The Basics of Raised Bed Gardening

Gardening is a fun, relaxing, and rewarding experience, but it’s not always easy. One of the most difficult parts of gardening is bending over to tend to your plants. Not everyone has the physical ability to do this and it makes gardening for them nearly impossible, but there is a solution to this problem. Raised bed gardening is designed to make growing your own plants possible for everyone. The raised bed elevates the garden to an appropriate height, eliminating the need for anyone to bend over. It is growing in popularity in nursing homes, hospitals, and schools. Raised bed gardening is also a good way to keep pesky burrowing pets out of your garden. With an enclosed bottom, your plants roots stay safe from harm. 

Starting a raised bed garden is easy. You can purchase pre-made beds from specialty companies, purchase a raised bed kit, or make it yourself. The materials to make your own can be purchased at your local hardware store or made from recycled materials. Here are the steps to make a standard wooden raised bed: 

  1. Select a location. Make sure you have enough space to make your garden as large as you would like. You also want to choose a location that is easily accessible to water and has adequate sunlight. When you have decided on your space, position where you would like the box and dig holes for the corner posts. These posts can be a few inches into the soil to make it more permanent or just sit on the surface if you would like for it to be mobile. 
  2. Preparing your wooden posts. You will need four 4”x4” pieces of lumber for your posts. Cut them to the desired height of your bed. Raised beds can be as tall or short as you would like them. Keep in mind when deciding your width, a person’s reach is about 2 feet.
  3. Cut the side walls. You will use 2”x4”, 2”x6”, or 2”x8” boards, depending on what height you would like, to create these walls. Cut these boards for the two long sides, equal to the distance from the far edge of one corner post to the far edge of the other. Cut the short end boards to be equal to the distance between the far edges of the posts, plus the ends of the long side boards.
  4. Screw the boards into place. You will need to screw wood screws through the boards directly into the posts. This will hold all of the sides together and keep all of the soil properly contained. 
  5. Place a cloth barrier. You can use landscape fabric to line the bottom of the bed to prevent pests from entering the garden from underneath. This also prevents soil from leaking from the box. To further your pest control, you may even want to consider netting over your raised bed.
  6. Add soil. Fill the box with your desired soil about two inches from the top. A huge advantage of having a raised bed gardening is having control over the soil your plants are in. It’s also easy to add any amendments you need/want to the soil.
  7. Add plants. Fill your garden with fruits, vegetables, herbs, or any other plant you would like to grow. Have fun with your plants and enjoy watching them grow. Consider using a raised bed to start your fall gardening this year!

Raised bed gardening is a fun and simple project that you can have to enjoy in your very own backyard. From planning the location and materials for your box to choosing and caring for your plants, it’s an exciting and rewarding experience. 

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