Gardening 101 – Raised Beds

Raised garden beds are, in my opinion, a gardeners best friend.

Benefits of raised beds:

  • Allows the gardener to use the best soil possible.
  • Allows for a garden to be planted on an incline.
  • Keeps soil for eroding.
  • Keeps soil from compacting.
  • Allows for nice neat paths between beds.
  • Provides better drainage then conventional row gardens.
  • The sides can even be used as a bench to sit on while planting, weeding, or harvesting crops.
What materials can be used to make garden beds:
  • Natural stone
  • Brick
  • Concrete blocks
  • Composite wood
  • Wood
  • Bales of hay
The big debate is whether or not a person can use Pressure Treated Lumber to make raised beds.  PTL sold in lumber stores is no longer treated with arsenic, which is what raised the red flag.  It is now treated with copper compounds and/or fungicides.  This treated lumber is considered by most to be fine for use in the garden.  However, the USDA certified organic producers are not allowed to use pressure treated wood of any kind in their beds.  So whether or not to use PTL is still a hot topic up for much debate.  I will tell you that I have used PTL in all my raised beds and do not lose sleep over it.
Steps to making a raised bed garden:
1.  Select you site.  Pick a site that gets at least 6 to 8 of sunlight.

Select your site.

2.  Decide your lay out.  Make sure you have at least 24″ for all paths.  I used 32″ so I could easily get my wheelbarrow in and out.

Decide on the layout.

3.  Build boxes.  Boxes should be no more then 4′ wide.  This allows you to reach the center of the bed from either side.

Build boxes.

4.  Level beds.  This is important to ensure neither runoff nor puddling of water becomes a problem.

Level beds.

5.  Prep the boxes.  Either remove sod or to make life easier lay newspaper or cardboard down in bottom of beds.  If you are impatient like me and plan on planting right away, it is best to remove sod.   This will allow more room for roots to grow.  If you live in an area where nematodes are a problem, lay landscape fabric down before filling the box.  If you are going to do this make sure your boxes are at least 12″ deep to give roots adequate room.

Prep beds by either removing sod or laying newspaper or cardboard down in bottom of beds.

6.  Fill boxes with soil.  Hopefully you have some compost ready to put in beds.  If not, fill with the best organic soil your pocket book will allow for.

Fill boxes.

7.  Let the fun begin.  Start planting your garden.

Garden is ready to plant.


Here are just a few tips from experiences I have had with raised beds.

  • Make the short length of your trellis beds 2′ wide not 1′.  The reason for this is in the summer time they heat up and are constantly drying out.
  • If possible mulch paths rather them leaving them grass.  Mulching paths just makes for less maintenance.

If you have any questions about this, email me at

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4 Responses to Gardening 101 – Raised Beds

  1. Hanna says:

    Very useful tips Charlotte! Thanks :))

  2. Awesome tips for raised garden beds! I love the dog in your pictures as well! good stuff Charlotte!

  3. Pingback: Build New Raised Bed «

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