Lettuce in a raised garden bed

Raising the Beds

Lettuce in a raised beds made with old car tyres

Raised garden beds have become somewhat trendy. Some people are employing the tactic just because they prefer not having to break their backs and pad their knees to do gardening, others because of the amazingly creative ways in which it can play out but for some it’s also quite honestly just a space saving technique because theirs comes at a premium. Whatever your reason, it’s an incredibly diverse new garden art form that can serve all sorts of purposes, simultaneously. 

Depending on the type of raised bed you go for, there may be some additional things to take into consideration, for example, if the raised bed is quite small, approximately the size of a pot or container, you’ll need to adhere to the rules of planting in a container for best results. If you’ve gone and made yourself a full-size flower bed and just raised it, you’ll be good to plant things up as you normally would in a garden bed. If your raised bed is quite shallow no matter the square footage, you’ll also need to make sure that you select plants that don’t need a lot of room for their roots to settle in, failing which they may either not perform very well or possibly even fall over if they’re too top heavy in comparison.

Recycled Raised Beds 

Wheelbarrows are great for planting in

The next time you have your car tyres changed, don’t just leave them with the dealer, take them home and make some raised flower beds, with either one, two or three tyres, depending on how high you’d like them. The nice thing about this hollow bed is that drainage holes are not necessary, and there is plenty of room for the roots to take hold.

Got an old wheelbarrow lying around that’s past its prime? Rusting away in places that make it only usable to carry around big things? Well, how about turning it into a raised bed for some annuals to fill and flow over? Such a delightful addition to a garden and brilliant way to recycle your old wheelbarrow.

There are so many uses for old pallets and with just a small search on Pinterest you’ll have DIY ideas to last you until retirement. The same applies to different ideas on how to use them to create raised bed. One can create full beds, potager type beds or even wall planters depending on how creative you’re feeling!

If you’ve got access to cinder blocks … that is a very simple, throw together type raised bed right there. They are heavy enough to not require affixing to each other which also means they can be used and reused whenever the fancy takes you, and they have a straight lined shape to fit together making sure you only need line them up. They also have neat little holes that can be used to plant other, perhaps more trailing annual varieties which can cover their somewhat unappealing appearance.

Top Tips:

  • Whatever your selection, make sure the drainage is good, so punch holes in the bottom if needs be to let the water drain out and use a layer of pebbles or stones to cover the holes so your soil doesn’t just run out every time you water.
  • Depending on how hot it is, or where you’ve positioned your raised beds i.e. in full sun, you may need to water them more regularly than garden beds which don’t tend to lose as much moisture.
  • Using moisture retaining granules will help hold moisture in the soil, as will adding a layer of mulch on top of the soil. Investing in a moisture meter to test the moisture level from time to time is a wonderful investment for any gardener.
  • Use a good potting mix for smaller container type raised beds, rather than garden soil that may contain weeds that will thrive in this space receiving some extra attention.
  • If you’ll be planting a variety of plants in your raised bed, remember to pick ones that have similar soil, light and watering requirements.
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