Looking to boost your veggies and flowers this growing season? Plant up! Raised garden beds are inexpensive, space-saving planting spots that offer improved drainage and deeper, looser soil for better yield – and they make controlling pesky garden insects just a little easier on the back. Here’s how to get started:
- Pick a good spot. Choose a level part of your lawn that gets at least six to eight hours of sun per day. The more slope, the more likely it will be that you’ll need to build your frame in stepped tiers (definitely more complicated). Use a non-selective herbicide, like Garden Safe® Brand Weed & Grass Killer, to remove existing grass down to the root under your new beds.
- Select your materials. The most common and inexpensive building materials for raised bed frames are wood and cinderblock – although you can use pretty much anything, including landscape stone. Cedar, cypress or locust woods are naturally rot-resistant. When choosing your materials, consider that your bed will need to be at least 18 inches off the ground to keep it safely out of reach of garden-munching critters.
- Make a plan. Rectangular beds no wider than 4 ft (and as long as you desire) work best so you can easily reach plants in the middle without having to step into the bed. Depth is a matter of preference. Most plants require rooting space of about 6 to 12 inches, so 18 inches is ideal. Planters deeper than 24 inches will probably require supports (a more involved construction project).
- Create a soil mix. One of the benefits of raised beds is that you can choose exactly what type of soil you use in them. Add several inches of existing soil to your raised bed. Over the area of the bed, apply about 2 to 3 inches of planting mix, then dig down as deeply as possible (6 to 8 inches) and lift the soil up to mix with the planting mix. When the area is well mixed, apply a garden fertilizer with high phosphorus content (if your planting mix contained fertilizer, you can skip this step). Turn the soil again and break up any clumps.
Soil in raised beds can dry out more quickly than in conventional gardens, so check soil often to make sure it’s not dried out. You can use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to keep moisture levels steady. Consider treating plants weekly with a good insecticide formulated for use on edibles, like Garden Safe® Brand Houseplant & Garden Insect Killer. You can use it on veggies right up to the day you harvest to control common lettuce munchers like aphids, weevils and leafhoppers.