Why a raised bed garden, anyway? Why not just stay content being a garden-variety gardener? Well, one thing raised beds have going for them is tidiness – you’ll enjoy a greater degree of control over your garden and will quickly be able to deal with any issues that might plague it.
For many home owners, another perk of raised bed gardens is their appearance. Home owners who want to avoid making their whole yard resemble a farm or a greenhouse will definitely appreciate the borders raised by the bed – think of it as a really big flower pot with more uses.
You don’t need contractors to build your raised bed garden – all you’ll need is a bit of material and a lot of motivation.
The raised bed building basics
Obviously, the first thing to get out of the way is where you want your raised bed garden to be. Front yard? Backyard? Somewhere in the middle? If you have both a sizeable front and back yard, the choice can seem difficult. If you’re growing edibles and similar vegetation that can appear unsightly, you might want to opt for the backyard. If flowers or exotic fruit is what you’ll be raising, there’s no reason not to show it off by growing it up front. Also, whichever place you choose, make sure that it’s sunny enough.
Once you have the location down, you’ll need the materials. Lumber is by far the most important, and you’ll want to be careful when picking each plank. There are two things to look out for when picking lumber:
- If you’re growing anything edible, the lumber you pick must not have been treated with toxic materials at any point from the moment it was cut down to when it finally reached the store. Even if what you grow isn’t edible, toxic substances certainly aren’t going to aid the growth – besides, you could always change your mind and decide to grow some cabbage later on. Either way, insist on knowing every substance applied to the lumber you’re thinking of buying before making a purchase.
- The wood will have to be rot-resistant. This one is a no-brainer as well: since you’ll be doing a whole lot of watering, you can’t afford the body of your raised bed garden rotting away – the resistance to rot can either be natural or come from pressure treatments, but be sure that there are none of the aforementioned harmful chemicals in the latter case.
You’ll also have to make a choice on whether to use a bottomless raised bed or not. Bottomless raised bed gardens can only work on yards with good soil quality – if yours isn’t one of them, you’ll have to add a bottom ‘shelf’ to the garden and bring the soil in from elsewhere.
Once you have the planks down, it’s a simple (hopefully) matter of connecting them with bolts, nails and screws – of course, you’ll also have to drill drainage holes in the side planks for the water to come out, even if you have a bottomless raised bed.
As you grow, you’ll no doubt feel compelled to make more additions to the bed or change its shape or size. While alterations are welcome, keep one thing in mind: simple, long and thin does the job best!