The Q&A Archives: Raised Bed On Cement

Question: I live in the Buffalo, NY area, zone 6. My back yard faces south and is basically a cement patio around an inground pool. There is no grass or dirt available to garden in. The cement patio is surrounded by the house, a covered patio and a 6 foot fence on two sides. I would like to build permanent raised garden beds on top of the cement, where I could plant perennials that would live from year to year. Is this possible to do on cement? If so, how deep should the beds be? The yard gets very hot in the summer. In the winter, a lot of the wind is blocked by the fences.

Answer: Based on oyur description it sounds like you may have a very warm microclimate, both winter and summer. Ideally you would make the beds about two and a half feet high or deep and just as important rather wide. The width is important to help moderate the soil temperature in both summer and winter -- plant roots are not as cold hardy as their tops are. I think you should be able to do it, but begin by experimenting with different plants to see how they do. Also take care with your soil mix to make sure that it drains well yet holds moisture; adding ample organic matter at the start and regularly thereafter should help. My main concern would be drainage -- be sure you can direct the runoff away from the pool. Good luck with your raised beds!

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