Garden Structures forum: Raised Beds: what do you use for walls?

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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Sep 5, 2012 4:21 PM CST
I use concrete paving stones stood on end, leaning inward slightly against the soil. They are cheaper than wood and easier to build and re-arange.

I found these sizes for 90 cents to $1.25 each, and they let you build 8", 12" or 16" walls.
- - 12" x 12" x 1" thick
- - 16" x 8" x 3/4" thick


Thumb of 2012-09-05/RickCorey/0a58d0 Thumb of 2012-09-05/RickCorey/fa81a3 Thumb of 2012-09-05/RickCorey/d7807c


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Alyssum reseeds in the cracks most years.

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Young Bamboo July 2009 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 years old, July 2011

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This bed is as shallow and narrow as a box planter or container. It runs along my "Heather Path".
Lined with heavy plastic to keep roots out, it stays wetter than any other bed I have.

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These beds flank a sidewalk at the highest spot in my yard.

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These 'terraced' beds were my first attempts,
so they were ratty-looking some of the time

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[Last edited by RickCorey - Oct 29, 2014 5:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Garden Art Birds Dog Lover Cat Lover Region: Pacific Northwest Hummingbirder
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gg5
Feb 6, 2013 10:12 PM CST
Looks like you have a huge yard Rick, looks good! Thumbs up
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Feb 7, 2013 12:59 PM CST
If only! That shows both my yard and the neighbor's yard. When the prior renter moved out and an other moved in, I had to remove the long, thin, curving bed. Now it's muddy clay and struggling weeds.

(frown)

Sad
Name: Jewell
South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
Ferns Region: Pacific Northwest Cottage Gardener Hellebores Dragonflies Ponds
Permaculture
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Jewell
Jun 28, 2014 9:58 AM CST
Rick, i really like the way you have used the pavers, especially along the sidewalk. I use a variety of bricks, pavers, rocks, logs and whatever I can find. Some of the old perennial beds even have ancient rail road ties that were here when we moved in. With a sloping yard and years on the property it has always been what is cheapest, longest lived and available at the time. On one long term project I even purchased landscaping bricks. Almost all have been recycled over time to different areas depending on needs and my whimsical style.
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Am currently collecting more bricks to surround my next Huglekultur.

Thumb of 2014-06-28/Jewell/01dd44

[Last edited by Jewell - Jun 28, 2014 10:09 AM (+)]
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Name: Greg Colucci
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Sempervivums Sedums Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Garden Ideas: Level 1
Garden Art Birds Dog Lover Cat Lover Region: Pacific Northwest Hummingbirder
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gg5
Jun 28, 2014 4:24 PM CST
Very lovely Jewell!! Hurray! I tip my hat to you.
Plants bring me peace and calm, more of what we all need Smiling
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jun 30, 2014 12:34 PM CST
I love the variety of effects you created! Especially the lichen and moss on one and "Buddha on bricks" in another.

>> ... it has always been what is cheapest, longest lived and available at the time.

That's my philosophy exactly. If some railroad ties showed up, I would grab at them.

I need to go back over my beds and refresh all the tilt angles, then use my "aligning tools" (a mallet and a short length of 2x4). I use those to nudge each paving stone into better alignment with its neighbors. They look sloppy now, though they "do the job" very well.

I've never known why some stones develop a dark coating and others stay red. Some day I'm going to swap out the discolored stones and sand them or clean them up. Another 'some day" project is to find attractive lichens and moss, grind them up with buttermilk and yogurt, then paint the paving stones to create instant antiquity.

Well, my "garden procrastination disorder" is so advanced that "2-3 years" is what I think of as "instant".



Name: Jewell
South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
Ferns Region: Pacific Northwest Cottage Gardener Hellebores Dragonflies Ponds
Permaculture
Image
Jewell
Jun 30, 2014 2:11 PM CST
Thanks Greg!

Rick, in my yard I've collected moss (out of the lawn, out of gutters or wherever it's found) and just laid it on and between bricks in the fall, winter and spring as I am weeding. Eventually with the rain it takes. Of course I have the same criteria for "instant" as you. Still have one rain barrel waiting to be hooked up. Took more than a year to get the foundation bricks to set it on.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Jun 30, 2014 2:45 PM CST
"In the fullness of time".

Sort of like "manyana", but without that much urgency.

Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jul 22, 2014 10:41 PM CST
I use concrete in various forms. I gave up using wood as it rots, attracts termites & carpenter ants .... so concrete is my material of choice!

Cinder block raised bed that I painted blue and also painted the concrete pavers to match:

Thumb of 2014-07-23/beckygardener/25fc58

I use concrete wall blocks to create more raised beds:

Thumb of 2014-07-23/beckygardener/df3ff7

I like rocks for raised beds, but way too expensive to purchase here in flat FL. So I decided to use bags of concrete that I stacked (I did a little at a time) to make a "rock" raised bed:

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And if I need a shallow raised bed, I use concrete borders:

Thumb of 2014-07-23/beckygardener/cbd63a

It does require some muscle to lift some of these materials, but it's basically permanent once it's down! I love concrete! Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Jewell
South Puget Sound (Zone 7a)
Ferns Region: Pacific Northwest Cottage Gardener Hellebores Dragonflies Ponds
Permaculture
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Jewell
Jul 27, 2014 6:42 AM CST
Becky, I love your ideas. Everything looks great.
You made me rethink my edging for my next Huglekultur. What was your process when making your 'cement rocks'? That might be an option I want to try.
[Last edited by dave - Jul 27, 2014 6:52 AM (+)]
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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Jul 27, 2014 8:08 AM CST
Jewell - Thank you!

I recently submitted an article here on ATP, "Concrete Hardscaping for the Garden, by beckygardener" . Not sure when it will be published, but keep an eye out for it. I love concrete and have used it for hardscaping of my garden areas.

I am quoting this from my article concerning the concrete bags wall/border, so ....

"I came up with the idea of using bags of concrete as a border around an Oak tree. The paper peels off when it is wet (or over time). You do want to puncture the bags by making small slits in the bags to allow water/moisture to enter. The hardest part is making sure that the bags stay wet. You can lay old wet towels over them at night to let the moisture soak in so that the concrete hardens. I did this border in small phases over several months. I was concerned about the amount of lime leaching from the concrete into the ground soil (I didn't want to kill any of my plants or trees), so I took my time adding bags gradually. I soaked the bags with my garden hose repeatedly over the course of 2 days. (At times, I even worked around predicted rain.) It worked out well doing it that way! In hindsight, it would probably have been best to build such a concrete border, let it cure and leach out for a while, and THEN add the plants. Luckily, it didn't become a problem for me in this instance. The tree was large and established as was the lantana & rain lilies in that bed."

I also peeled back the paper bags later that day to kind of round the edges of the concrete (with my gloved hands) to make them look more like a rock instead of the impression of the bags! LOL!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
[Last edited by beckygardener - Jul 27, 2014 8:14 AM (+)]
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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Sep 13, 2014 9:17 AM CST
I forgot about this thread when my article about hardscaping was published. Here is the article link for anyone interested that hasn't already read it. Might give some folks some ideas:

http://garden.org/ideas/view/beckygardener/2002/Concrete-Har...
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
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Arico
Apr 14, 2015 5:03 PM CST
Personally I like my raised beds crisp & clean and well built. So either railway sleepers or some sort or brickwork. That way it's always straight and no seems/cracks

These are the ones we made; they also act as retainig walls.
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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Apr 14, 2015 5:28 PM CST
Arico - Those are beautiful!!! You should paint them, they would look awesome!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Image
Arico
Apr 14, 2015 5:46 PM CST
Nah Becky, propably not. Although I do like the modern look, painting a brick wall white makes me think of the wall one of my uncles had next to his terrace. Typical brick wall, painted white and then drawn/painted onto that Ariel and flounder from the little mermaid; and flaking/peeling away all over. I've had nightmares about white walls ever since.

I want to decorate them with stone like this:


Thumb of 2015-04-14/Arico/4ec290

Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Apr 14, 2015 7:00 PM CST
Oh! You aren't a fan of Ariel?!!! Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious!

That stone is going to look very, very nice! Wow! You'll have to take a photo and to share with all of us! I think that is going to look very classy and upscale with the stone! A terrific idea! Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Apr 15, 2015 3:01 PM CST
I think they already look great.

I've seen photos in magazines like "Better Homes and Gardens", but never thought a REAL person could have beds that pretty.

