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Building and Maintaining Raised Garden Beds

Consider adding a raised garden bed to your landscape plan. Raised beds are simple to care for and even easier to enjoy. Here are all the tips you'll need to get started.
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Raised garden beds are simple ways to landscape your yard or start growing your own vegetables. Theyíre easy to maintain, add a splash of color with flowers or a place to grow fresh veggies, and can be placed almost anywhere in the yard. Plus, the raised height makes them better for your back when youíre working in the yard. Learn how to start your own with these raised bed gardening tips, and learn how to maintain the lawn around them with mowing and weeding tips. With a little help, youíll have your own blossoming oasis in no time.†

Choosing the perfect space for your raised garden bed
The most important raised bed gardening tip to remember is location. With the easy construction, and unique, above ground design, raised beds can go almost anywhere in your yard, but there are a few key factors to consider. The first is orientation. Raised beds should be oriented with the long sides of the bed facing north and south so that shade from the larger plants in the bed doesnít hinder the other plantsí growth. The second is location. Position your beds so they get at least eight hours of sunlight a day. Avoid shady spots under trees or by the house unless what you are planting requires partial shade. You also want to consider leaving enough space between beds for mowing or maintaining the lawn with outdoor power equipment like string trimmers. Finally, you can spruce up your raised beds with potted plants around the corners as well.

Building a raised garden bed
There are four main things to consider when building a raised garden bed, materials, soil preparation, construction and drainage. Review the raised bed gardening tips below to know what to do when building your own. You can also purchase prebuilt beds for an even simpler (though more expensive) project.
Materials for building a raised garden bed. You can create a raised bed out of stone, wood or brick, but a good raised bed gardening tip is to use redwood or cedar as they are affordable, rot-resistant and look great with age. No matter what you choose, you want it to be able to support the soil and plants and drain well. The first step is to decide what size beds you want. Typically raised beds are around 3 feet wide by six feet long (you donít want to exceed four feet wide as it will be too difficult to reach the middle of the bed). With respect to the height of the bed, thatís also up to you, but typically one to three feet high is best, just make sure thereís enough room for the roots of your plants.

Soil preparation for building a raised garden bed. Once you know the size you want and the location, itís time to prepare the soil. Soil content is easier to control with raised beds as you can simply build the bed and add the nutrient-rich soil you need. However, if you will be planting anything with deep roots, or have rocky soil, you may want to prepare the ground before building the bed. Map out the space with string or chalk, then till the earth and remove any rocks and weeds. If youíre worried about weeds or rodents you can take this time to lay down landscaping fabric or chicken wire respectively.

Tips for constructing a raised garden bed. After you have your lumber, construct each wall individually to the height you want. Reinforce each side with two pieces of two-by-four. Then, making sure your plot is level, position your sides in place and connect them with screws, using a level and framing square to keep everything even. You may choose to position it at ground level, or slightly below, but whichever you do, keep everything even.

Creating a drainage system for your raised garden bed. Proper drainage is important to reduce erosion in your beds. There are several systems you can use, from small pebbles on top of your chicken wire, to drill holes near the base or pipes buried alongside with drain holes drilled in. This keeps the bed and the ground around it from getting too soggy.

Mowing and maintaining the lawn around raised garden bedsOne of the downsides to building raised garden beds, is that they create a new obstacle to be aware of when mowing. With enough space in between, and a zero-turn lawn mower, you can navigate around the beds. But you may need other outdoor power equipment like string trimmers to maintain the grass and weeds close to the beds. Otherwise lawn mower parts like blades and more can be damaged when you get too close to the border of the bed. If your beds are too close together, you can mulch or lay stone in between. But youíll still need to take caution mowing around the outside.


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