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How To Stake a Raised Garden Bed in 11 Steps

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Raised beds are convenient for gardeners, and when I decided to add some planting areas to my yard, I decided to make two raised beds. A little research goes a long way, and I learned how to stake a raised garden bed to keep it secure.

Staking a raised garden bed involves driving stakes into the corners of the bed to keep the box secure.  The stakes support the raised garden bedsides and help keep the garden bed from slipping, which is essential if you install it with an incline.

There are many benefits to raised bed gardening, and why staking them can be important for areas with sharper inclines and elevations. More of that will be discussed in the following sections.

What Is a Raised Garden Bed?

A raised garden bed is a general term used to describe a garden bed constructed on top of the existing soil. They were first noted in 300 BC by people living in the Andes mountains of South America, and their popularity has only grown with time.

Raised garden beds typically have a frame that delineates them from their surroundings.

The raised garden bed is designed to sit at least several inches high, although some people utilize them at much higher intervals, such as waist height.

Raised garden bed design considerations

While traditional raised beds are designed with wooden frames, many people move towards other materials that can last even longer. These materials include stones, cinder blocks, and even sturdy plastic.

Raised garden bed material

When you make a raised garden bed, you can use just any material you can imagine. This helps your raised garden bed blend in with your style and landscape, such as reclaimed wood.

I always get asked whether it is safe to use treated timber in raised garden beds. Well, this depends, and there is a lot to consider. That is why I wrote this article about the subject in much more depth.

Don’t worry about the need to make everything from scratch, though. You can also purchase pre-designed raised bed kits that allow you to get up and run in a couple of hours or even less.

Raised garden bed sizing

When designing a raised garden bed, you want to ensure that you have room to move around it rather than walk in it.

This leads to one of the many advantages of gardening in a raised bed: the soil is not compacted by people (or pets!) walking on it, so the soil stays nice and loose.

Raised beds can be as large as you want them to be, but most people limit them to about 4 feet wide, which is often just the size you can reach from either side. That way, you don’t have to step on the soil inside.

Another factor is should a raised garden bed have a bottom to it. This may sound strange, but there are times that this is of great benefit, and I cover it in much more detail in this article I wrote recently. If you always wondered why you should or shouldn’t use a bottom, check it out.

Raised garden bed soil and depth

There is also a lot of flexibility in the depth of the raised garden bed. Plants that need a lot of soil with deep roots, such as tomatoes or even small fruit trees, need a deeper bed than lettuce.

You can grow just about anything in a raised bed, but you want to ensure that you use the correct soil type. Typically topsoil is too heavy for a raised garden bed, so you’ll want to consider either amendment to make it lighter, such as vermiculite, or sticking with a bagged raised bed soil.

Raised garden beds and their difference from planting boxes

Raised garden beds are sometimes also known as planting boxes.

The main difference between raised garden beds to planting boxes is that the latter has a bottom with a permeable layer, such as slats or fabric lining the base, allowing water to drain out.

The plants you put in the planting boxes cannot grow down into the existing soil, limiting how big they get. In contrast, a traditional raised bed is typically just placed over the pre-existing soil, so the roots of the plants can grow deeper, allowing the plants to get bigger.

Regardless of what you choose to call it, you can put your planting box on your legs, allowing you to reach your plants even more accessible than just a raised bed itself. No stooping is required!

How to Stake and Build a Raised Garden Bed

To create the raised garden bed, you will need the following:

material of the raised garden bed (wood, if need be)pencil and ruler
rubber mallet or hammerwooden stakes
drillscrews

Now that you know what a raised garden bed is, it’s time to set one up.

1. Evaluate the area

Start by evaluating where you’re planning to establish a raised garden bed. Ideally, you want the area to be flat, so consider leveling the ground before building your raised bed.

2. Choose your raised garden bed material

Determine what material you want to construct your raised garden bed out of. Wood tends to be a popular choice.

