
  • Drill and drill bits
  • A square
  • Mechanical pencil
  • Saw

Now you have all the tools you need for making raised bed garden plots. You need your tools...and fortunately, you love them. Just call you the Tool Time Girl.

How do I use landscape ties in my DIY raised bed garden?

Strong Landscape Ties

Family ties, bow ties, and landscape ties. You need all of the above, especially when you and your family are making raised bed garden'll wear the bow ties for a night on the town to celebrate making your above ground garden.

You've decided that using a raised bed garden kit isn't as rewarding or as nurturing of family ties--a DIY raised garden bed is the way to go. You've used some railroad ties (great opportunity for Grandpa to tell tales of his exploits running the rails). But the easiest raised garden beds are made with landscape ties, which you can buy from a landscaping or garden store.

Landscaping ties will anchor the corner of your raised garden beds as well as form the frame. Note that for landscape ties treated with ACQ (alkaline copper quaternary), you need stainless steel fasteners for your frame. Landscaping ties work best in shorter raised garden beds, so create several small raised garden beds rather than one large bed. More family bonding time! Build those family ties.

You can finish the project by painting the landscape ties in an attractive weatherproof finish. It's time to sit back as a family and admire your DIY raised bed garden. Now, put on those bow ties and hair bows and go out dancing!

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Guru Spotlight
Christina Chan