If you are elderly or a disability makes bending and stretching difficult, raising your garden beds can make growing fruit, vegetables and flowers a whole lot easier.
Raised beds can be made from almost anything that will hold soil. The best and some of the cheapest materials are discussed here, so let,s look at Some simple, cheap and safe ways to make raised garden beds
In this article we will look at;
Raised beds can be made from just about any material that will hold soil. Some of the cheapest materials are in fact, the best.
It's a good ideal whatever material you are making your raised bed from to plan to have the top wide enough to form a seat to sit on as you are working on the bed.
Used bricks and breeze blocks are cheap or even free. Breeze blocks lain on there side can make a good cheap raised bed and form a seat to sit and garden from.
Sawn timber is a fairly low cost material for making raised garden beds.
Old planks nailed or screwed around a simple frame of corner stakes that have been well hammered in is cheap and very simple to make.
Any old container that's stable and deep enough to allow space for roots to spread. Potatoes grow and do particularly well in old plastic buckets.
Old pre formed garden ponds are a cheap way to make a raised garden beds. Make sure the liner is set stable on blocks or bricks to get the desired height and drill or hammer a few holes in the bottom for drainage before adding a layer of gravel and then the top soil.
TOP TIP: Hay or straw
bales are interesting and well worth a try. I have included some hay bail garden tips on my page hay bale garden
Old tyres can be used too, two or three car or lorry tyres can be stacked on top of each other making really cheap raised beds to grow vegetables in.
Rubber tyres are particularly good for growing in as they absorb the heat in the morning and radiate it off at night, this helps keep the plants warm and encourage growth.
For stability and safety the tyre stack should be held in place with stakes hammered in around the inside.
Concrete slabs set on end and cemented or secured in the ground, not pretty but If you know anyone who is pulling up an old patio the slabs could be free.
Upturned lawn turf. If you know anyone turning a lawn into a patio or stripping a lawn, ask them for the turf they are removing, they will be pleased to drop it round for you, saves them hiring a skip.
Sleepers look good and are fairly easy to make safe and if fixed on there side, form a seat to work from or rest.
How many sleepers to make a basic raised bed.
Four to form a six foot square about a foot high, would cost £100. Eight to form a two foot high x six foot square raised bed would cost £200 and so on.
Basic instructions about how to construct a sleeper bed further down this page.
Softwood boards. To make a relatively cheap, rustic looking raised bed, you could use pressure-treated softwood boards fixed horizontally onto stakes driven into the ground.
Boards are cheap and won’t need a great deal of skill or strength to construct and can be stained to look attractive and fit with your garden. A bed made from softwood boards is not particularly strong, so the maximum height of the bed should be around 450mm.
Construction tips are further down this page.
The ideal dimensions, that's height, width and length of your raised bed will be determined by what’s best for you. Think about the position you will garden from, standing, kneeling or sitting next to, or on the edge of the bed.
Check that the measurements work for you before building or having the raised bed built for you.
This is how I work out the best height, length and width for you.
Working out the ideal height:
To calculate the best width for you:
To calculating the ideal length:
The beds must be safe to use, if you are building it yourself using concrete or stone, or the height is over 2ft, consider these points:
A raised bed made from railway sleepers is fairly easy to make is strong, long lasting and looks natural.
Sleepers come in 1.8m lengths and work best laid horizontally. They can be placed on their edge or (Best) flat forming seating.
Sleepers are very heavy to handle and fixing requires a certain level of skill, strength and drilling. If you are using reclaimed railway sleepers the tar can be toxic to some plants and can stain clothes and hands. A better option is to use new oak sleepers. Most timber merchants stock them.
Fitting the sleepers together
Quantity of top soil needed to fill the bed explained below.
Don't forget to work out the best height, length and width for you.
This method requires very little skill, is fairly light work and makes a good solid long lasting raised bed.
You may prefer D.I.Y. using self assembly raised garden beds, they usually come complete with stakes and screws and instructions on how to assemble the kit. I have featured a couple here. Whether you choose to build the bed yourself, buy a kit or employ a professional, will depend on your skill and budget. But beds made using stone or brick might be best left to experts unless you have hard landscaping experience.
What soil is best for raised beds.
Improving and keeping raised bed soil in top condition.
When you hoe, rake or fork the soil over add some grit sand and home made garden compost until the texture is how you want it. You might want to consider no dig gardening I have explained how to start here gardening without digging
You won't need to lay weed suppressant fabric, weeds will struggle to grow though a foot of soil. Most weeds are airborne, so will grow on top of the weed suppressant fabric anyway.
If you have a bad back or a disability that stops you bending or getting down low or garden from a wheelchair, building wheelchair accessible raised garden beds, makes it a lot easier to keep on gardening.
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I design and build accessible gardens, incorporating raised garden beds, for elderly gardeners and people who find bending or stretching difficult. Tips and contact details can be found hear Garden design for elderly.