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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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.