Raised beds are a popular way to grow vegetables or flowers if the soil is poor or you need some extra height.
Kids love them too, a little raised bed of their own is a great way to kick start a love of growing. But how can you make one and do they cost a fortune? Here’s how you can make a raised bed in just one weekend.
There are several ways to build a raised bed. You could buy a readymade trug on legs or buy a pre-assembled garden box.
The most cost-effective way is to buy treated sawn timber planks and wooden posts These can be as tall and wide as you’d like them. You’ll need a minimum of four posts and four timber planks for a simple rectangle or square bed.
A way to protect the wood from damp is important too or the raised bed won’t last long. Lining is available online or you can staple on empty compost bags or thick bin liners to protect the wood. Of course, you’ll need soil too!
How to Build A Raised Bed
Raised beds have an open base so worms and soil bacteria can work their way up. The sides simply hold soil in one heap.
Firstly, clear the ground. You won’t need to remove turf as the new soil will smother it, but it’s best to remove invasive weeds like dock or dandelion as a few feet of soil won’t stop these apocalypse-proof annoyances poking through.
Lay your pieces of wood out in the final design and hammer a post into the ground a 1/3 of its length into the soil. Then hammer in a second post at the far end of the plank. Hold the plank against your posts at ground level and use a spirit level to ensure it is flat.
If not, remove some of the soil beneath the panel.
Attach the first plank using screws. Make sure the post is inside the framework, and then work your way around until you’ve made four sides.
It’s a good idea to add another post every metre to prevent bowing once the soil is added. It’s not necessary if the bed is small though.
Use a staple gun to attach the waterproof lining to the inside of your wood, but be sure to leave the base open.
Then add soil leaving a few centimetres free at the top. If you want to paint the sides now is the time.
If you’re planting seeds you could staple netting or place trellis across the top to keep out cats and pigeons. For pest control attach a strip of slug repelling copper tape to the rim.
Kids might like to attach pinwheels and animal figures to keep their bed looking glam.
What to Grow in Your Raised Beds
Raised beds dry out faster than traditional borders so you will need to water them regularly, especially if you’re growing thirsty plants like marrows, courgettes or tomatoes.
Root veg grows exceptionally well in a raised bed because the new soil is crumbly and stone-free. Carrots are protected from the circling carrot fly by the wooden edges, and the extra warmth the soil gets means you can grow salad crops from February to Christmas.
Raised beds are addictive! You can make them in diamond shapes, long and thin, divided into checkerboard sections, or have one for herbs, cut flowers – the world is your oyster.