Raised beds can correct almost any issue that you have with your native soil whether it be too sandy, too much clay or full of rocks. They are particularly popular for growing vegetables where the loose soil makes growing carrots and potatoes a breeze.
The basic construction of a raised bed is simple: place 4 boards in a square or rectangle and fill with good soil mix. The DIY part is fixing the corners together and that is where most of the differences lay.
For a store bought raised bed kit, the brackets to fix the corners are included along with any screws that you may need. Materials for the boards varies from natural cedar or redwood to composite materials. All the materials should be weather proof and give you lots of years of growing. The downside to most raised beds kits is the depth of the bed (sometimes only 4 inches) and the lack of options for larger beds. Some hardware does allow you to build one bed on the other giving an 8-inch depth which is useful. The kits are easy and fast to assemble so you could have your raised bed, including soil and plants, installed in just a couple of hours.
For those who want to have a more extensive garden, you should consider building your own raised bed using lumber from your local merchant. You will still want to limit the width of the bed to 4-feet as this lets you weed the bed without treading on the soil. The length of the beds are up to you – 8, 10 or even 12-feet are all possible lengths and with no joints in the middle, they have no weak areas. You can also decide the best depth for your plants – 8 or 10 inch planks are common.
The options for fastening the corners include:
- Metal brackets that are fastened with wood screws, or
- Wooden ‘corner’ units that allow the planks of wood to be inserted
With smaller beds you will be able to fill them with bagged gardening soil. Any soil, no matter how compacted, can be improved by the addition of compost or other organic matter. For larger beds you may want to contact a bulk supplier of compost to fill them. These typically deliver by the yard.
by Kate Copsey, Garden writer and author