The Q&A Archives: Securing Boards for Raised Bed Garden

Question: My husband and I are planning on constructing a raised veg. bed for a garden. We have rocky, woods ground. What is the ideal dimentions of the boards and what method is used to secure the corners and joinings?

Answer: There are many methods of securing the boards, from resting them on the ground and using corner brackets to simply bracing them with posts or iron bars driven into the ground every few feet. Dimensions are also varied -- it is a good idea not to make the beds wider than you can reach across to the center in order to tend the plants (three or maybe four feet if you are tall), and if purchasing lumber the length might be determined on standard sizes such as 8 feet. Certainly thicker boards will last longer and larger dimensions will require sturdier fasteners or supports. Much of the construction phase is determined by what you have available and to some extent, esthetics. You can also consider using rocks or cinder blocks or simply piling the soil with a steep edge to minimize erosion and skipping the frame altogether. You will want to loosen or roughen the existing soil before adding the new raised bed soil on top of it. The depth of new soil will depend on how much fill you have and on how deep the existing soil can be worked. In some cases six inches is ample, in other cases ten or twelve or even sixteen inches for perennial veggies is better. The beauty of raised beds is their total flexibility! Enjoy your project!

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