How to Create a Raised Bed in Your Garden

making a raised bed - a guide

If your current planting goals involve plants that require good water drainage, I am sure you know how frustrating it is to have a yard that just wonít cooperate. Some plants can handle the excess water that comes about from being in an area that doesnít drain properly. In fact, it might just cause them to bloom more lushly. However, other plants donít cope as well, and it will cause them to die a gruesome, bloated death. You should always find out about the drainage required for every plant you buy, and make sure that it wonít conflict with any of the areas you are considering planting it in.

To test how much water your designated patch of soil will retain, dig a hole approximately ten inches deep. Fill it with water, and return when all the water has disappeared in a day. Fill it back up again. If the 2nd hole full of water isnít gone in 10 hours, your soil has a low saturation point. This means that when water soaks into it, it will stick around for a long time before dissipating. This is unacceptable for almost any plant, and you must do something to remedy it if you want your plants to survive.

The usual method for improving drainage in your garden is to create a raised bed. This involves creating a border for a small bed and adding enough soil and compost to it to raise it above the rest of the yard by at least 5 inches. You will be amazed at how much this small modification will improve your water drainage. If you are planning to build a raised bed, your prospective area is either on grass or on dirt. For each of these situations, you should build it slightly differently.

If you want to start a raised garden in a nongrassy area, you wonít have much trouble. Just find some border to retain the dirt you will be adding. I’ve found that nothing works quite as well as a few two-by-fours. After you create the wall, you must put in the proper amount soil and steer manure. Depending on how long you plan to wait before planting, you will want to adjust the ratio to allow for any deterioration.

If youíre trying to install a raised bed where sod already exists, you will have a slightly more difficult time. You will need to cut the sod around the garden’s perimeter, and flip it over. This may sound simple, but you will need something with a very sharp edge to slice the edges of the sod and get under it. Once you have turned it all upside down, adding a layer of straw is best to discourage the grass from growing back up. After the layer of straw, simply add all the soil and steer manure that a normal garden would need.

Planting your plants in your new area shouldnít pose many difficulties. It is essentially the same process as your usual planting session. Just be sure the roots donít extend too far into the original ground level. The whole point of creating the raised bed is to keep the roots out of the soil which saturates easily. Having long roots that extend that far completely destroys the point.

You notice an almost immediate improvement once you have plants in your new bed. The added soil facilitates better root development. At the same time, evaporation is prevented and decomposition is discouraged. All these things together create an ideal environment for almost any plant to grow in. So don’t be intimidated by the thought of adjusting the very topography of your yard. It is a simple process as I am sure you realized, and the long-term results are worth every bit of work.

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