How to Plan Raised Garden Beds



Spring is just around the corner and one of the things I’ve been wanting to add to our backyard this year is a raised garden bed. Or maybe some 😉 I’m still a newbie to the world of gardening so I wanted to make sure I did my research before jumping into building and planting them. If you want to do the same this year then I hope this post helps you start your garden bed journey with confidence!

The breadth of my gardening really started last year when we built a Grade Two Herbal Cultivator and I was instantly hooked. I love to get out on the deck and chop up herbs to use in our meals. So are the kids! They loved watching them grow and we even planted our first tomato! I know they will enjoy this larger bed as much as I do.

SQUARE FOOT GARDENING

This is one method I keep bringing up when I reach out to my instagram followers for tips. Square foot gardening (SFG) is a type of raised bed gardening where you have a raised box divided into squares. With the square foot gardening method, you plant in 4×4 foot blocks instead of traditional rows. In each square, you grow a different vegetable. It is said to save time, money, watering and space.

If you want to look further into the Square Foot Gardening Method, there are books and courses to guide you through it.

HUGE CULTURE GARDEN

This is another method that was brought up several times. Hugelculture is a technique of bed gardening in which the gardener layers soil, rotted wood, and other organic matter to form a mound-like garden bed. The layer of organic matter creates excellent water retention which in turn requires minimal watering.

It comes from the German word for “hill culture” or “mound culture”.

One drawback it seems to have is that you need to let your garden sit for several months for the organic matter to decompose. If time is not on your side, this may not be the best method for you!

Read more about the Hugelkultur Gardening Method.

LASAGNA GARDENING METHOD

The Lasagna method has a layering method similar to Hugelkultur but varies in other ways. “This is the process by which you create the environment for your garden to do most of the work of breaking down and adding to it yourself. By alternating layers of different organic matter, you can have new flower beds, plants, and the like that will care for themselves year-round with little maintenance needed..”

You start with a layer of cardboard that will cover all the weeds. It won’t completely get rid of them, but it will really help. After the cardboard, you start layering elements like peat moss, wood chips, pine needles, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and compost.

Once your layers are complete, you fill them with soil and plant your seeds. Once they start to germinate, you can add mulch which will help fight weeds and conserve water.

Read more about the Lasagna Gardening Method.

SIZE IS ESTIMATED

The size of your bed can make or break it. It’s important to think about this design element before you start building it, or if you want to buy a finished one. The recommended width is around 3′-4′. You don’t want them to be any wider because you won’t be able to reach what’s in the middle.

For height, you want to get to about 3′ of height. The lower they are, the risk of creatures getting into them, and also the harder it will be for you to bend over all the time. As for length, it depends on your space but the sweet spot seems to be somewhere between 6′-8′.

BUILDING MATERIAL

It is also very important to the success or failure of your garden bed. If you are planning to make your own bed, then pay attention to this section!

Cedar is a great choice for wood because it is naturally weather resistant. This is a great option but cedar can also be a little pricey. One solution, is to use cedar picket fences. They sell for a fraction of the price and can usually be found at most home improvement stores.

You want to be sure to stay away from pressure treated wood because the chemicals can leak into your soil and into what you plant. ugh!

Even though cedar is naturally weather resistant, it is still a good idea to seal it. Garden Seal is non-toxic and environmentally friendly and will help protect your wood longer.

If you live in an area with intense weather, you can also build a garden bed out of cement blocks with bricks on top. This will give you a solid foundation that is sure to stand up to the elements.

There are also a number of other metal and aluminum garden beds that you can buy. Vego Garden is one of them and they are actually really cute and come in all kinds of colors!

PLAN YOUR PLANTING

Another important step is planning exactly what you will plant in your garden bed. The first thing to think about is what do you like to eat? If you like lots of salads, plant tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, radishes, etc. If you use lots of herbs in your diet, grow herbs. You don’t want your gift to go to waste!

Another fun idea is a pizza garden. If you like making homemade pizza, use one of your garden beds for tomatoes, basil, parsley, oregano, and thyme.

This is where Square Foot Gardening can come in handy as each square will get its own seeds. You only want to pay attention to vegetables that have deeper root systems and those that grow vertically and may need additional support with trellis or poles.

I found this post to have a lot of helpful information about mapping your garden beds.

IRRIGATION/SPRINKLER SYSTEM

This is definitely one of the top recommendations because your raised garden beds will need lots of watering! You can totally water yourself but try and keep to a consistent schedule and remember on hot days, watering in the morning and/or evening is best!

One of the best types of irrigation systems that has come up the most in my research is the Drip Irrigation System. They will save you water and time, but will also ensure your plants get the right amount of water.

If you are feeling ambitious you can build a DIY Drip Irrigation System or you can buy one.

INSPIRATION RAISED GARDEN BED

Now that we’ve covered all the details to get you started, I want to share some inspiration for Raised Garden Beds. Whether you want to buy one or make your own, I hope it will get you excited about starting your own little garden!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel overwhelmed to start this journey. But like anything, you just have to do it beginning. Our first park may not be the best but we will continue to learn as we go and I can’t wait to get more knowledgeable along the way.

The kids have been so excited to help me plan our garden bed and I’m already imagining all the magical memories we’ll make together!

Look out for Raised Garden Bed Tutorials coming soon!

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