Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Materials to Make a Raised Bed

 Photo by: Sheryl Westleigh

Are you considering planting some plants in raised gardens this season? If you have poor soil, bad drainage, or you want something that is easier to care for, raised beds may be the solution to your problems. There are many types of raised beds. You can buy pre-fabricated ones, or you can make your own. Before making a decision, there are a few things to take under consideration before building your raised bed from just anything.

There are variety materials that you can use to construct a raised bed. You'll have to use something that is strong where the sides won't giveaway after you add the soil. You make your raised bed out of wood. The safest wood to use is raw lumber, but it is more expensive. Pressure treated and composite lumber have chemicals added to make the wood stronger so it lasts longer. If this raised bed is for vegetables, use the raw lumber so chemicals won't leach into the soil. The pressure treated and composite lumber will work for some flowerbeds, but sometimes the chemicals that were used to treat them will leak into the soil and kill the plants. If you find any old railroad ties, you can use those instead. Make sure they are old and not oozing black creosote because this too will kill the plants.

Plastic, Wagon Wheels, Cinder Blocks, Bricks

Plastic is an alternative material to use. Many raised beds that you buy for the strawberry plants are made of a tough, durable recycled plastic. I like to use old wagon wheels that have the spokes removed. Another idea, if you don't have much money is to use cinder blocks. They may not be the prettiest, but they are heavy and durable. You can fill the holes of the cinderblocks with soil and grow trailing plants inside to help soften the lines. Bricks and rocks mortared in place are other alternatives that you can use. You can even use straw bales for your raised bed. They will provide you with a nice ledge to sit on while you tend to your garden.
Bed Frame
I’ve also seen it where people have used actual old bed frames for their raised bed.  They remove the mattress and box spring and then place the frame in the location where they want the raised bed.  They make a wood frame or a brick frame to enclose the bottom portion of the bed where the legs and frame are. You’ll need something to hold in the soil.You can build it higher then the bed frame, or equal to as long as you have at least 12 inches wide.
You can use your imagination when constructing a raised bed.  Just make sure that the materials are safe to contain your plants and won't leach harmful chemicals into the soil. Make sure it is strong. Soil, especially wet soil pushing against the sides is quite heavy. You don't want all your hard work to go to waste from the sides collapsing.

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