Make sure you get enough wood to make stakes for the sides of the garden bed. Typically 1 inch by 2 inches or 2 inches by 2 inches pieces of wood is used to make stakes.

3. Consider the size of your raised garden bed and cut the pieces to form it

Decide how large you want your raised garden beds to be, keeping in mind that you usually don’t want them wider than 4 feet.

For example, you could construct a raised garden bed 3 feet wide and 12 feet long using 2x12x12 inch boards.

You’ll use an entire board for each side of the bed, but you’ll need to cut the raised bed end pieces. Using a pencil, mark a length of 35.5 inches. Use a framing square to mark your cut, and remember to measure twice so you only have to cut once. Cut your wooden end pieces with a circular saw.

4. Cut the wooden stakes into their proper sizes

Cut wooden stakes 2 inches by 18 inches. This gives you room to drive the stakes into the ground.

It would be best if you made a tapered end on the stakes to facilitate installing them on the insides of your raised garden bed. (They’re also handy if you have vampires nearby.)

5. Drill the holes of said wooden pieces

Once you have each of your wooden pieces laid out, it’s time to drill holes into the side pieces; rather than nail holes, which can split the wood, use a 1/8-inch drill bit to make holes in each side piece.

Attach the side pieces to the end pieces using 3-inch long galvanized wood screws. Repeat this process for each side.

6. Place the stakes in and onto the ground

Ensure your raised garden bed is in position, and drive the 18-inch long stakes into the ground. You should drive at least one stake into each corner.

If you have a long raised garden bed, such as this hypothetical 12-foot-long bed, consider placing a stake in the middle of each side piece for extra security.

Use a rubber mallet to drive the stakes into place. You will want to place the stakes even on the top of the bed.

7. Secure the said stakes to the garden bed

Once your stakes have been placed, it’s time to secure the raised garden bed to the stakes. Attach them using 2-inch-long screws. Ideally, you will drill two holes and place two screws at least 3 inches apart.

Now you have anchored your garden bed to help make sure it doesn’t slip on uneven ground or move as you put soil into the garden beds.

8. Consider securing the sides of the garden bed to another set of stakes

You can also consider using more enormous wooden stakes and securing the sides of your raised garden bed directly to the stakes.

9. Place the soil material into your raised garden bed

Now it’s time to fill your raised garden beds. Use a soil mix designed for raised garden beds for best results.

While filling your beds, consider adding any amendments, such as compost, that you plan to put in your garden.

Try not to use any material that may have been contaminated with weed seeds, as a sterile soil mix will lengthen your time before weeding your garden.

10. Begin planting in your raised bed garden

Once your raised garden beds have been adequately filled with soil and the ambient temperatures are appropriate for your plants, you are ready to begin planting.

Consider square-foot gardening practices, mainly adequate with raised garden beds, to maximize your growth. Utilizing square-foot gardening will also help prevent many weeds from growing as you optimize the garden bed with the plants you want to grow.

11. Enjoy your plants and future harvests!

If you’ve planted flowers, enjoy your landscaping, and if you’ve planted vegetables or fruit, enjoy your harvest. You’ve worked hard and earned it!

Benefits of a Raised Garden Bed

There are many benefits to using a raised garden bed over planting directly in the soil. If you elect to use raised beds, you might never return to planting in the soil!

Raised garden beds help with managing garden space

Raised garden beds can manage a smaller garden space, often more intensively.

Square foot gardening usually recommends using a raised garden bed and marking off square foot sections.

Each of these sections is managed independently of the others, and more about this is covered in detail in this article that I wrote on square-foot gardening. This article will teach you all the fundamentals of square-foot gardening.

While you can plant one tomato plant in each space, you could consider planting many carrots if your raised garden bed is deep enough.

