Friday, September 17th, 2010...12:00 am

Lou Manfredini’s Advice about How to Make a Raised Garden Bed

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Our Suburban Garden by SteveSJ76

TheGardenLady has invited people with horticultural interests and expertise to contribute posts to this blog. The following post is about how to build a raised garden bed and was submitted by Lou Manfredini.  Lou is Ace Hardware’s Home Expert.  He is a nationally recognized DIY expert, hosting his own home improvement call-in radio show on WGN Radio in Chicago and a nationally syndicated home show, HouseSmarts. Lou is also the official home improvement expert for NBC’s TODAY Show. To learn about more tips and projects from Lou visit here.

Raised garden beds provide great advantages over traditional gardening areas. For instance, they provide more flexibility to grow flowers or vegetables in spots where the soil or ground is not ideal. With a raised bed, you can control your soil conditions and pick what type is best for what you’re growing, and by keeping your garden off the ground you can keep out pests and wildlife that might see your garden as a delicious lunch.

Ready-made garden beds and containers are available at hardware and home improvement stores, but if you don’t want to spend the money it’s simple to build your own!

First select a location for your garden. You’ll want to pick an area in your yard or deck that gets at least 5-6 hours of sunlight a day for ideal growth of your plants. Use painter’s tape to define and mark off your area. You can choose to make your raised garden bed as long or wide as you like, but make sure you can reach all plants.

Next create the frame for your garden. To build the walls, choose a rot-resistant wood. Depending on your budget, I’d recommend either treated, synthetic, cedar, or redwood 2x4s. Use 3-foot tall vertical boards to make your outer corner posts, then cut your 2x4s to your desired length for each side. Following that, stack the 2×4’s to your desired height. You’ll want your garden to be at least 12” tall, but 16” is even better as it provides more depth for your plants to grow. Once this is complete, use nails or screws to attach the 2x4s to your corner boards. If your walls are particularly long, attach another vertical board that’s sized to be flush with the top edge of the sidewalls in the center as reinforcement.

Once you have your frame built, you’ll want to fill your garden. This is the fun part! To do this, line the container with a landscape fabric along the bottom and up along the sides, then secure with a staple gun. Lay down about 1/2 inch of stone (medium sized crushed rock would work great) on the bottom of the container. This will help with drainage and keep out those pesky voles and other pests. Fill the remainder of the container with a mixture of black dirt, peat moss, and compost. The black dirt should comprise about 80% of your mixture.

Now you are ready to plant your garden! Once this is complete, you will need to protect your plantings. To do so, surround the upper portion of the container with 2-foot tall chicken wire and staple it to the longer corner boards to keep out rabbits, squirrels and even deer. Once you’re done you’ll have a custom raised bed and can garden to your heart’s content.

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