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How to Build Raised Beds for Next to Nothing

| 6/10/2016 10:42:00 AM

Hand Built Raised Garden Beds

Raised beds can make gardening easy for a number of reasons. They warm up faster in the spring, they are easier to weed and maintain, and they give a garden a nice, organized look. Also, the soil does not get compacted because you do not need to walk on the soil around the plants.

Almost any gardening center or home-improvement warehouse-type store carries raised-bed kits or treated lumber that can be used to build raised beds.

However, one way to have the raised beds you want for next to nothing — or free — is to look for free lumber.

This can be found in a number of places. Some of the best wood for raised beds are old fence boards. Search through community buy-and-sell websites for anyone in your area who is rebuilding a fence and is giving away their old fence boards, or someone who is throwing out scrap lumber from a construction project.

A good size for raised beds is about 12 inches high, 2 or 3 feet deep and about 5 or 6 feet long. As old fence boards are generally around 6 inches wide and 5 or 6 feet long, they are ideal for this project.

2/3/2020 12:41:37 PM

Aren’t most fence boards treated with chemicals to make them weather resistant, which might leach into the soil?

3/20/2019 6:26:52 PM

To nanafromtexas, I used big carpet scraps on the walking paths through my small garden area, but was amazed to see how easily the bermuda grass and also dollar weed crept in and came right up through the carpet. I did not have quite as deep a layer of mulch on it as the 6" you plan to use, but I was totally disappointed by the carpet. It was also impossible to pull up weeds and grass by the roots because the roots were under the carpet. Just a thought from a neighbor to the east, in Louisiana.

3/16/2019 11:29:05 AM

Our son built us a set of 6 raised beds, 12"x8' long and 3' wide. They are set up in 3 sets of 2 beds with walking paths 2' between and around the perimeter. We recycled clean cardboard for the layer next to the ground, then we set the assembled beds on top of this. We then purchased locally shredded bark from our recycling center and made a 6" layer of this on the walking paths and around the perimeter of the garden. We have goat drippings, pecan leaves, and a neighbor's untreated grass clippings, so we composted these for 6 months, turning and watering as needed. We then mixed one part of this completed compost with 2 parts good soil and filled our boxes to within 2" of the tops of boards. When the plants in my garden are about 6" tall, I apply straw around and between them to discourage weeds and retain moisture in Spring and Summer. I purchase this from the farm store. One bale lasts all year. One difficulty we will remedy this year: invasive Bermuda is a problem on the perimeter, so we will scrape to ground level, clear Bermuda, place discarded carpet, backing side up, next to the ground, and cover with 6" mulch. This should deter the Bermuda.

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