Raised Gardens - Knowledgebase Question

San Jose, CA
Avatar for glhawk
Question by glhawk
August 10, 1998
My wife would like to have a raised garden in our new back yard, but the only problem is that I don't know how to build one. Any suggestions?

Answer from NGA
August 10, 1998
Gardening in raised beds offers some distinct advantages; soil drains exceptionally well, warms up sooner in the spring, and you have some control over the quality of soil in your garden beds. Building a raised bed can be as easy or as complicated as you choose. First, find a site that receives full sunshine all day long if you plan to grow veggies or flowers used for cutting. Mark the site out and decide how much soil you'll need. Depending upon whether you'll be growing tender annuals and perennials, or woody perennials, plan on a depth of soil somewhere between 12 and 24 inches (to accommodate root mass). Check locally for a good source of a 3-way mix. Recipes vary, but the topsoil should contain one part sand, one part compost, and one part garden soil. Steer away from mixes with sawdust as the organic content. Then comes the hard part - you can simply dump the soil in the area you've marked out for the bed and pile it up to the correct height, gradually sloping the sides to prevent too much of the soil from eroding, or you can build a form out of wood to help contain the soil. There are many kinds of outdoor timbers available, or you can use redwood or cedar. If you choose treated wood you may want to line the sides prior to adding soil (to prevent leaching of the chemicals into the soil of your garden). Or, you can avoid growing root crops close to the timbers. Again, just a precaution, but peace of mind is worth the extra effort. There's nothing complicated about growing plants in raised beds, and the plants aren't particular about how the finished product looks - they're just interested in adequate sunshine, water and nutrition. Good luck with your project!

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