Posted by Callum VP, on November 16, 2020.
There are many ways to create a raised bed in the garden, with some more elaborate than others. That also means you do not have to spend a fortune to make one, so even on a small budget you can find the perfect way to allow perennial plants to settle and mature. To help get you started, here are 5 ways you can create raised beds in your garden.
Raised ground bed
The most simple raised bed option available to all gardeners is to simply make one out of soil, built up to around 6-8 inches in height with a flat-topped mound. If you have a large area in the garden that needs planting but do not want to overspend on supporting frames, raised ground beds are the most economical method available. You can make them either by adding more soil to the existing ground to create the pile, or by excavating around 3-4 inches of soil from pathways between beds – whichever is more convenient for you.
Square foot raised beds
By dividing the growing area of crops into 1 foot per square sections you create the basis for an intensive vegetable growing garden. These raised beds give you greater control over the quality of the soil while stopping it from becoming compacted, with vegetable roots allowed to grow with more freedom. You can use a height of only 6-8 inches while still enjoying the benefits a raised bed will provide, such as water drainage. That lessens the chances of your vegetables drowning and can help form a more productive harvest right through the year.
Built-in raised beds
Not all raised beds have to be built in-ground. Depending on the amount of sun or shade needed by your plants you could always make one within a wood or stone-based enclosure. This can be a more portable option too, so you can move it anywhere you need depending on the current conditions. Tunnelling pests will also have a much harder time gaining access giving your plants more longevity. You can even turn a built-in raised bed into a garden feature, making it with sides long, deep and strong enough to bear weight and work as a bench.
There are a number of different ways to make herb spirals in the garden. Use brick, stone, wood or a pile of soil to create the desired effect, allowing you to get the most out of this popular permaculture method. A big reason so many use this style is because they take up less ground space, which creates more room elsewhere for you to plant additional crops. Having a herb spiral really forms a unique feature in the garden that looks amazing and works as a focal point for everything else to be situated around it. And while they are called ‘herb’ spirals, there is no limit to the types of plants you can use on this type of raised bed.
Sheet Metal Raised Beds
A great advantage any raised bed can offer is the chance to enjoy longer growth periods. This is due to the soil be raised and exposed to warmer temperatures during the spring time, sitting above the underground frost line. Use a sheet metal raised bed will ensure the soil is able to retain more ambient heat from the sun. You can also manipulate sheet metal into a greater variety of shapes to suit the dimensions of your garden and aesthetic preferences. Also, if you like to grow Mediterranean plants such as lavender and sage metal sheets will generate ample heat to allow them to really bloom.
What are the benefits of raised beds?
If you are undecided about creating a raised bed in your garden, here are some of the benefits building one can provide:
- Less tilling: Rather than having to till the soil so fertiliser can be added, you can instead place any new materials on top of a raised bed and it will do the work for you, with roots and worms pushing their way through.
- Less physical strain: Gardening puts a lot of strain on the back and knees with all the bending over, which can take its toll over time. Using a raised bed – especially those over 12” in height – can reduce the pressure on joints.
- Keeps out pests: If you use a tall garden box for a raised bed then you stand a better chance of keeping out pests – even slugs if copper flashing is used. And, if high enough, dogs won’t be able to urinate on plants either.
- Improved drainage: A raised bed of around 12” in height provides ample drainage and gives plants additional breathing room in areas that experience a lot of rain, allowing them to drain more efficiently to ensure a better crop.
- Longer growing seasons: With better drainage, you can plant earlier in raised beds due to the soil being drier in the spring and warming more quickly. This should allow a large percentage of plants to overwinter than perhaps was first expected.