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If you have physical challenges or if you like highly organized spaces, raised bed gardens or gardens that include raised beds can be the most fun and successful gardens.
They have many benefits and we will review them for you here. We will show how to create them, what the best soil is to fill them with and what kinds of plants can be grown in them.
We will present different designs for raised bed gardens that you can use or you can just use all the information as inspiration to plan and build and enjoy your own.
The benefits of raised beds are many. Here is a list though it is not complete;
1. Improved drainage due to the perfect soil mix.
2. Easy weed & pest control.
3. Easy on the back, how high do you want them?
4. Better yield due to the perfect soil.
5. Plants are out of the way of most critters.
6. Earlier planting of vegetables in cold winter areas.
I present a lot of information below, but before I give you an education on raised planters, in case you don't want to learn but just want to download our free raised bed plans, below are 2 different plans for you.
Please look at the raised bed designs I have here, and think about what would serve your wants and needs best.
Click here for our Raised Bed Garden Plan #1.
Click here to see our Raised Bed Front Yard Plan.
You might want to write down your concerns about your particular space and make notes as to what works best for you. When you are done, you should have a pretty good direction for how your raised bed garden will look like.
Whether you buy them, design and build your own or use our designs we have for you here, I hope you will give raised beds a try, you may really like them!
You may want to consider buying your raised beds if building them is not something you think of as an enjoyable activity. There are many different designs to choose from.
Whether you buy or build, there are many choices available so you can personalize your garden. Do you want real wood, or composite boards? If wood is your choice, then do you want Redwood or Cedar?
Treated wood should be avoided as the chemicals can leach into the soil. If you are growing edibles this is not desirable.
Wood beds on the ground can be 6" x 6" timbers or 2" x 8" boards, or a combination of wood and galvanized metal. Wood can be logs also. The possibilities are really only limited by your imagination. As long as it is sturdy since it will be holding back a lot of weight once you fill them with soil and water.
Beds can also be made from concrete blocks you may have around the house for a quick and easy bed.
How high do you want the beds to be? Design possiblities are endless and we present some designs here either for inspiration or for you to use for your own garden.
If you are building you own and will be situating them on the ground, make sure you do not put a solid bottom on them. You will want not only for them to be able to drain out the bottom, you also want them to be able to get some of the organic activity from the ground underneath. Hopefully you will get some earthworms to come up into your beds and do their magic.
If gophers and moles or other ground critters are a concern, place a sturdy wire mesh on the bottom of your beds and attach to the inside of the bed with a staple gun or a nail gun.
You will want to plan to install your raised beds in the sunniest part of the garden. If they are long, you want to have the long side facing south so the plants get the most sunshine. Also tall plants in the back will not block the sun from the plants in the front.
Make sure there are no tree roots in the area that could grow under and lift the beds and make them uneven or worst yet, grow up into your nice, fertile, perfect soil. If the only area you have for the beds has some roots, be sure to install some root barriers around the beds so the roots get diverted away from the beds.
And finally, make sure the beds are level when you are done installing them. If you start with a level site, it will make it much easier.
The material you use to cover the soil between the raised beds is another opportunity for you to customize this area of your garden. A few choices are;
2. Decomposed Granite
3. Mulch or wood chips
5. Brick or pavers
All of these materials will give you a nice surface to walk on between your raised beds. Some like the gravel, decomposed granite and brick probably have the lowest maintenance needs. Grass will need mowing and mulch and wood chips will need replenishing from time to time.
The important thing to keep in mind is to use a material that looks pleasing to you, will stand up to the wear and tear it will receive, and keep your feet out of the mud and be a comfortable surface for you to walk on as you do your maintenance chores.
Make sure you make the aisles wide enough for a wheelbarrow to be used. If you use a garden tractor, the same applies.
There are several ways to water your raised bed garden, this is a very important consideration since without proper watering, your plants will not thrive.
Unless you live in an area where you get enough rain, you will need to install some sort of irrigation system. Several methods are available for you to consider.
A drip irrigation system is a good way to go as it will apply the water directly to the soil and evaporation and waste is kept to a minimum. Coupled with an automatic timer, this is a carefree way to ensure your garden is kept well watered.
A recycled rubber soaker hose can be used, it can be laid on top of the soil and either turned on by hand or connected to an automatic timer.
Watering by hand is always an option but one that should be thought out, do you really have time to water your garden by hand? Will you be able to do it often enough during the hot summer months so that your plants do not dry out?
Most plants like a regular watering schedule and do not like to dry out, or be over watered. So whatever system works best for you, considering an automatic timer is well worth the $30-$50 cost.
If you choose to design your own, please keep these items in mind. make sure to make your raised beds no more than 2' across for access from one side, 4'if there will be access on both sides of the bed.
At no time should you walk on the soil in the beds, this will defeat all your hard work in having the perfect soil by compacting it and reducing the level of oxygen in the soil.
The height of the beds is another consideration. Some beds are built on top of tall legs so the beds are at a comfortable chest level to work. People with back problems or older folks may want to consider this type of raised bed garden.
Multiple levels also add a lot of interest to the garden. Some beds can wrap around others, some may be built out of one material like 6" x 6" landscape timbers with another bed wrapping around the base made of bricks.
You can build the best looking raised beds, place them on sunny, level ground, keep them away from rampant roots and plant them with the best plants. BUT, if you don't use a good soil mix, then all of your other work will be wasted. Because without good soil, your plants will not thrive, will not bloom well, and will not bear those huge harvests.
So, your soil is one of the most important factors to success. you will find everyone has their BEST recipe for soil but here is mine and it is not complicated. If you know of another combination that you would rather use, just make sure it drains well, retains water well and has plenty of organic material in it.
Here it is:
50% clean topsoil
Add some organic fertilizer to the mix like chicken, cow manure, mushroom compost, worm castings are all good fertilizers to use. Mix it all up thoroughly and wet well with a hose but don't make it too wet.
Depending on how large your beds are, if you have a lot you may want to buy in bulk at the local materials yard and have it delivered. Make sure you ask for clean topsoil, and if you decide to use manures be sure they are not hot and have been well aged or they'll burn your plants.
If you have access to a cement mixer it makes a great way to mix your soil! and it's fun. You can put your soil, compost and fertilizer in the mixer turn on the mixer and squirt water in with a hose until it is moist but not wet. Then simply turn it out into your wheelbarrow and fill your planters.
As always, thank you for looking, I hope you learned something and will give raised bed gardens a try. And if you like my page, please tell your friends about our site.