Building raised beds is an excellent way to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers nearly anywhere you live.
And no matter what current soil conditions you might have.
That includes urban settings where concrete, asphalt or gravel cover the ground. Or in hard to grow places with rock-laden or hard-pan soil.
They can even be a perfect solution for rooftop gardening!
The Advantages Of Building Raised Beds
Beyond creating gardening areas from difficult spaces, there are a lot of additional advantages to growing in raised beds.
Raised beds cut down tremendously on upkeep and maintenance chores.
By being above ground, weeds and weed seeds find it more difficult to take root.
And, by being up and closer to the gardener, they can be tended to with less bending and kneeling.
Raised beds also help to minimize foot traffic and compaction to the root zones of plants. A big key to healthy and productive plants!
Building Raised Beds From Wood – Top Tips And Hints
Although you can create raised beds from nearly any material, building with wood is one of the easiest and least-costly options of all.
Even with minimal building skills and tools, you can create great looking raised beds from wood in a single afternoon.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you start building:
Selecting The Right Wood
If you will be growing any consumable vegetables or herbs, be sure to stay clear of treated lumber.
Treated lumber contains a long list of chemicals and toxins. All of which can easily leach into the soil, and into your plants and vegetables too.
In addition, painted or stained wood should not be used for the very same reason.
Thick Lumber Is The Best Choice
Selecting thicker lumber is a big key to success. Stay clear of wood that is less than 1″ thick.
It simply won’t hold up over time, no matter the species.
So what is the best choice of wood?
Although cedar and teak are both wonderful for their insect and anti-rotting properties, they can both be quite expensive.
Especially when purchased in thicker dimensions.
Believe it or not, pine is actually one of the best and most economical choices of all.
Traditional, untreated 2X construction-grade pine lumber is quite inexpensive. And surprisingly, it can hold up for many years.
If you are lucky enough to live near a sawmill, another great option is purchasing rough-sawn green lumber.
Green lumber is lumber that has not been kiln or air-dried. It is, as the name implies, fresh-cut.
It can usually be purchased at thicker dimensions, and at a significant discount from finished lumber. Green lumber holds up extremely well over time as it ages.
In addition, rough-sawn gives the wood a bit of additional protection as it sits out in the elements.
Green lumber is often used for fencing boards for this very reason.
When building raised beds, remember that good drainage is a big key to success!
If beds are built on top of an impermeable surface such as concrete or rock, be sure to create a few drainage holes on the bottom sides.
This will allow your beds to shed excess water during heavy rains. Without proper drainage, plants can easily become waterlogged.
If building on top of existing soil, it is always a good idea to put a few inches of rocks at the bottom to help drain away excess water.
Building Raised Beds From Wood – How High Do I Need To Build
So how high do raised beds need to be?
Most vegetables and herbs can grow successfully in soil that is 8 to 12 inches deep.
So providing at least 10″ inches of growing medium is a good starting point.
But beyond that, the maximum height is really up to the individual.
Obviously, the taller you build, the more materials to build and fill the raised beds will cost.
No matter how high you build, there are a few keys to building raised beds successfully.
For starters, corners need to be well secured. Soil is heavy, and will put a lot of pressure on the boards of raised beds.
Using an additional post in the corner can help keep the beds in line. 2 x 2 wood posts screwed to the inside of each corner work well.
There are also commercial available corner brackets that work well too. Product Link : 12″ Raised Bed Corner Brackets
Depending on the length of your raised beds, you may also want to drive few additional supports along the side as well.
When assembling your beds, always use screws and not nails. Nails can be pushed out too easily, resulting in bowing and failing beds.
And whatever you do – be sure to fill your raised beds with great soil! See : Making The Perfect Homemade Potting Soil
So perhaps this is the year you can try your hand at building and growing with a few raised beds!
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