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HOW TO ARTICLES
If your yields are disappointing, your garden space isn’t as productive as you’d like, or if you only have a small space to devote to gardening, building a raised bed may be the answer to all of your problems. Raised beds are extremely easy to build. They are great for vegetables and flowers because they allow you to artificially provide substantially more topsoil, which will help plants to thrive and flourish.

STEPS
Plan It
1) -  Visualize and then design the shape of your raised bed.
Luckily, a raised bed doesn’t take much! You basically build an open topped and open bottomed box, and you can do it in any shape that you want. Think of yourself as building a form to pour soil into (like one might pour cement or plaster into a form).

2) - Draw your planned bed,
measure your available garden space, and add the measurements onto your drawing. Now you’ll be able to determine how much material you’ll need to build the bed.

3) - Decide on what you want to make your raised bed out of.
You can use just about anything that will hold dirt. You can use lumber, plastic, synthetic wood, railroad ties, bricks, rocks, or a number of other items to hold the dirt. However, using lumber is generally the easiest and most efficient method. This article will focus on making a raised bed out of lumber or synthetic lumber.

4) - Gather your needed supplies.
A full list of supplies is below under Things You'll Need. All that you really require are sides cut to your desired length and at least 24" (60 cm) in height. If you want a triangular raised bed, you will need three sides. If you want a square bed, you will need four sides of equal length. For a rectangular bed you need four sides, with two of one length and two of another. You get the idea!
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Build It
1) - Connect the sides of your bed together to form the shape of your bed.
If you are using lumber, consider using 4" x 4" (10 cm x 10 cm) posts cut to size to serve as the corners of your bed. Then, you can simply nail or screw your sides into the corner pieces. This method will increase strength and help ensure that your raised bed stays together once dirt is placed in it.

2) - Cut a piece of gardening plastic or weed mat to fit as a footprint to your raised bed.
By putting a barrier down first, you will significantly reduce the amount of weeds that will grow in your bed.

3) - Place your raised bed form over the footprint
(this might take two people, depending on the size of the bed frame and the weight of the supplies used). Make sure to pick a place that will get plenty of sunshine. Remember, your bed will be somewhat permanent, so place it in the best possible location.
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Put It To Use!
1) - Fill with soil.
Once your bed is in its permanent position, fill it with soil. Add some compost-
ed manure into the bottom of the bed and then layer potting soil on top of the
nutrient-rich compost. You can cut costs significantly by using some soil (up
to 50%) from other parts of your property. Plan on filling at least 1/3 of your
raised bed with compost or composted manure (available from nurseries or
garden centers in 40 pound bags).

2) - Mix in dry organic fertilizers (like wood ash, bone meal, and blood meal)
while building your bed. Follow package instructions.3 Decide what you want
to plant and get dirty! Some people like to grow flowers in their raised beds.
Some prefer to grow vegetables. The options are nearly limitless. If you do
want to grow food, raised beds are excellent choices for salad greens, carrots,
onions, radishes, beets, and other root crops.

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Protect It!
1) - To build a miniature organic insect control spring/summer/fall "greenhouse",
add hoops to your raised bed by bending and connecting PVC pipe in an arch over the bed. Put an arch every 4-6 feet (1.2 meters - 1.8 meters).

2) - Then buy a piece of floating row-cover,
also called spun fiber cloth from a garden supply store or online, clip it to the arches, and you’ll have an insect free, moisture conserving, hoop house that you can use to grow food in throughout the growing season.

3) - When the plants in one section become so tall that the cover is no longer practical,
you can uncover that portion, and take the cover all the way to the ground between portions still using the cover. It may seem strange but light, warmth and moisture can all penetrate the cover in sufficient proportions in full sun, but bugs and wind borne weed seeds cannot. Therefore this step can help you reduce your watering, weeding, and pesticide demands.

