Home › Forums › SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION, ENERGY and WATER CONSERVATION › Backyard projects › Help me design my raised garden beds
December 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm #257490
My vege garden has terrible drainage so I need to convert it to raised beds. Trouble is, there are so many ways of doing that and I can’t work out which is best.
[li]Do the easy way like my next door neighbor and buy some treated pine from bunnings but I would rather not use treated pine for food production.[/li]
[li]Buy some second hand hardwood sleepers from a local place but they are really heavy, hard to work with, termite prone and in very variable condition[/li]
[li]Build the beds out of brick but as the worlds least efficient bricklayer I would probably be finished some time in 2020.[/li]
[li]Pick the brains of a knowledgeable group of people who might be able to give me some pointers[/li]
Any thoughts/suggestions from those who have gone down the raised route? The vege garden is about 4mx10m and is currently separated into 4 beds of about 2.5mx4m.
DaveDecember 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm #529820
you could maybe build the beds out of limestone blocks …… much quicker than bricks
but if it was me I would do like us and buy earth rings ……….. here we can get ones that are off cuts from making poly rain water tanks …….. just a long strip of poly about 450mm high and arround 10m long ……… they bolt together at the ends with a slight overlap making a circular garden about 3 m diameter …….
we put black plastic in the bottom and about 50mm up the side and make a wicking bed because our problem is too much drainage as we have what can only be describe a black beach sand ………..December 18, 2012 at 5:54 pm #529821
We used ACQ treated pine in the Veg-Mahal. No problems with it, easy to obtain, but a bit more expensive than the regular CCA stuff.December 18, 2012 at 5:57 pm #529822
Hiya Dave, raised garden beds are not my forte but, as you may have noticed, that rarely stops me from throwing my two bits into the room. 🙂
We currently have four raised garden beds in action.
* 2 are from recycled refridgerators;
* 1 is around a large water take which is in a raised position (needed to have the water tank level). We added soil, compost etc around three quarters of the tank and hold the soil in place with recycled sandstone block thingies.
* 1 was built by Mr Bobbs using old star pickets at each corner and old corrugated iron bits and pieces from around the paddock.
They all work well and save my back heaps. I now grow broccoli without white butterfly probs because it is so easy to put white curtain material around and over the raised bed. I have a bit of a swelled head about my broccoli now.
I am pretty sure Scarecrows garden is made up of mostly raised beds so a quick search will give you lots of info there I should think.
Best of luck with the project. I know oodles of helpful suggestions will come flowing in.
PS: An added bonus of raised beds is the ability to make them into wicking beds if you so wish.December 18, 2012 at 6:38 pm #529823
I’d suggest not the top 3 options you suggest 🙂
It is definitely what I will be doing on my property that has hard rock clay soil 🙁December 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm #529824
Thanks for the suggestions folks… keep em coming.
I should also mention one other design criteria – Mrs Airgead has decreed that the raised beds must look good and “not look like a heap of old junk held together with wire”. As a naturally lazy person, this is somewhat inconvenient as it may well involve more work.
This decree somewhat limits my use of star pickets, old galvanized iron, fridges etc.
DaveDecember 18, 2012 at 6:41 pm #529825
You could still use the No-Dig garden method.
Once you have made your piles, you can get standard garden edging from Bunnings and edge the piles.
Would look nice and very little work.December 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm #529826
Dave, I would not build raised garden beds. I have 12 of the bastards and a number of non edged ones. Granted the advantage of having them raised is that you dont have to bend down but my changing philosophy of gardening is that the very act of gardening itself is a health pursuit and bending over and/or squating is a beneficial act in itself. In addition you have to fill them to the desired height (certainly not a lazy mans pursuit), maintain timber, its costly, once in place it limits you to that design, and forking over the soil can be problematic.
I suggest that you improve your drainage and plant deep rooting Lucerne to help open up the soil structure and add as much organic mater to the soil to encourage natural water holding and drainage capacity. Also soft edge your beds with an angled trench and or plants. Spade edging looks very neat and plant edging with flowers such as small marigolds looks terrific and encourages beneficial insects to your patch.
