Raised garden beds

Raised garden beds are excellent options for creating almost instant planting areas, whilst adding further features to your garden. They can be used to grow pretty much anything in, commonly vegetables, but you really don’t need to stop there. You just need to check that you will have sufficient depth of soil for what you are intending to grow. One particular advantage is that you can be very prescriptive on the soil that goes into your beds, so in many ways you can create a raised bed with the perfect soil/compost/drainage ratio for your plants, whether you are growing vegetables or making a colourful display of bedding plants. You can improvise in what you make your bed out of, but these days there are a lot of raised bed kits available, which are simple and quick to assemble. One such example of a raised garden bed kit is shown below.

Building raised garden bed 1. In this example, boards are slotted into uprights that create the corners of the bed. Fixings are inserted through the uprights into the ends of the boards.
Slotting together sections of raised garden bed 2. Bed depth is built up by slotting further sections in between the uprights. Make sure that the bottom level boards are flush with the ground surface so that the soil is contained.

Raised garden bed tips

  • The above kit uses fixings. Others won’t and, instead, will be notched in some way so that sections simply slot together.
  • If you do decide to go down the ‘make your own’ route, remember that not all timber will be suitable. I’ve seen effective raised beds made out of scaffold planks for example, but if you go down the railway sleeper route, I always advise go ‘organic’, as you really don’t want to be using genuine ‘old’ sleepers bearing in mind what sort of potentially toxic treatments they may have been coated with (You’ll find plenty of internet debate on this subject – the above is just my opinion!).
  • Remember that although these beds are a fairly instant solution, you still need to fill them with soil/compost etc. So sit down with a piece of paper and do a bit of a budget before you decide to get twenty for next weekend!
  • There are many, many designs out there, and your local garden centre will no doubt stock plenty. As a rule you’ll find price is directly proportional to how ‘chunky’ the wood sections are, and therefore how long the bed is likely to last….but fear not as many suppliers offer guarantees against rot for at least 10 years.

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