4) - Add plastic as mentioned below when it becomes too cold
( less than 35 degrees F at night) to convert your raised bed with a pipe frame above to a mini greenhouse.

5) - Uncover plants
when flowers requiring pollination appear or temperatures get above 90 degrees F. Follow the additional guidance according to the Colorado extension service in the link at the bottom of this page.6You can also use the frame to support plastic bird netting to limit, if not eliminate deer damage to your hard won efforts.
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Tips

Consider using 2" x 12" (5 cm x 30.5 cm) pieces of lumber cut to length. If you lay these on their sides and put one on top of another on each side of the bed, your bed’s depth will be roughly 24" (60 cm).

You can either buy potting soil at a garden supply store, dig it up from surrounding areas, or buy it by the truckload from a larger outlet. Do some pricing and decide what is best for you. Store bought potting soil is sterilized and will have no weed seeds, but it can get expensive to purchase in large quantities. If you dig soil from your yard or land there will likely be more weed seeds, but the price will be right.

Be creative when building your raised planting bed. You can construct a great raised bed out of junk lumber, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Raised beds are quite useful and extremely affordable.

To build a miniature greenhouse, add hoops to your raised bed by bending and connecting PVC pipe in an arch over the bed. Put an arch every 4-6 feet (1.2 meters - 1.8 meters). Then buy a piece of greenhouse plastic, clip it to the arches, and you’ll have a hoop house that you can use to grow food in all year.

Building a raised bed with two people is much easier and faster than with one.
Make sure to water your raised bed often. Because it is above ground, your raised bed will not retain water as well as the soil in the ground. It will also help to place your raised bed near a water source—this will make it easy to water all year.

Decorate your raised bed, or even illuminate it, to make it a centerpiece in your yard.

Raised bed gardens should ideally be 2 to 4 feet (60 cm x 1.2 meters) wide. Two (2) feet ( 60 cm) if the gardener only has access to the raised bed from one side, and four (4) feet (1.2 meters) if the gardener can access the raised bed from both sides. It should not be made wider, as the gardener would then need to step into the raised garden (thereby compacting the soil) or might add strain to his or her back.

Keeping raised beds narrow will help with the conservation of water.

Raised beds are easier to reach than rows planted in the ground. If you have trouble leaning down, you can build a raised bed taller, even up to waist height. Just be sure to build strongly enough and water accordingly.
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Warnings
Gardening can be addictive. You might have so much fun in your raised bed that you fill your whole yard with them!

Raised beds are an attractive toilet to cats. If you have any rowdy cats in your neighborhood, consider growing enough catnip to keep them sufficiently sedated.

In some areas, having lumber in contact with the ground increases the risk of termite infestation for nearby wood structures such as homes.

Pressure-treated lumber -- the green-tinted lumber that is often used for outdoor structures -- may contain arsenic which is a deadly poison as well as a carcinogen. Arsenic is released when the wood is sawed or burned, and can be leached out of the wood when the soil is acidic, or in the presence of acid rain. Although it is tempting to use this type of lumber for your raised beds because it lasts years longer, you may want to stick with ordinary lumber, especially for your vegetable beds, and plan on replacing it every three to five years. (NEW Treated lumber no longer contains arsenic. RECYCLED lumber however may contain this chemical. NEW lumber however may contain chemicals unsuitable for gardening)
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Things You'll Need
Forms for your raised bed (Consider using 4" x 4" (10cm x 10cm)
posts cut to 24" (60 cm) in height for corners and 2" x 12"
(5 cm x 30.5 cm) pieces for the sides)
Nails or screws
Hammer or screwdriver
Compost
Soil
Seeds or plant starts
Shovel
Rake
Barrier (plastic liner or similar) to keep weeds out
PVC Piping and greenhouse plastic (optional)
Composted manure (available at nurseries or from farms)
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Related How To Articles
How to host a Green Event
How to Go Green
How to plant your first garden


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Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Construct a Raised Planting Bed. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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