Raised bed gardens are among the most popular types of gardens. They are practical and you can use them to grow many different types of plants (including vegetables). Raised beds are particularly great for those who only have a limited space in their garden.

While most raised gardens are made of wood, it doesn’t have to be like that. Keep in mind that a raised bed garden can be made of other materials, such as bricks. Bricks are particularly great because they are cheap and easy to find. You can find some bricks just by looking around. Bricks and concrete blocks made a great raised bed garden materials. Chances are that you have some unused ones you can take to make a great raised bed garden.

Benefits of a Raised Bed Garden

Here are some of the main benefits of a raised bed garden. They truly improve gardening in so many ways. The biggest advantages to raised beds are:

• Easier maintenance. No tilling is required for a raised bed, and there’s no soil compaction from stepping on the soil.

Easy to get rid of weed. Keeping weeds away with a raised bed garden is a breeze.

Easy to work with. If you have a raised bed garden, you can work easily, since it doesn’t require you to bend over.

You can build your own soil. Building your own soil and implementing it for specific types of plants is a breeze with raised bed gardens.

Warm soil. The soil in a raised bed garden warms earlier in the spring and it stays warm in the fall longer.

It’s clear raised bed gardening offers numerous advantages you can use to improve your garden. However, it should also be noted that it brings some disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that they need to be built. In other words, you need to invest some money into the materials and some time into building raised beds. The good news is that the materials are typically cheap and raised beds are easy to build, so this isn’t much of a downside.

Another potential downside is that raised beds typically require more watering, but it’s not much of a problem if you remember to water regularly.

Building a Raised Bed Garden

Building a raised bed garden is not difficult. The first thing is to decide on the material. It’s important to know that there are many ways to build a raised bed garden. If you have a lot of money, you may choose red cedar or stone. Many people opt for wood, particularly pressure treated lumber. The choice of a material is largely personal, and it will depend on your personal preferences and how much you want to invest in a raised bed garden.

In fact, you can even build a raised bed garden for free, if you pile the dirt into mounds. Many people who have flower gardens use railroad ties, though this is potentially problematic, because of the chemicals leaching into the soil.

Another great way to go is to use concrete blocks. They actually offer numerous advantages and they provide a cheap, reliable option for building raised beds.

The main advantages of using concrete blocks are:

Free and easy to find. You can get concrete blocks for free (or for a very cheap price), and you can get them from various places. Try behind barns, vacant lots and many other random places.
Easily adaptable. You can make almost anything with them. These blocks can easily form hoop houses, screen plants, and more.
Concrete blocks provide a great, wide platform you can use in many different ways. You can use them to sit on them to plant, weed, and water, so they make your work easier.

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Constructing

Before you start, you need to choose an appropriate time to build your concrete block raised beds. It’s best to do it well before spring, so you have them ready for spring action when the time comes.

To start making your raised bed, the first thing you need to do is to dig out dirt for the first row of concrete blocks. This will make them sit in the ground, which is important because it will help stabilize the whole bed. It may not be necessary (it does take more time and more concrete blocks), but it does add with the stability.

If you don’t want to do this, then maybe you can build low raised beds using just one row of blocks (so they are only one block tall). These short blocks are equally efficient and they are stable on their own so you may not need to dig up a hole to stabilize the blocks.

To build your raised bed, all you need to do is to simply arrange the blocks around the area you wish to use as a bed. You may go with one or two rows of blocks, depending on your needs and preferences. The blocks will provide a strong, sturdy base for the soil and your plants to grow.

Adding the Soil

Another thing you need to think about when building a raised bed is the soil. In so many ways, it is the most important thing to think about, because your plants will have to grow in the soil, so your goal is to make it as healthy as possible.

Since raised beds allow you to add any kind of soil you want, it’s important to make a mixture your chosen plants will enjoy. Everyone has their own, favorite mixture. For example, you can mix the soil (you may use the one you previously dug out) with compost, screened loam and some manure. The manure doesn’t have a nice smell but it does help your plants a lot, so you should consider it.

It’s best to mix the ingredients in equal amount and place it inside of the raised bed. Once you have made your mixture and put it inside of the bed, you may add some mulch. In case the height of the soil is too big, you may consider adding some new blocks to cap the walls.

When the time comes, you can use your raised bed freely to plant your vegetables, flowering plants and other plants you wish to grow.

Additional Ideas

Here are some additional ideas for your raised bed garden:

• Concrete blocks have holes in them. Consider filling these holes with soil so you can use them to grow strawberries.
• The holes will also wick some of the water. Line the inside walls with plastic to prevent this from happening. You should hold the plastic down by the resting the top under flat, seating capstones. Cut the plastic at the walls base. Make sure to never run the plastic under the bottom of the bed – it has to have good drainage.
• To ensure super stability of your raised bed, you can drive rebar inside the block holes and back fill it with gravel.

Photo credit: Beedle Um Bum via photopin cc

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