Easy-to-Build Raised Bed Gardening Plans Using Reclaimed Lumber
Getting started in raised bed gardening is easy and offers a great many benefits to the gardener.
Raised beds are an excellent way to grow healthier plants in a smaller space with less time, effort and expense.
Photo By Terry Wild
Raised bed gardening is an easy way to add more efficiency and beauty to your garden areas with little more than some good old-fashioned elbow grease and a little lumber. There are a number of reasons to incorporate them into your yard, if you haven’t already. Here are some of my favorites:
Create a pleasing design in your yard by installing raised bed gardens that function as architectural elements, delineating zones within an overall landscape plan. They can serve as focal points, direct traffic flow, or define outdoor “rooms” for eating, relaxing or entertaining.
• Easily condition your growing soil through the addition of compost and other amendments so you are not limited to what may be poor quality soil in a given location.
• Set boundaries for plants that might otherwise take over with elevated garden bed edges. Our friends have a chocolate mint bush that has taken over vast swaths of their garden, so when we took some cuttings for our yard, we made sure to plant them in a raised bed where they won’t get out of control.
• Provide structure to which you can attach trellises, hoop houses and row covers, allowing you to attain a larger yield and extend the growing season.
• Work with comfort in beds that have been built to whatever height works for you. This is particularly useful for people with limited mobility.
• Eliminate soil compaction, which can reduce crop yields up to 50 percent. Water, air and roots all have difficulty moving through soil compressed by tractors, tillers or human feet, and gardeners can avoid the problem completely by creating elevated beds narrow enough to work from the sides.
• Achieve a higher density of plants. Because you don’t have to allow areas to walk between rows of crops, you can plant vegetables closer together in raised beds than in traditional ground beds, resulting in a larger harvest from a given area of land.
• Drain off excess moisture better than ordinary garden beds. This is another advantage that helps the plant roots to breathe. In areas that have saturated soil, such as Florida and many areas of the South, raised beds may be the only way you can grow many types of plants.
• Create pest barriers against slugs and snails with the bed walls. Weeds also are less likely to pop up in a soil that you’ve blended yourself from compost, manure and other ingredients.
Building raised bed gardens
There are a lot of ways to build raised beds. My favorite is to find a way to work with what I’ve got. In this case, I had a pile of Douglas fir boards that I salvaged when a neighbor removed a fence, and they were still in perfectly good shape. The major challenge of this project was working on the slope where we wanted to situate the beds: This made the process a little trickier, but it came out great in the end. This type of bed is a great way to start making raised beds — just grab some planks and something to serve as a corner post.
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