4 Raised Gardens You Can Make in an Afternoon

Give your veggies a leg up by growing them in raised gardens.

This week Made+Remade is helping you grow your Best Vegetable Garden Ever! We'll tell you everything you need to know to create a blue-ribbon vegetable garden whether you live in a condo or a colonial.

Plastic Raised Beds

Bright Blue Raised Beds

Bright blue raised beds add color to the garden, no matter the season. Made from UV stable polypropylene, the bed forms measure 10 inches deep—plenty of depth for growing vegetables.

Photo by: Gardener’s Supply Co. at Gardeners.com

Gardener’s Supply Co. at Gardeners.com

Raised beds change everything when it comes to gardening. They can fit anywhere, even on a patio or driveway.

This plastic frame raised garden snaps together in less than 20 minutes—without any tools—and the cheery blue hue adds color year-round to any landscape. Raised garden beds drain better and warm up faster in spring, which means you can plant sooner. They also allow you to customize the soil inside, and that means you can grow bumper crops of vegetables—no matter how bad your native soil is. Learn about other raised beds you can make in an afternoon or less.

Garlic Growing In Raised Bed

Mound Soil For A Raised Bed

The easiest and most inexpensive way to create a raised bed is by mounding soil. Aim for soil piles that are 12 inches tall at most. Cover soil with mulch to slow water loss through evaporation.

Photo by: Julie Martens Forney

Julie Martens Forney

Bring on the Soil

The easiest type of raised bed to make is mounded soil. Start with a mix of topsoil and compost, and pile it 4 to 6 inches high. (For a taller raised garden, you need a framework.) Be sure to mulch mounded soil beds to slow water evaporation and help suppress weeds. Mounded soil often needs an annual hoeing along the edges to shape and refresh bed edges.

Raised Bed Styles

Wattle Fence And Lumber Raised Beds

Get creative with your raised bed style by weaving shrub and tree trimmings to make a wattle raised bed. Or aim for easier construction with a lumber raised bed.

Photo by: Julie Martens Forney

Julie Martens Forney

Create a Frame

Another option is containing your raised bed garden in a framework. Go the upcycle route, using shrub and tree trimmings to weave a wattle bed edge. The informal look goes great with vegetables and might even help discourage rabbits. With a wattle look, mound soil just a few inches and the wattle can serve as a fence of sorts. To mound soil higher, line the wattle with burlap or landscape fabric.

Raised Bed With Leaf Lettuce And Rosemary

Raised Bed Corner

The hardest part of building raised beds from lumber is getting corners square. Using a powder coated aluminum raised bed corner takes the guesswork out of building trim corners.

Photo by: Gardener’s Supply Co. at Gardeners.com

Gardener’s Supply Co. at Gardeners.com

A lumber framework gives a raised garden a more formal feel. Work with lumber sizes to make bed assembly easy. For instance, if you want a bed that’s 4 feet square and 12 inches deep, pick up 8-foot 2x12 boards. Have the boards cut to 4-foot sections at the store, if need be. Cedar is rot- and insect-resistant, but pricey. To build a budget-friendly cedar bed, use dog-eared fence posts.

With any raised bed frame, getting corners square can be tricky for weekend carpenters. Look for durable, long-lasting raised bed corners to take all the guesswork out of building raised garden beds. Other tricks for raised bed construction:

Drip Irrigation Watering In Raised Beds

Drip Irrigation

Simple wooden raised beds assemble quickly, especially when you have lumber cut to size at the lumberyard. Install a drip irrigation system as soon as you fill beds with soil.

Photo by: Garden Drip System by Thombo

Garden Drip System by Thombo

  • Use galvanized or stainless screws to put things together. Deck screws work well.
  • Add stakes at each corner and along the sides to help the bed stay solid once the weight of soil is in place. This is especially vital with raised beds over 3 feet long.
  • Line the bottom with hardware cloth to keep critters like moles or shrews out.
  • Keep the width narrow—just wide enough that you can reach the center from all sides. A benefit of raised beds is that you never step on soil and compress it, which creates a friendly root environment.
  • Incorporate drip irrigation after filling the bed with soil. Because raised beds drain well, watering vegetables is vital, especially with deep beds.
Raised Bed Grow Bag

Giant Grow Bag

Grow bags offer a simple raised bed set up that even a child can assemble. The double layer fabric is water and air permeable, creating a well-aerated soil that promotes root growth.

Photo by: Gardener’s Supply Co. at Gardeners.com

Gardener’s Supply Co. at Gardeners.com

Break Out of the Box

Raised bed frames bring a sense of permanence to the landscape, and one way to skip that commitment is to use grow bag raised gardens. Grow bags come in a variety of sizes and can grow any vegetable, from corn and pole beans, to carrots and tomatoes. Bags are permeable, letting water and air penetrate, which means plant roots can breathe. Look for bags that are BPA-free polypropylene.

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