Creating a Raised Bed Garden

If the soil in your yard is primarily clay and you’re frustrated by poor drainage then a raised bed may be your answer. I am sure you know how frustrating it is to have a yard that just won’t cooperate when you’re trying to have a garden that requires good water drainage. Some plants can handle excess water and in fact love being in an area that retains moisture well. However, many plants don’t cope as well with poor draining soil. Knowing the drainage requirements for the plants you buy and want to plant in your garden is a part of good gardening. And knowing the type of soil you have and how well it drains is the other half of that equation. You need to make sure they don’t conflict with each other if you want your flowers to bloom lushly.

Creating a Raised Bed GardenTest your soil for drainage. In order to test how good the drainage is where you plan or have a garden, dig a hole approximately ten inches deep and fill it with water. Come back in a day when all the water has disappeared and fill it back up again. If the water isn’t gone in 10 hours, your soil has a low saturation point. This is unacceptable for almost any plant, and you are going to have to do something to remedy it if you want your plants to survive.

There are different ways of trying to improve drainage but one of the best and easiest ways is to create a raised bed. This involves creating a border for containing the bed, and adding enough soil and compost to it to raise it above the rest of the yard by at least 5 to 10 inches. You’ll be amazed at how much your water drainage will be improved by this small modification.

Creating a Raised Bed GardenIf you want to create your raised garden in a non grassy area, it is a lot lest work. First you need to find some sort of border to retain the dirt. I’ve found that nothing works quite as well as a few four by fours though mini ties work just as well. After you’ve created the border, you need to fill it with the proper amount of soil and manure. Depending on how quickly you plan to start planting, you will have to adjust the ratio to allow for the manure to break down a bit so it doesn’t burn the roots of your plants.

On the other hand if you’re trying to install a raised bed over an area where sod already exists, you will have a little more difficult time. You will need to cut the sod around the perimeter of the future garden, and dig up and flip the sod over under the whole bed. This may sound simple, but you will need a sharp edge spade or flat shovel to slice the edges and get under the sod to flip it over. It is best to add a layer of straw over the sod you have turned upside down to discourage the grass from growing back. After the layer of straw, simply add all the soil and manure to fill the raised bed up as in the last example.

Creating a Raised Bed GardenPlanting your plants is essentially the same process as planting any other area. Just be sure that the raised bed is high enough so the roots don’t extend down into the original soil. The whole point of creating the raised bed is to keep the roots out of the soil which saturates easily. Having deep roots that extend that far completely destroys the point.

After you have planted your new bed, you’ll notice almost immediately the improvement in your plants. The raised bed facilitates better drainage and root development. It also helps that the soil is high in nutrients due to the added manure and or compost. All of these things added together make for an ideal environment for almost any plant to grow.

So don’t be intimidated by the thought of adjusting the level of your yard. It is a simple process as I’m sure you’ve realized, and the long term results are worth every bit of work.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, February 4th, 2010 at 11:19 pm and is filed under Ideas. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

29 Responses to “Creating a Raised Bed Garden”

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