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Spring is here, and it’s time to freshen up your outdoor landscape!
Planting in raised beds allows you amazing control over the health of the soil, drainage, and (especially for PNW residents) better protection against invasive plants. The height of your raised bed is entirely up to you as well, so if you or someone in your life has mobility concerns, raised beds are a great way to put the garden up to a comfortable height for them to enjoy.
One of the many benefits of creating a custom outdoor space is that you have complete control over the size, location, and design of every element. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the best place to put a garden bed is on level ground or a gentle slope, avoiding any low spots that will trap and hold water. With that being said, there’s likely no reason why you can’t create a bed that compensates for any of these problems. Every landscape is different, but if the topography of your property is holding you back, chances are there’s a great solution waiting to be found.
Measurements and materials
For a basic, 10’ x 5’ x 1’ bed, you will need:
3) 10’ x 2” x 12” pine or cedar boards (note: try to stay away from treated lumber if you’re planning on growing fruits or vegetables, as the chemicals can leech into the soil and ultimately the food you’ll be eating.)
8) right-angle brackets
16) ¾” wood screws
(Optional) 1) roll of 3’ x 50’ chicken wire/poultry netting
Kits are also available, in a range of sizes and materials. Most types of garden beds are the open-bottom variety that are placed directly on the ground. Some elevated raised garden beds are assembled on legs, which are great for small patios or decks and require even less bending or squatting to tend to the plants.
The only cutting required for this project is cutting one of your 10’ boards into 2 5’ boards. If you’re buying these from a home improvement or lumber store, chances are good they’ll be willing to cut it for you for minimal or no cost.
Connect the corners of the lumber with your right-angle brackets. In our opinion, the easiest way to do this is to screw a right-angle bracket into the top and bottom of your 5’ boards. You can then stand them upright at right angles to your 10’ boards and screw towards the ground for added stability.
If desired, you may add chicken wire/poultry netting to the bottom of your garden bed to help deter pests. If so, cut 2 10.5’ lengths of chicken wire and lay them down under your frame. You’ll have roughly 5-6” sticking out on all ends, which you can bend up or staple to the outside of the frame for added stability.
There are a variety of materials you can use to fill your new garden bed, but most experts agree that a layering method is best.
Fill your garden bed approx ⅓ full with dried branches, cardboard, leftover newspapers, etc to take up space, add good drainage, and eventually help fertilize your garden as it breaks down.
The next layer is mulch. This will be finer and less “chunky” material, such as straw, sawdust, lawn clippings, and more.
The final layer is the good stuff. This is what your plants will be starting out in as they expand their roots and start to grow. If you don’t have a nice pile of homemade compost to put on top, opt for good-quality organic garden soil.
- Bottom layer: Wood and branches, cardboard, newspaper, etc.
- Middle layer: Mulch, straw, wood chips/sawdust, lawn debris, etc.
- Top layer: High-quality garden soil, compost.
Favorite spring blooms
Now on to the fun part! (Just kidding, this whole project is fun) One of the absolute best parts of gardening is choosing what to plant. We’ve picked 3 flowers to plant this spring for some absolutely outstanding blooms to get you started with your new raised bed. The rest is up to you, enjoy!
Marigolds are a great annual, providing cheery pops of yellow and orange color that keep flowering all season long. As a bonus, they help deter pests from chomping on your more tender plantings.
Most people think of petunias as annual plants that need to be regrown each year, but with careful tending and a temperate winter, you can enjoy their pink, purple, red, white, and blue blooms for years to come.
Morning glories are a favorite of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, not just people. These trellis climbing plants come in an eye-popping range of colors and can grow up to 12 feet in a single season. (Note: keep the seeds away from kids and pets, as they can be toxic when eaten)
Whether you’re an avid do-it-yourself-er or you’d rather call in a professional, raised beds are a fantastic way to pamper your plants and give yourself a gorgeous new feature on your property that you and your family can enjoy for years to come.
For anyone interested in creating a more accessible space to garden in, we highly recommend checking out the book Accessible Gardening for People with Physical Disabilities: A Guide to Methods, Tools, and Plants by Janeen R Adil. And, as always, Newberg Landscaping Pros is here to help you make the most of your garden and landscape. Contact us today and see what we can accomplish together.