Raised-bed gardens are a great way to grow vegetables and maximize gardening space almost anywhere in your yard. They are ideal for planting a garden in areas where soil is of poor quality, experiences poor drainage or is compacted. They are easy to weed, and because the soil can drain faster and warm up quicker in spring, they enable you to plant earlier in the season.
Your raised-bed gardens can be permanent or temporary. Keep reading to find out more about making your garden manageable with raised beds.
Step 1: Build a Raised Garden Bed
When building a raised garden bed, use wood, bricks, rocks or cement blocks. Create a bed that is as long as you like but at least 1’ deep and no more than 3’ to 4’ wide. Beds wider than 3’ to 4’ are hard to reach the center of to weed, water and fertilize.
Build your raised bed on level ground. Choose a space where the raised bed will receive eight hours of sun a day.
If you are building with wood, be sure it is a rot-resistant variety, such as cedar. Use a pencil and measuring tape to mark your lumber with the decided-on dimensions and cut with a circular saw. Attach the wood pieces together using wood screws and an electric screwdriver.
To slow the rotting of the wood, consider painting the wood with a natural preservative such as linseed oil or borax-based treatments.
If your raised-bed garden sits directly on soil, you can line the bottom of the bed with hardware cloth to prevent sneak attacks from moles and other burrowing critters. You can also affix a sheet of plywood to the bottom of the bed to protect it from animals and roots from other plants that may grow up through the bed. If you use a plywood bottom, drill holes in it at intervals so that the bed receives proper drainage.
If you’re not using a bottom panel, improve drainage by loosening the soil in the bottom of the bed with a shovel or spading fork. Then fill the bed to the top with a mixture of compost and quality topsoil, such as Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Flowers & Vegetables or Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice Garden Soil. Remove sticks, rocks and other debris before raking the tops of the beds smooth and flat.
Step 2: Plant in Raised Garden Bed
Plant your favorite vegetables, herbs and flowering plants at the proper times for your region. Concentrate fertilizer application right around the plants and try not to compact the soil by stepping on it. Plant tall plants against a wall or on the north side of the bed.
Use a soil testing kit to determine the soil pH level of your garden beds. This will help you decide what soil amendments you may need for a more successful crop yield.
Succession planting works very well in raised beds. For example, once an early crop of lettuce is finished, pull out those plants and plant another crop such as beans. If a plant gets diseased or infested with insects, pull it out immediately and replace it with a different plant so the problem doesn't spread.
Step 3: Water and Feed Regularly
Raised beds may dry out faster than other garden beds, so water regularly. Also, because there is less soil mass to provide food for the plants, fertilize regularly with an all-purpose plant food. For excellent results, try Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice All-Purpose Organic Plant Food, followed by a healthy dose of water or to feed and water at the same time use Miracle-Gro® LiquaFeed®.
Step 4: Mulch Raised Garden Beds
Mulch with straw, shredded bark, or other organic materials to conserve water and prevent weeds from growing inside your raised beds. Layer the mulch at a depth of 2" to 4". It should be thick enough to block light and keep weeds from sprouting. Mulch breaks down steadily over time. Replenish when just a thin layer remains. By adding mulch, you are improving your soil and reducing the need to water and pull weeds.
Great job! Enjoy the healthy and tasty vegetables straight from your raised-bed gardens.
Project Shopping List
Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.