I'm curious about drainage: do they sit on soil that drains well enough that you need no drainage holes in the walls themselves? Do you ever have heavy rains?
Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Image
Arico
Apr 15, 2015 4:27 PM CST
@Becky: I am a HUGE fan :p but that was just overkill

@RickCorey: Wow, you just made my day mate, thanks :D
The soil we have is heavy clay. From the rescape so far (so digging out the beds and stairs etc) we already had about 30m³ of soil taken away in containers. What came out further down we just put in the half empty beds higher up. I was planning on replacing it with topsoil, but that's another 16 m³ of soil to dig out if my calculations are correct. Think I'll just dig a bit out and mix the remaining soil with sharp sand and lots of compost. We didn't add anything for drainage since the bottoms aren't completely closed with concrete, we just made the foundations for the walls. So the beds are in contact with the underground.

We do get alot of rain actually and it doesn't drain away as fast as I'd like. This past winter has been very mild in terms of temperature, but very wet indeed (our lawn suffered quite a bit). Summers usually have less rain, but then again more in a single downpour. Winter is the opposite.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Apr 16, 2015 2:55 PM CST
Arico said:...
The soil we have is heavy clay. From the rescape so far (so digging out the beds and stairs etc) we already had about 30m³ of soil taken away in containers. What came out further down we just put in the half empty beds higher up.
...
Think I'll just dig a bit out and mix the remaining soil with sharp sand and lots of compost. We didn't add anything for drainage since the bottoms aren't completely closed with concrete, we just made the foundations for the walls. So the beds are in contact with the underground.


That sounds a lot like my situation, but where you have tens of cubic meters, I have a few cubic yards or cubic meters. I also remove the worst clay and amend the rest with compost and sharp sand, grit, or chopped bark.

>> What came out further down we just put in the half empty beds higher up.

Did that mean your deep sub-soil drains better than the top layers of your soil? I keep digging deep in spots here and there in my yard, hoping to find some subsoil with very coarse sand or fine grit (grains in the 1-3 mm range). Except for where prior owners started shrubs, my entire soil profile is nearly pure, heavy clay.

>> We didn't add anything for drainage since the bottoms aren't completely closed with concrete,

That also sounds like your subsoil does drain at least a little. (real estate salesmen here call that the "perk test" for "percolation"). If water doesn't drain out of a fairly deep hole overnight, the soil doesn't "perk".

My clay doesn't "perk", so each of my raised beds has a "floor" that slopes consistently down to one edge or one corner. From that edge or corner, I make sure water can escape under the concrete paving-stone walls into a trench, that slopes down to a point lower than the floor of the bed.

Luckily, my front yard has a grade down to slope that leads away from my yard and into a large area where my runoff already winds up. My trenches just get it there faster.

My back yard has a drainage problem and a high "water table" most of the year. I know where a long, deep trench would do a lot of good, but that runs through a neighbor's yard. Some year, I hope!

My beds look better after I've gone around with a trenching spade, a short length of 2x4 lumber, and a heavy mallet. I re-lean the paving stones that make up walls, so they are tidy and even, and tap their footings back into alignment. But they are still nowhere near as neat and pretty as yours.

Someone said she used indoor paint plus a roller to paint her cinder-block wealls a dark sand color, which looked good in ehr yard. But she also said she watered down her indoor paint (with water) and used several layers of paint. "Watering paint" was a new idea to me! And using indoor paint outdoors seemed odd.

But that's what she said.
[Last edited by RickCorey - Mar 9, 2016 7:42 PM (+)]
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Name: Lee-Roy
Bilzen, Belgium (Zone 8a)
Irises Lilies Hostas Ferns Composter Region: Belgium
Image
Arico
Apr 16, 2015 5:37 PM CST
No Rick, it's all 100% pure clay as far as we went down; as you can see from the clumps in the last pics Smiling Also no 'high water table' since we live on a hill haha.

What I meant by 'we put it in the beds higher up' is we couldn't go anywhere with the soil that had to be dug out, so we 'stored' in there thinking we'd get rid of it later. 'Till this day I haven't bothered to clear it (nor have the budget) since I won't be planting them this year either. The top ones I did 'cause I couldn't resist when they were finished. The Pennisetum looks good although I think a few died because of the poor drainage; others have begun sprouting again last week.


[Last edited by Arico - Apr 16, 2015 5:41 PM (+)]
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