Edited to add, Hummers suggestion of hay bails is a goodie but they act more as walls than edging imho.December 18, 2012 at 7:11 pm #529827
I like the strawbale concept myself :tup:December 18, 2012 at 7:13 pm #529828
you could use bales of hay whatever end up with beds around 12″s deep abvoe your original soil, no edges needed.
we used 10″ wide sheets of cliplok roofing:
and nothing wrong with corro edges, star pickets and a bit of wire all very sturdy and not into winning garden shows just functionality:
or use what maybe easily available in your area if you are plagued with rocks then do dry wall, but for me we need any edging to be minimum thickness(nowaduys not too heavy) or we may have to cut down on garden width as we would need to reach over thicker walls.
seasoned hardwood from demo’ yard whould be long lasting and termite resistant, we use new sleeper sized planks, they did very well with no treatment only they are heavy to handle. also used available rocks at one place and section of wall lining that cement rendered one hardifles. that did good and being on a 6% slope meant only needed the wall board along teh front and sides.
for teh oldies these roof models are great no bending at all, and be hard for hares and bandicoots to get into, the extra height of star picket can become tomaot or bean trellis (already done that) no stakes needed also could be sued to lay net clothe to protect from birds etc.
we used 6′ pickets but 7′ or 8′ could be more versatile. we plan to sometime build a poly hoop house over complete garden area.
got 2 cut down corro tank beds those poly strips mentioned sound great with a bit more work could make then square/rectangle or more oblong than round?
our first 3 beds from new chineses roofing as we could not source second hand stuff, last 3 beds with about 1/3 the price second hand sheet 7.8m long great. star pickets all new none second hand for sale(chinese as well i would assume). they’ll pay for themselves. just think if the rip of merchants with wealth and power grew and sold good quality fresh healthy food that we could all afford then we might not need gardens?
would never use CCA or tyres.
anyhow that my contribution.
lenDecember 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm #529829
Well to throw into the mix of suggestions what we have done.
We have clay, lots of it and while we improved the soil in the bed we still had drainage issues to boot. I lost crops of just about everything over summers past with heavy rain falls.
We have gone the easy way out and probably more expensive but have bought raised tin beds from bunnings and planted them out as no dig beds. We have paved around them using pavers we were given and so far it is working. Uses more water than the beds in the ground so if I could do it again would try to make them wicking beds but thems the breaks. I only have 3 in so far as I also use the groves for planting out peas and pumpkins etc. I use the pea plants as mulch after picking our fill.
Our soil is almost as hard as concrete at the moment with the miniscule amount of rain we’ve had lately so it has been worth it so far this year. Time will tell. I don’t think I get the quantity of veges out of the raised beds that I did from the dug beds though.December 19, 2012 at 2:18 pm #529830
Im on rock and dust,virtually zero topsoil.
I built raised beds out of reject hardwood sleepers using the no dig method.
Lots of cow manure,mushroom compost and cane and lucerne mulch
I went one sleeper high,it got so dry here and I have run out of tank water.
I will need to raise it at least 2 more sleepers high and turn it into wicking beds to have half a chance of growing stuff consistently.
Its not cheapDecember 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm #529831
Lots of good suggestions.
My main reason for raised beds isn’t convenience but better drainage. I’m certainly not looking at going as high as I see some of you folks have gone.
Needing better drainage is not due to my garden but my neighbors. For a variety of reasons they have no working guttering or storm water control. This means that in any sort of rain, all the runoff from their place floods through my vege patch (and under my back deck and into my garage….)and the whole lot vanishes under water. The soil does drain fairly well but short of replacing it with sand, not fast enough.
I’m looking at going around 30-40cm high with solid sides so I can deflect the flow around the beds. Drainage media in the bottom to let flows flow through. That coupled with some serious storm water control at the fence line should protect my long suffering veges.
It will also make it easier to cover the beds with exclusion netting (damned cabbage butterflies) when needed as I can attach hoops to the edges of the beds.
I may well set the beds up as no dig when it comes time to fill them.
DaveDecember 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm #529832
our beds will do all you say about the water, we have set ours up to capture run off water, and put it under ground, so all those aspects are covered, the second hand sheets ar around 140mm narrower so don’t look as tall.
new sheets could be cut down to 1/2 width.
other variables on teh wider thinking plain could be bought in to cut down on star pickets.
lenDecember 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm #529833
Knowing a bit more about your neighbors run off I would capture all there water with a good aggie pipe and /or swale set up and divert it to a tank and overflow. This will increase your water reserve and preserve your veg garden.
In addition I suggest that you talk to them about the issue as I am sure there set up is illegal, who knows they may pay for the work rather than the council and plumbing commission giving them expensive grief!?
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