How to build your own raised bed

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Building a raised flower bed definitely has its benefits. Aside from looking superb, they provide the perfect container for growing herbs, veg, and a range of perennials. The design ensures that its contents are protected from rabbits, dogs, slugs and any other uninvited guests. The soil stays warmer for longer giving you a head start on growing season, and as a bonus, they can even prevent back strain.

Of course, you can purchase kits online, but why spend a fortune when you can make them yourself?

Raised beds can be as simple as a few planks of wood and some old cardboard, or as elaborate as varnished wooden boxes, polished and painted to perfection. The beauty of this project is that it’s entirely up to you. Beds can be made from logs, bricks, concrete blocks or even corrugated plastic sheets, but to keep it simple we’ll be using wooden planks.

What you’ll need

wooden-planks
Photo by Alexander Schimmeck
  • For making a standard-sized bed 4 x 8 feet long, you’ll need four wooden planks – 2 x 8 feet, and 2 x 4 feet long.
  • To secure the frame, we’ll be using reinforcing bars (rebars). They’re cheap, durable and can easily be found online and or in DIY stores. You’ll need 12 pieces, each 2 feet long.
  • You’ll need a rubber mallet for driving the rebars into the ground. You can use a hammer, but it’s much easier to control with a lightweight mallet – we’re only driving through soil here, not brick!
  • We’ll be using cardboard to line the bottom, but to minimise the presence of chemicals, it’s best to use unwaxed, brown cardboard, making sure to remove any sticky labels or sellotape.
  • To create the perfect growing conditions, your soil needs to be rich and full of nutrients. The best soil mix for raised beds is 60% topsoil, 30% compost and 10% potting soil. For a bed this size, you will need around one cubic yard.

Mark your location

empty-room
Photo by Curtis Adams 

Pick a location, making sure that the ground is level. Then, place the four wooden planks in a rectangle, with their inner corners touching.

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Secure the frame

drilling
Photo by Bidvine
  1. Prop up one of the long planks so that it’s standing on its side.
  2. Place two pieces of rebar about a foot away from each corner, along the outer length of the plank.
  3. With the plank on its edge, hammer both pieces of rebar a couple of inches into the ground.
  4. Prop up the two shorter planks, then add one rebar to the middle of each plank for temporary support.
  5. Prop up the other long plank, then check the alignment of your frame, and adjust the planks if necessary.
  6. Hammer two rebars along the long plank, to match the other.
  7. Then, hammer in another two rebars, evenly spaced, along each of the small planks.
  8. Remove the temporary supports.
  9. Add two more pieces of rebar to each long plank, so that each long side now has four evenly spaced rebars.
  10. Using the rubber mallet, hammer in all pieces of rebar until about 8 inches remain above-ground.

Finishing touches

  1. Once the frame is secure, line the base with cardboard.
  2. The cardboard needs to stay moist, so wet it thoroughly before adding soil.
  3. Finally fill your raised bed with soil mix, leaving a few inches free at the top for sowing!

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