The first detail we will look at is how much room or space we have when we are considering the layout of a raised bed. After having established these facts we can now move on to the next step. A standard size of raised bed is approx 8ft-10ft x 4ft. This is a good sizeable space to begin with and if we can handle raised bed layouts of this size in our first year, we can expand further as we go forward. A suggested width between raised garden beds is about 2-3ft. This will allow room to push a wheelbarrow or perhaps a lawnmower, if we decide to have a grass path in between. My preference is to lay a gravel path between the beds, as this eliminates soil and or muck on our footwear and if done properly will look more aesthetically attractive and very professional.
The frames for these raised bed layouts are available for purchase online and come as a flatpack with sets of easy assembly instructions. If we are anxious to complete the construction of these raised beds ourselves, it is not a very difficult task to achieve. We can source the required timber for these raised beds at any lumber yard or it is available at most garden centres. Treated timber is our best option as the raised bed frame will be exposed to the elements and to all types of weather conditions. We need to be very careful when deciding what type of treated timber we are using for the different beds; whether the bed is for flowers and shrubs or if the bed is to be used for vegetables and salads. Enquire at the garden centre or hardware store and you will always get professional advise about same.
Location of bed:
A good sunny spot is ideal for our raised bed layout, so that we can maximise the benefits of the sun. We need to be close to a water source also, as raised beds tend to need more watering especially during summer or dry periods. We could also locate these raised beds against a south facing, or garage wall and this gives us other options to consider. We now have a partially sheltered or shaded area and if we are growing plants that are climbers or tend to be tall, we have a good structure to erect or attach a trellis. Having a raised bed in an open position is not ideal for tall growing vegetables or plants, as this will lead to all sorts of issues with wind exposure and create headaches for us down the line. Common sense will prevail and we will know ourselves where best to situate these raised beds. If we can orientate these raised beds in an east-west direction, that would leave the main body of the bed facing south and thus gain the optimum benefits of the sun.
What we want to grow:
The type of soil mix which we will use will be dependent on what we want to grow in the raised beds. If the beds are to be used for flowers or shrubs a standard mixture of topsoil will suffice but if we are growing vegetables, then this is entirely a different proposition. We will require a mixture of farmyard manure, compost, peat and a good quality top-soil. This is important to adhere to these steps as we are laying the foundation bed so to speak, we can add additional composted material to these raised beds year on year. Hopefully these guidelines will be helpful for what is certainly one of life’s great pastimes and passions.
Happy gardening to all
Cheers Phil Browne.