Building Raised Beds

Year two of my forest garden is getting underway with the temps starting to warm. My planting of perennial plants and trees will be a lot less ambitious than it was last year, when I was starting with a blank slate. I’ve bought a few trees and shrubs to plant this year, which will bring me pretty close to capacity in terms of how many larger plants I can actually fit into my limited space.

This weekend I built two raised beds for growing vegetables in the narrow strip of land on the west side of my house. This area of the yard has been a bit of a black whole so far — I’ve had a hard time figuring out exactly what to do with it. The main problem is that the water lines to the house are buried there, along with some drainage pipes, so I’ve been hesitant to plant anything with deep roots that might mess with the pipes.

I put a few rough beds there when we first moved in, but basically it was just overrun with dandelions. Last year when I was scattering all kinds of seeds willy nilly around my yard, I made the mistake of including dandelions since they are good nutrient accumulators. They are also a major pain in the ass once they start proliferating. But there was a silver lining.

Here’s what the site looked like before I set to weeding. Quite a mess.

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Once I had the weeds out, I moved all of the good soil onto a tarp and levelled the land. Then I started constructing the raised beds.

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I decided to make one 3 foot X 3 foot bed and another 3 foot X 10 foot bed. The only cutting I had to do was dicing up a few 2 X 4’s, so I kept it traditional with the saw. If I build anything more elaborate it’ll be time to get some power tools though.

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I got the beds in position and levelled them as much as I was willing to.

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I had a pile of semi-decent soil sitting in the yard which I used to fill the bottom half of the beds, then added a layer of uprooted dandelions thinking they will add some nutrients. I filled the rest of the beds with the soil from the tarp.

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Fifteen bags of gravel later, I’m happy with the results. It’s not particularly beautiful, but very utilitarian, low maintenance, and a lot better than it was before.

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I should be back again soon since I have a pile of driftwood sitting in the yard that needs distributing and the aforementioned other projects, which I’ll explain later. Bring the spring!

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6 thoughts on “Building Raised Beds

  1. Your raised beds are so much better built than mine! I am trying to convert most of my large vege garden into boxes this year and am currently up to about 18. The biggest problem is that I am too cheap to buy any new wood to build them with so just use what ever I can find lying around. They are not exactly level or beautiful, but hopefully they will do the trick for a few years!

    1. Nice to hear from you Jo! Most of my other raised beds are made using driftwood that I get down at the beach. These are the first I’ve actually built from proper wood. Anyway, having healthy dirt inside is really the most important thing, right?

  2. I’m edging towards that mindset too, Jo. But I still want it to look cool if possible…trying to balance good looks/practicality with minimal weeds. Hopefully I’ll eventually have enough beneficial ground covers to keep the weeds mostly at bay.

  3. Casey, the wood ones look great. We have the coloured metal ones which bolt together but I think the wooden beds look more authentic

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