How to Build an Eco-Friendly Raised Garden Bed

Raised bed gardening

Are you tired of staring at the same sprawl of grass, day in and day out? 

Are you on the lookout for ways to make your garden more eco-friendly and eye-catching? 

Have you been thinking about building a raised garden bed for ages, but you’re not sure where to start?

Well, it’s time to take the plunge!

Raised garden beds are space-efficient, environmentally friendly, and easy to take care of. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a gardening newbie or an eco-friendly gardening expert — there is always something new to learn.

Here is everything you need to know about building your own eco-friendly raised garden bed.

Location, Location, Location

Your raised beds deserve a prime real estate spot on your lawn or in your garden. 

Even if you don’t want to make the raised bed the focal point of the space, there are still some things you can keep in mind when building a raised bed: 

  • Sunlight — Pick the sunny side of your yard/garden. Full sun is necessary for vegetables to grow.
  • Level Ground — To make your life easier, when you build a raised bed, make sure the ground it sits on is even.
  • Blending — Blend the raised bed with the environment; think about the rest of your garden and where the best position for the raised bed will be. Keep in mind that when vegetables are out of season, the raised bed won’t look as attractive. 

Choose the Right Material and Build the Bed

Raised garden bed materials are a long-term investment, and you should keep this in mind when deciding what you’ll use. It’s difficult to switch up once they’ve been built, so be careful with your choice.

Before you start constructing it, you should also consider what kind of weather you will expose the raised bed to. You want your raised bed to last as long as possible, so choosing a material that best suits your environment is important.

Remember: Building your own raised garden bed may take time and practice. But even if you are not a DIY home improvement enthusiast, with the right instructions the assembly can be painless.

Stacked Stone

 one stone raised garden bed full of soil
Source: flickr.com

A stacked stone raised bed is a popular choice for several reasons:

  • Low maintenance
  • No rot (as opposed to building with wood)
  • Good for environments that rain often
  • Curb appeal
  • Easy and quick to build

One downside, however, is a higher upfront investment. Although you can always go the green route and recycle — check your local gardening and recycling centers for discarded stones to use. 

Recycled Redwood

best redwood raised garden beds raised on the ground
Source: flickr.com

This is another popular planter choice. 

  • It’s eco-friendly
  • It’s more resistant to rot than other types of wood
  • It’s good for environments that rain a lot (though not as good as stacked stone)
  • It’s good for growing eggplant, squash, and tomato

Stacked Pallet

wood beds raised in the garden, full of soil and plant, lawn garden
Source: flickr.com

For another great eco-friendly route, recycle a pallet. 

You can get some at your local gardening or recycling centers — where they’ll likely be ecstatic that you want to take them off their hands.

Here is a helpful video on how to use a pallet to build a raised garden bed.

Cedar Raised Garden Bed

best cedar raised beds, elevated garden, raised bed garden
Source: flickr.com

Both new and experienced gardeners are fans of cedar raised garden beds because they are:

  • Rot-resistant
  • Simple to assemble
  • Stackable and possible to use as a single level bed

A word of advice — if you are a gardening newbie, consider staying clear of metal garden beds, as, often, they are not environmentally friendly. 

Metal is not rot-resistant, and it can rust easily. Moreover, you never know how the metal has been treated, and it could turn out to be poisonous for your vegetable garden. 

It’s always better to choose natural materials — such as wood or stone — instead of metal. 

Size and Layout

Once you’ve chosen the raised garden bed material that best suits your needs, it’s time to think about its size and layout.

Here are the recommended sizes:

Width

You want to make sure you can reach the center of the raised beds. Therefore, you shouldn’t go over 4 feet in width.

Depth

The ideal height of raised beds can be anywhere from 6 to 24 inches. The important question to ask is this: How much bending over do you want to do? 

If you are young and fit and don’t have issues bending over, your raised bed can be as low as 6 inches. However, if you’re a mature planter, consider going up higher to that standard height of 24 inches.

Another thing to think about with depth is drainage. The optimal drainage height is 11 inches —

natural water drainage in a lower bed can help soak the soil.

For the best results, there should be another 12 inches of soil below the bed, as this will make sure the plant roots receive enough water.

Space Between the Beds

It’s all about personal preference, here.

Plan how many raised garden beds you want; think about their position and which plants will go where. If you use a wheelbarrow, think ahead and leave extra space between the raised gardens.

It’s Time to Fill Your Raised Garden Bed

If you want to be eco-friendly apart from choosing the right material, this is the step that will make or break your raised garden bed — so listen closely. 

  1. Start by putting old newspapers at the bottom of the bed. This will prevent weeds and grass from growing in the soil through your raised beds. 
  2. Fill up the bed with soil, atop the newspapers, using organic matter. The best combination for growing plants is topsoil and composted manure.

If you’re a newbie planter, here are 5 tips for improving raised bed garden soil, and if you’re an experienced planter, be ready to take on composting.

Here are some composters to choose from:

Spin Bin Tumbling Composter
Spin Bin Tumbling Composter
Buy Now

Time to Plant

With our helpful guide on how to build a raised garden bed in hand, it’s time for the last step: planting your raised gardens.

It can be tough, but once you see your seeds growing it will be worth it — imagine how fulfilling it will be telling others that you grow all the vegetables on your table.

If you’re not ready for seeds, you can grow your garden from starter plants, which you can find at your local farmer’s market. 

Remember, always buy from reputable vendors. 

To be even more eco-friendly, think about using companion plants. Some types of plant combinations can deter pests, enhance soil, and boost plant quality. 

A couple of the best examples are:

  • Planting basil with tomatoes to repel hornworms.
  • Planting rosemary with cabbage to best deter feasting moths.
  • Planting chives with carrots to ward off aphids — while also improving the flavor of the latter as an added bonus.

    being food safe and having lawn care in raised beds, self watering raised beds
    Source: flickr.com

Time to Get Started

We at Clean Air Gardening hope our guide has helped you with building your eco-friendly raised garden beds.

To summarize:

  • Choose the location
  • Pick the material
  • Determine the size and layout
  • Fill up the raised bed
  • Plant!

Be as creative as you like — the sky’s the limit. Remember, if you need any help to maintain your garden, Clean Air Gardening has all the tools you need.

Featured image: flickr.com by Scott Costello

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