Gardening with Raised Beds - Knowledgebase Question

rockford, MN
Avatar for metweten
Question by metweten
March 1, 1998
If I am going to build a raised veggie garden an a slightly sloped hill, what is the correct depth to make it? Lumber comes 8" wide -- is this wide enough?

Answer from NGA
March 1, 1998
It really depends on a few factors. First of all, why are you building a raised bed? If it's for ease of working in the garden, so you don't need to bend down so far, then you'll probably want to make it higher than 8". If it is because your soil is poor and you want to bring in topsoil, then 8" deep should be OK for most veggies; if you grow root veggies like carrots, either choose short varieties or make those beds a little deeper. Also, if you are building right onto the existing grass sod, you'll want them deeper, while if you are tilling the entire area, then they can be shallower.

Since you are on a hillside, you might make the uphill side 8", and add a board on the downhill side. Or, you could make a low bed withthe downhill side 8", and the uphill just a few inches. Just try to make the surface of the bed level, so all the water won't drain off quickly.

Just a note: if you are using regular lumber, like pine, then the bed won't last too long--after a few years any wood in contact with the soil will rot and you'll have to replace it. On the other hand, there is controversy over whether it is safe to used pressure treated wood in food gardens, so I, personally, avoid using it. Other optionsare rot-resistant woods like cedar, stone or brick, or recycled plastic "lumber".

Good Luck!

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