If you have poor soil or just can't find the right place for a vegetable or flower garden, a raised garden bed may be just what you need. Creating a raised garden bed is an easy DIY project if you are handy or a local handyman
can install one for you in no time at all. Once completed, your raised garden bed will require little or no maintenance and make cultivating your plants easy. Before you begin, though, there are some important things you need to know.
How to Build a Raised Garden Bed
Timber is the ideal building material for raised garden beds, providing them with natural drainage while at the same time offering enough support for the soil inside. However, the type of timber you choose is very important. Treated timber is not generally advised because the chemicals used to treat the timber may leech out and harm the soil. Also to be avoided are old creosote soaked railway ties. The best timbers to use are those that are naturally pest and rot resistant, such as Western red cedar. Many nurseries
use raised garden beds, so you may want to ask a local nursery what they use. Your local timber supplier
, too, will know which timbers are best for outdoor use.
The width and thickness of the timber boards you use will depend on the area and height of your garden bed. The ideal dimensions of a raised garden bed for vegetables is 90cm wide by 1.8m long by about 45-60cm high. This allows you to easily reach all of the plants in your garden without bending over too much as well as being deep enough for the plants to take root in the soil. For this, it's best to stack rough sawn 6X2 (150mmX50mm) planks for your bed surround. You can leave the top uncapped, but timber capping gives you a place rest your garden tools and sit down while you work.
Your raised garden bed is only going to be as good as the soil you put in it, so start with good, rich soil. You may also want to install a drip or below-surface irrigation system
. If you are going to have a row of several garden beds, they can be linked together into one irrigation system. A basic system will do the job, but a professional with experience in installing these systems can install a fool-proof system complete with a self-timer and other automated devices. Not only will this ensure your garden always gets the perfect amount of water, it will also help conserve this precious resource.
Once you have created your raised garden bed and used it for a season, you will discover how much easier it makes growing and how much better your results can be. Maintaining it, too, is very easy. Because it is in a contained environment, your garden will need very little weeding and virtually the only thing you will need to do to ready it for the next season will be to mix compost or manure into the top layer of the soil. A layer of mulch on top of that will improve water retention and keep weeds at bay. After that, it's just a matter of tending to your garden occasionally and watching it grow.