How to Build a Raised Garden Bed: Tips For Correct Filling And Planting

A raised bed is an asset to any garden. It not only looks beautiful but also promises the best harvests. Hobby gardeners are using it more and more for growing vegetables because yields are two to three times higher than on a flatbed of the same size. Thanks to the increased warmth in the raised bed, fruit and vegetables ripen faster and can be harvested faster. Those who are convinced of the advantages of the raised bed should not hesitate and go to work immediately. Regardless of whether it is bought as a kit or self-made as soon as the frame construction is finished, the question arises: How do you properly fill and plant the raised bed? In this article, you will learn what to consider when creating a raised bed and how to properly coat the raised bed.

When Should You Create A Raised Garden Bed?

Fall and spring are generally the best seasons to plant a raised garden bed. To do this, you need many different organic materials. They contain many nutrients that stimulate plant growth. Since garden waste is usually available in the fall, this season is also the best time to fill a raised bed. Ideally, create a raised bed for the following year in autumn. So the layers have enough time to sit down. A plant in spring is not quite optimal but it is still possible if the garden is updated.

How High Is A Raised Garden Bed?

Find the right size and height for your needs. Raised beds vary in height depending on the planting – from 25 cm to one meter. For example, a low bed with a height of 30 cm is sufficient for potatoes. If you suffer from back pain and prefer to work standing up, you should build your raised garden bed at a comfortable height of 80 – 100 cm.

The ideal size for a raised bed is 0.80 cm wide and 2 meters long. The length depends of course on the available space, but the width must not be more than 130 centimeters so that the plants remain easily accessible.

The raised bed should ideally be laid out in a north-south direction so that the sun can run as well as possible. The short sides of the raised bed should face west and east.

Also, consider sufficient space to be able to walk around the entire raised bed without obstacles and to be easily accessible with large garden tools such as a wheelbarrow. If you want, you can also put several raised beds next to each other.

Create Raised Bed – Which Layers And With Which Filling?

Before filling the raised bed, you should consider whether you want to use it as a bed for ornamental plants or useful plants. Flowers are not as demanding as plants, but filling the raised vegetable bed correctly is the most important step for a successful harvest.

The advantage of a raised bed is, among other things, that it is independent of the soil quality of the garden. The flexibility in the composition of the filling enables the best possible soil conditions to be tailored specifically to the requirements of the plants. All layers should be approximately the same height. The general rule is that the content gets finer and finer.

The surface does not necessarily have to be made of fertile topsoil, but can also be paved. That is why urban gardeners can also look forward to homemade vegetables, herbs, and fruit. The additional excavation of mother earth in the garden can stabilize the raised bed in the long term. So that you do not have any problems with rodents, you should line the bottom of your raised bed with a wire mesh before filling.

Raised beds made of wood are lined with foil on the inside to protect them from decay. This is not necessary, for example, for a raised bed made of natural stones. The film prevents liquid from penetrating through the housing, so pond films are a logical choice. However, other foils can also be used. If you want to use the raised bed for growing vegetables, make sure that pollutants from the material of the film do not migrate into the bottom of the raised bed.

Layer Number 1: Drainage Layer

This layer consists of twigs, twigs, bark mulch, wood shavings, pottery shards, large pebbles, and expanded clay. The drainage prevents water from accumulating in the raised bed. Mix the debris with some soil to fill large holes.

2nd Layer – Lawn With Vegetation Down

Next comes a layer of garden waste or grass waste so that smaller parts of the top layers cannot run down. Alternatively, you can also use cardboard.

3rd Layer – Leaves, Straw & Coarse Compost

This is followed by a layer of collected leaves, horse manure, and roughly decomposed compost. This layer contains the microorganisms that support the rotting process and provide important nutrients. Beneficials like earthworms are also welcome to enrich the soil.

4th Layer – Planting Layer

The last layer in the raised bed is the planting layer. It consists of high-quality potting soil for planting with a special humus soil or finished compost. If you fire your fireplace with wood, you can use the ashes as fertilizer in the raised bed.

