Gardening in the ground is a lot of fun, but what if there was an easier way of growing plants and vegetables? There is, and this article will give a lot of great raised garden bed ideas. With the right ideas, a great garden bed can add value to a home both in produce to eat and appearance to the neighbors.
What Is a Raised Bed Garden?
A raised bed is usually four walls (often wooden) and dirt in the middle. It doesn’t have a bottom or a separation between the bed and the ground normally, but some raised beds are built on legs or in containers to add ease for the gardener. Not having a separation helps prevent compaction or erosion of the soil, and possibly allows a gardener to plant earlier or harvest later because water is drawn from the earth better and the soil stays warm due to being above ground.
Taller Makes It Better
From those who are looking to expand current garden space to those looking to help aching backs, raised beds can provide all sorts of benefits. Being higher than ground level and, if made well, sturdy enough to sit on helps those with physical problems or who may be growing older but still love to tend their gardens. Two other significant benefits of a taller garden are to reduce weed clutter and pest access.
With the walled sides, weeds and pests have a harder time gaining hold in the garden bed, making the gardener’s job of caring for the plants much more manageable. Most gardeners recommend making the bed at least six inches high to allow for adequate root growth if placed over dirt, but if placed in a container or anything not directly above the soil, the depth should be at least 10 to 12 inches to allow for healthy root growth.
The Best-Laid Plans
Laying out the beds requires planning. The beds need to be set up with the long sides of the beds facing south to prevent the taller plants from overshadowing the smaller plants. They should be in the sun for at least six hours per day depending on the type of plants that will be placed within them. The beds should be no wider than three feet also to prevent having the gardener having to reach too far in. Beds may be as long as the gardener would like but, as mentioned, should be no wider than three feet.
Decide whether one large bed or several small ones are more appropriate for the size of the space and the plants that will be grown there. Also, consider the purpose of the beds. Will it/they be for vegetable plants primarily or decoration/landscaping? Or a mix of both? These questions will help plan the right number of beds for the property.
Doing the Work
When constructing the bed, dig deeper than necessary, probably close to 16 inches deep. This is especially necessary if there haven’t been plants there before. Sometimes adding hardware cloth to the bed may be a good idea if there are pests such as gophers.
Other essential ideas for beds are to make them completely level (yes, using a level!), and to never step in them once they are finished to prevent compacting the soil too much. Always leave plenty of room on the paths between for walking, tending to the gardens and personal enjoyment.
Make sure to use the best soil that is affordable to fill the bed. This is an investment and will help produce the results that are desired for appearance and production. If gardening is to become a hobby, consider composting the family scraps to feed the garden and keep it healthy and growing well. Composting will produce beautiful plants and vegetables, creating a colorful look in the garden.
Raised Garden Bed Ideas From Scratch
Using wood leaves the garden bed design wide open because of the variety of shapes and sizes of beds that can be made from wood. Some great ideas to make it functional as well as beautiful include the following:
- Wheels added to a bed so it can move easily
- Different designs such as a star or circle
- Terraced beds within a small space
- Stand-alone beds that are off the ground to allow for gardening at waist height
Your design can be fun, creative and unique. Here are three raised garden bed ideas for different types of beds.
1. Make Wooden Garden Beds Fun
A few simple solutions include landscaping timbers, cedar or plain boards. A box is created with the wood to make the bed, dirt is added, and the bed is completed and ready for planting. Some gardeners add plastic sheeting inside the bed before the soil is added to help prevent the wood from rotting. This is an individual preference. As mentioned, raised beds can be as simple or as fancy as the builder desires, making them look clean and helping add value to the home and neighborhood.
One fun idea to make a raised bed includes using different types of wood to build the outside of the bed. Using old barn wood would make a very different-looking bed than using cedar, for example. The sides can be as high as desired, and then seats or other embellishments can go on the top. This makes the bed more accessible for someone who has a bad back, is growing older or may just like to sit and garden in a leisurely fashion.
Some people get very creative and put carvings with unique designs in the wood or paint it to match their houses. Stay away from pressure-treated lumber or railroad ties as they can leach dangerous chemicals into the soil, however. The beauty of natural wood is that it is easily replaced when it eventually must be. A very natural solution is to use hewn logs as the surround to the bed. They are natural, look beautiful next to the plants and are easily replaceable when they need to be.
2. Exciting Repurposed Raised Garden Bed Ideas
Other examples include repurposing everyday items such as milk crates that can allow plants to grow through the holes. These are a great way to grow taller gardens that may need to support vines or other tall plants. Allow the plants to grow up through the milk crates. Plants that would be well-suited for this include peas, beans, squash, and cucumbers.
Another idea includes using galvanized tubs with the bottoms cut out to match a yard that has farm décor. These can also be painted with fun designs or just left as-is to provide a unique garden that is enjoyable to use as well as easy to reach.
Bricks from an old patio can be repurposed to make the bed with an unusual, creative look that would match a brick house well. They can also be used for terracing raised beds, leaving a very clean look to a raised bed that the neighbors will envy.
A different type of raised garden bed ideas is to take an old dresser, line the drawers with plastic sheeting, and add dirt and plants. If the drawers are pulled out correctly, it looks like a tiered garden and can be very uncommon-looking in the right place, adding ambiance.
One very unusual idea is to use old gutters attached to the side of the garage. To use these, firmly affix the gutters to the side of the garage, fill with dirt and plant. This idea is perfect for someone with a small backyard or who wishes to maximize space. It also can be lovely with flowers spilling out of the gutters if the gutters are painted a pleasing or matching color.
3. Landscaping With a Raised Garden Bed Ideas
An exciting way to add interest to the house is to add raised beds into the landscaping using special containers, surrounds, or exotic plants within the surrounds. Building raised beds into hillsides can help a homeowner eliminate the need to mow the grass on a slight slope. They can call attention to a set of steps using lights amidst the plants and surround. Terracing a steeper hillside is also an option, and this can prevent erosion of the soil in addition to creating a safer environment for the homeowner.
Beautiful options can be designed including raised garden bed ideas around trees, houses, sheds or other buildings. Using naturally found materials such as rock outcroppings, bushes or loose rocks or stones both as accents or the surrounds for the raised beds can add value and provide an attractive background to highlight the property.
Building raised beds are all about proper planning, execution, and style. Knowing what is wanted helps the project run smoothly, and the result will be a great addition to the house. Before beginning, be sure to do the homework required, talk to experts and ask the right questions. Success depends on knowing all the correct details.
Raised beds will add value, excitement, and fun to the home, and if chosen, will also add an excellent food source and a hobby for the family. With the right raised garden bed ideas, a gardener will find success in creative planting endeavors.
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