The Basics of Building Raised Bed Planters

The Basics of Building Raised Bed Planters

Laurie McGinley
Apr 12, 2012

Raised bed planters have a number of advantages: the soil is loose and promotes better plant growth, you can mix your own soil and know what is in it, you can raise the bed to work at waist height, and you can keep weeds at bay more easily. Sound good? Here's a crash course on the basics of including them in your garden...

Whether you are raising your planting beds six inches or three feet off the ground, there are some things to keep in mind when building your raised bed planters.

  • Soil
    Soil should be lose, full of nutrients and drain well. Mel's Mix is a good guide for getting started with the right combination of ingredients.
  • Weed control
    Before you build the planter, take the time to lay down a layer of weed barrier between the ground and your soil. As an alternative to purchasing weed barrier, you can lay down cardboard to kill the grass and weeds.
  • Construction
    If you are building directly on the ground the construction of your raised bed planter will be pretty straightforward. The utilitarian approach is to use four pieces of 2"x10" untreated lumber that are about six feet long, some nails and four short pieces of 1"x1" untreated wood. Just lay the square out and nail the pieces together, using the 1x1s to strengthen the corners. If you are looking for something more elaborate, try out one of these ideas.
  • Raised bed planter with sitting edge
    This Old House has a step-by-step tutorial on building a lovely raised bed planter. You can build it as high as you like.
  • Ready to build kits
    Natural Yards has a variety of ready to build raised bed planters that range from the very simple bed to a vertical planter.
  • Pest control
    Earth Easy offers a raised bed planter with a built in bunny screen that easily lowers to allow you to tend to the plants. Consider something like this if small animals are attracted to your garden.

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(Image: Kolin Smith, This Old House)

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