The Lifespan Of A Raised Bed

The raised bed decreases by about 10 to 15 centimeters over time. This is a natural process as the material rots inside and loses volume. For cultivation over several years, the raised bed must always be filled with mulch material, compost, or soil. The soil’s nutrient content is exhausted after 5 to 7 years and should be completely renewed.

Which Plants In The Raised Bed?

In principle, all plants can be placed in the raised bed. In order to achieve a good harvest, you should inform yourself in good time about which plants can be placed in the raised bed and when. For example, different types of vegetables have different nutritional requirements. A distinction is made between heavy feeders, medium feeders, and weak feeders. You can also benefit from certain plant combinations, while some varieties should never be planted side by side.

How to Create A Raised Bed For Vegetables

In the first year, you should grow particularly nutrient-hungry vegetables (so-called heavy feeders) due to the increased nitrate content. For example tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, carrots.

From the second year, you can grow more nitrate-storing plants, since the nitrate load in nutrient-rich soil is already significantly reduced. Middle-eaters are fennel, garlic, lettuce, onions, peppers. Radishes, beetroot, Chinese cabbage, and spinach can still be planted in the second year.

Only from the third year can you plant weak-eating herbs and lettuce. Weak eaters include peas, beans, Brussels sprouts, white cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi.

When planting, it makes sense to create mixed cultures in the raised garden bed. A combination of different plants that thrive well side by side and can even positively influence each other. This also prevents the one-sided removal of nutrients. Another advantage is that the plants can protect each other from pests. Sliced ​​celery, for example, protects cabbages from caterpillars and fleas.

Cucumbers with dill or carrots with onions grow particularly well. Potatoes are especially delicious when they have a caraway or coriander next to them. Cress can make radishes even tastier. A mixture of flowers and vegetables can also promote insect growth and thus increase the harvest. This applies in particular to tomatoes, pumpkins, and Co.

Good neighbors in bed: spinach with lettuce, cabbage with celery, parsley with strawberries, basil with cucumber and zucchini

High growing varieties come in the middle and low growing varieties are used at the edge of the raised bed. In this way, the one-sided shadow formation is avoided. The selected plants should have a maximum final height of one arm length so that you can still reach them comfortably.

Create A Raised Bed For Herbs

Basically lovage, dill, rosemary, chives, parsley, thyme, sage, basil, savory, tarragon, and lemon balm are suitable for the raised garden bed. Take into account the amount of growth for herbs: growing herbs such as rosemary and sage should be arranged in the area of ​​the raised bed to the north.

The soil must not be too nutritious for Mediterranean herbs. They lose their taste and smell. Rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme, and marjoram thrive best on the lean ground. For these varieties, you can mix soil with a third of sand.

Create A Raised Bed For Strawberries

If strawberries are planted in the raised garden bed, harvesting is easier. In addition, the berries are not on the ground, where they can easily get dirty or rot.

Strawberries are heavy feed and can be grown in a freshly raised bed. The best planting date is March / April. It is advisable to mulch the bed with bark mulch, pine needles, or straw. Strawberries go well with a variety of neighbors such as lettuce, garlic, radishes, onions.

After three years, the strawberry raised bed should be completely rebuilt.

Create A Raised Bed For Flowers

Raised beds are also increasingly being used in the ornamental garden. Almost all perennials and small trees are suitable for planting. In contrast to the herb and vegetable bed, you can do without the complex layer system of the bed. Here it depends on the light. Concentrate on a good drainage layer and fill the bed with compost and potting soil. Here you choose the potting soil that is best suited for the desired planting.

In the first year, you can put strong toes like chrysanthemums, geraniums, and tulips in the raised bed. In the second year, dahlias, gloxinias, and snapdragons thrive. In the third year, you plant flowers that love poorer soil, such as azaleas, petunias, primroses, pansies, begonias.

About the author


Misty is a Seattle based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with passion in DIY and home decoration ideas DecorLoving is frequently cited by many DIY lovers and decorators around the globe.