How to Use Raised Beds in Your Garden

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Which materials ensure your raised beds are sturdy, long-lasting and, most importantly, safe to grow food in? 

In this video, we explain what you need to know to get the best from raised bed gardening. From how to build the beds, the right size to choose and which soil mix to use, you’ll find invaluable advice with examples from real gardens and a demonstration of how our Garden Planner can help you plan out the perfect spacing for plants within raised beds.

  • The perfect spot for a raised bed is sunny and close to the house for easy access for weeding and harvesting. Raised beds can be sited on any surface.
  • Our Garden Planner makes planning the layout and location of your beds simple. Use the Rectangle tool or choose one of the Raised Beds from the selection of Garden Objects for a more realistic look. With the beds laid out you can add your crops and even include drip irrigation, if required.
  • To avoid the need to step on the soil, make your raised bed no more than four feet wide, of two to three feet wide if it will be sited against a wall or fence. The minimum height for a raised bed is six inches, of up to a foot for root crops such as carrots and potatoes. Don’t forget to leave about two feet between beds for paths.

How to Make a Raised Bed

To make a bed from wood, you have three options:

  • Treated Wood. Pressure-treated or dip-treated wood is commonly available. It lasts longer than untreated wood, however many gardeners prefer more environmentally friendly alternatives derived from natural products.
  • Durable Woods. Cedar and larch are popular for raised beds, as they are naturally durable and long-lasting. They are relatively expensive, but they will last for many years.
  • Thicker Boards. 2-inch thick boards will take longer to rot than thinner alternatives.

To make your raised bed, screw pre-cut planks together using decking screws.

Screwing the boards into wooden corner posts, instead of screwing through one board into the end of another, can make the frame sturdier. Either way, it’s easier if you pre-drill the holes to one size smaller than the screw diameter.

Fill your beds with a nutrient-rich mix of home-made compost or commercially-produced potting soil, and topsoil. With the right mix you shouldn’t need to add fertilizer; just top up with compost once or twice a year.

Find more expert advice and create a garden plan that can be used next year for proper crop rotation!

The Garden Planner is available from The Old Farmer’s Almanac here:


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Raised beds

This video is a cornucopia of useful information. I do however have a question. My other half (husband)and myself are getting a bit, shall we say long in the tooth? We live on my husbands fixed income of just under $900.00 a mounth this leaves no wiggle room what so ever. This has inspired (more like forced lol) us to make the greener ,cheeper, repurposed ,reclaimed , salvaged/upcycled etc... life change choices.
We were doing the green thing before , dont get me wrong. I just dont like having my choices narrowed to zero. lol . Anyway back to my question. Can the more expensive items be salvaged /upcycled, and if so could you please tell me what other kinds of materials if any, that could be used ?
Like maybe pallets for example ? Thank you in advance for your time. Sorry if I rambled a bit , what can I say , Im old and I like to share .

This answered my questions

This answered my questions about how to build a raised bed garden. Have been considering it for a few years and am determined to do it now. Thanks so much!

This was very helpful, as I'm

This was very helpful, as I'm finally in a home which will allow gardening beds. Will also allow me to have my grandson assist and learn about gardening.

Thanks a lot good things

Thanks a lot good things enjoy it

I've just bought a

I've just bought a groundfloor city flat with its own garden (tiny!) and I would love to grow my own vegetables - this video was immensely helpful. Thank you!

It seems that a raised bed

It seems that a raised bed needs watering more often than one that isn't raised.

I have been comtemplating

I have been comtemplating gardening, and from the video, I believe that a raised bed would be a good starter point, especially if you have pets. I would like to start with higher beds since I have problems bending. This is very helpful.

I am using 4x4 timbers for my

I am using 4x4 timbers for my beds. easy to attach to one another, and if I need to go higher next year, I can stack and attach with no problem.

What a wonderful instructive

What a wonderful instructive video. I am trying square foot gardening for the first time this year, however, I've not committed to raised beds yet. This video is encouraging and I would like to try one raised bed this season. Thank you!

I have yet to see a raised

I have yet to see a raised bed demo that uses cinder blocks as the supporting structure. Are they not more durable than wood and have no worry about preservation chemicals present in treated wood?

My neighbor's father used

My neighbor's father used concrete blocks....with great results. If space is limited, the only drawback I can see is the extra space used by the big blocks. Would be easy to stack 2 or even 3 high and not have worry about the walls 'falling out'.....

I Have been considering

I Have been considering raised beds foe awhile now & this video gives me some needed information.

I have been looking for info

I have been looking for info like this for years. very informative.
I will add one thing to the "how to mix your soils" portion. Purchase a concrete mixing machine to mix soils with (electric/gas opperated and pretty cheap at an auction). You will get a more even soil mix verses the good old wheel barrow and shovel and less physical energy used mixing and channeling it elsewhere in the garden. Happ gardening folks.

I started raised bed

I started raised bed gardening last season and this video was a nice recap.