title:Building a Raised Garden Bed

author:Janeth Duque
date_saved:2007-07-25 12:30:12

You can save money by building your own raised garden bed. These can be used for flowers and even for vegetables. They are gaining in popularity because they are easy and inexpensive to build, making them practical parts of the landscape. Additionally, they are fairy easy to plant and maintain. They are even relatively easy to weed. In addition to being convenient and practical in maintenance, they also drain sooner as well as warm up faster. This means that you can plant earlier in the season, resulting in the possibility of multiple harvests if you use your raised gardens for vegetables. You can make your garden a temporary bed or a permanent bed, and reap the benefits of a simple way to enjoy your landscape more and even dress it up a little bit.
The first thing you need to do is make sure that you have all of the necessary tools and materials. You can make your beds out of rocks, concrete blocks, bricks, naturally rot-resistant wood (cypress is very slow to decompose), or wood treated with a safe preservative. It is important to make sure that treated wood does not have anything harmful in it that could leach into the soil and thus be absorbed by the plants. This is especially important if you plan to eat whatever you are growing in your raised bed. Other things that you will need include optional wood preservative (like sealant) or sheet plastic, spading fork, shovel, iron rake, hammer and nails, measuring tape, compost, and topsoil. All of things are necessary for creating a successful raised garden bed.
When making a permanent garden bed, you should make sure to use more permanent materials. If you plan to use your bed for flowers as a prominent part of your landscape, bricks make very nice beds, as they are attractive and often complement most traditional landscape designs and plants. The bed can be as long as you would like it to be, but it should be at least one foot deep and no more than four feet wide. Wider beds can make it difficult to reach the middle of the bed to take care of things like weeding and fertilizing. If you have the bed against a house or fence, wide beds make it difficult to reach the backside of the bed as well.
Temporary beds, unlike permanent beds, allow you to change the design every year. If you like the idea of being able to make small changes to your landscape each growing season, then temporary beds can help you achieve this. Additionally, they are easier and less expensive to remove if you decide that you would like to take them out. Wood is best for these types of beds, as the wood can easily be taken apart. Choosing attractive woods can add to the look of your landscape design. You can also decorate the wood with non-toxic paint if you would like to have a little different look. As with permanent beds, make sure that you build them at least with a foot of depth and not very wide.
When planting your beds, whether permanent or temporary, you should begin by preparing the bed. Remove rocks, sticks, and debris from the beds and make sure that they are prepared for plantings. Be sure to allow for drainage. You can build your bed on a patio or on soil, but either way you should ensure that there are adequate pathways for excess moisture to escape. When using brick or concrete blocks, they can be stacked in a staggered fashion to allow water out of the bed. When building on top of soil, loosen the bottom soil with a shovel or spading fork. The bed should be filled from bottom to top with a compost and topsoil mixture. After this is done, rake the top of the bed so that it is smooth.
Once the bed is prepared, you can plant flowers, herbs, or vegetables inside the bed. Tall plants should be put in against a fence or wall, or on the bed?s northern side. Make sure that you take proper care of your plants in your bed, and remember that raised beds can dry out faster. They may need a little more water. Avoid stepping on the bed as much as possible to prevent soil compaction, and follow up your planting with a proper application of mulch.

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