Ask a Question forum: 5' raised bed... too large?

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Long Island, NY (Zone 7b)
Scott_R
Apr 12, 2017 6:09 AM CST
I'm setting up two raised beds for vegetables. In order to maximize available space, I'd made each 5x10'; both because that fit the space I have for them (just barely 12x10', giving me about 2' in between) and because 10' boards were the biggest I could get in my car, so I couldn't make them 4x12' using one continuos board run on the longer side. And perhaps I wasn't thinking things through and just bought the same 10' boards for all dimensions, cutting them in half for the shorter sides.

Almost after the fact, I'm reading advice not to make them more than 4' wide, for access to the plants in the middle.
Argh.
I have the individual sides all assembled: three levels high (21.75" total) connected by 2x4 vertical pieces, with black poly plastic lining the insides. I shlepped them out to the garden area, and was waiting for the delivery of the topsoil/compost mix before final assembly. (At that point I was going to put 3 sides together so I can just wheelbarrow most of the soil straight in before adding the 4th side.)

Cutting them down to 4' wide is, at this point, do-able, but not without some effort--de-stapling most of the plastic, removing the vertical 2x4s at each end of the short sections, cutting 6" from each end, sealing the ends, and reattaching the 2x4s, reattaching the plastic sheeting.

I'm 6' so I have some reach, and the beds are pretty high (making it easier to reach over). Is it really worth the effort to drop them down to 4' wide?
Southeast OK (Zone 7b)
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KarenHolt
Apr 12, 2017 6:21 AM CST
Why not plant a perennial in that space and surround it with annuals? It is what I am doing with one of my large raised beds.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Apr 12, 2017 6:23 AM CST
I don't have raised beds so I am a poor one to advise you, however, the width sounds workable for a tall person to me. The small 2' space between would bother me more.
Porkpal
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 12, 2017 9:12 AM CST
With the height of bed and your reach. Why bother. Shrug!
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Name: Meri Taylor
SD (Zone 4b)
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mnmat
Apr 12, 2017 9:21 AM CST
Hi Scott

I have almost the same problem as you. I'm using an old waterbed frame as a raised bed. Its 56" wide. Too wide for my reach. I put a thin strip of carpet down the middle as a working path. The carpet keeps the weeds out and gives me a place to kneel so I can reach the inside of the bed. You could also use bricks or boards but carpet is easier on the knees.
Meri
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 12, 2017 9:26 AM CST
I would definitely reduce the width to 4ft. if you can. It sure will be harder to do after the fact if you discover that weeding, planting and harvesting are a headache in the middle of the bed. One of the beauties of a raised bed is you NEVER have to step in the bed and compress the soil with your weight. Air in the soil can be pretty important.

Plus, as pork says above, you will then also have an extra foot of pathway width in between which really IS going to help things. I think a wheelbarrow would hardly fit down a 2ft. wide path.
Elaine

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[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - Apr 12, 2017 9:28 AM (+)]
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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
May 19, 2017 4:10 PM CST
porkpal said:the width sounds workable for a tall person to me. The small 2' space between would bother me more.

I've done 5 ft wide beds, it's no big dealio, if they aren't too long... Mine always were...
The most important thing to consider though, is the width of the garden cart, wheelbarrow, wagon, whatever... Also, whether anyone else will be out there.
2 feet wide pathway is simply not going to work.

Name: Deb
(Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Fruit Growers Ferns Dragonflies
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Bonehead
May 19, 2017 4:18 PM CST
I have 2' paths throughout my herb garden, works fine for me. I like the suggestion to leave it as is, if you find the middle is less accessible, just plant some perennials there - asparagus? My paths are grass and I bought a baby lawnmower with a 12" cutting swatch, two swipes around the herbs and I'm done.
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22
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ctcarol
May 19, 2017 4:42 PM CST
What a lovely herb garden, Deb! How hard is it to edge your paths?
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
May 19, 2017 4:52 PM CST
What a pretty garden, Deb!
Porkpal
Name: Deb
(Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Fruit Growers Ferns Dragonflies
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Birds Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Bonehead
May 19, 2017 5:11 PM CST
I edge them once in the early spring with a square shovel and string lines - I find I have to dig out a good 2-3" of sod to keep the beds from just filling in with grass. Then, during the summer I just edge them with the weedwacker before or after mowing. I treated myself to a really lightweight battery wacker that has drop down wheels for edging. And a 12" swath lightweight battery mower. Both made by Worx. Great for old folks like myself who no longer want to wrestle with heavy noisy gas tools. (Wimp)

https://www.worx.com
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
May 19, 2017 5:15 PM CST
Gotcha! All of my garden (and other) tools are electric. I worked with the gas powered ones for years, but that was then...this is now.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
May 19, 2017 5:47 PM CST
My first raised bed garden consisted of beds 3 feet by 5 feet because I used 8 foot lumber. I failed to consider the width of the pathways between beds. Two feet is not enough (in my experience and with my wide butt) as the plants will most likely exceed the perimeter of the bed and, as others have mentioned, garden carts/wheel barrows, etc. need to fit.

In my current garden I make my beds 4 feet wide by however long I can afford - 8. 10, 12 feet. I'm only 5'7" (and shrinking with age *Blush* ) but the 4 feet is just fine for my needs. Since you are tall and are if you are the only person working the garden, you can probably get by with the 5 foot width. Thumbs up I would advise making the paths wider if you still have time before the soil arrives. Thumbs up

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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
May 19, 2017 6:15 PM CST
I agree with the above! I thought my shist paths were plenty wide until I had to have a tree removed. The stump grinder had to tear apart the raised beds , and broke a lot of stone to get to the tree stump. It was all repairable, but a lot of work. I would make paths at least 3' wide if I had it to do over.

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