  • When you plant in a raised garden bed, you can garden in areas that you might not have considered conducive to planting previously.
  • Beds can be constructed on parking lots or even in compacted soil that you can’t readily break up (or how about on thick clay that you’d have to do significant tilling and add many amendments to make it habitable for your plants).
  • You can build and secure your raised garden beds with stakes and plant on steep slopes, which was how the beds came into being in the Andes Mountains thousands of years ago.

Let us move on to the soil-related benefits of doing raised bed gardening.

Raised garden beds do wonders for the soil, which is an excellent benefit for the plants.

The soil is one main factor in fostering a healthy plant. The table below will cover the specific benefits raised bed gardening can do to the plant regarding the soil.

Soil property boosted through Raised bed gardeningBenefits to the soil and plant when doing Raised bed gardening
Warmer soil during springtime. When you use a raised garden bed, the soil tends to warm up more readily in the springtime, which can help extend your growing season.
Better soil drainageThese beds also tend to drain better if the soil has been adequately prepared, promoting better plant growth conditions.
Many plants are susceptible to damage if their roots become waterlogged, so you’re encouraging healthy plants with a longer growing season by using raised garden beds.
Soil does not get compacted.One of the main benefits of using a raised garden bed is that the soil is not compacted by people walking on it. Children and even pets can be shown to avoid a well-designed bed rather than accidentally stepping in it. This allows the soil to maintain its structure and be better aerated. In addition, your plants are less likely to be damaged.
Less likely to deal with weedsUsing a sterile soil mix in your raised garden bed makes you less likely to deal with weeds, particularly at the outset. You don’t generally need to till the soil because it has stabilized and isn’t compacted.
By not turning the soil over repeatedly, you’re lessening the odds of encouraging weed growth, which can happen as seeds disperse into the soil over time. Regular weeding and proper mulching will also help cut down on weed growth significantly compared to planting directly in the soil.

Raised garden beds can allow you to tailor the soil specifically to the needs of your plants. Rather than waste soil amendments such as compost or fertilizer, you can better manage your plant’s needs and often significantly reduce waste, which is better overall for the environment.

Raised garden beds help people garden with more ease

Gardeners with disabilities often have an easier time gardening with raised garden beds, mainly if they are built at an appropriate height.

They may minimize a gardener needing to bend over to weed or harvest plants, and they can be constructed tall enough for wheelchair users to access their gardens.

As a final bonus, in areas where plots may be assigned or leased to individuals for a set period, using raised garden beds better defines the plotlines. They can be accommodating in teaching children to garden in schools or communities.

Limitations When Making a Raised Garden Bed

While there are many advantages to using a raised garden bed, there are some limitations. It would help to keep these in mind when weighing the benefits of designing and staking your raised garden bed.

The soil for raised bed gardening needs significant consideration

When you use a raised bed, you generally have to start over from scratch with your soil, which may mean buying said soil. When you use your in-ground gardening beds, you’re using the soil you already have on hand, which can save you significant amounts of money and present a financially economical solution.

We might say that the earth has the spirit of growth; that its flesh is the soil.

Leonardo da Vinci

You can put the money you would be spending on soil and purchase the appropriate amendments for your particular soil type.

It’s easy to see what your soil might need for your particular gardening purposes: submit soil samples to your local County Extension office. Some stores even have simple tests you can use at home to determine factors such as the pH, which is essential for plants like blueberries that need acidic soils, while others prefer more alkaline soil.

The water requirements for raised bed gardening need a bit more effort

Another huge benefit of gardening in the ground versus within raised garden beds is that the water requirements are often much lower.

There tends to be much more drainage with a raised bed, so you must keep your plants watered regularly.

In contrast, the ground tends to hold on to water a little better, allowing you to water less frequently, particularly in hot areas.

Along those same lines, it can be easier to construct an irrigation system for an in-ground garden bed than for a raised garden bed because the in-ground system is generally flat. Consider your plants’ water requirements carefully when planning a raised garden bed.

The raised bed-making process and positioning can be taxing if many are to be made.

Some people find that using in-ground beds takes much less work than constructing and filling a raised bed, especially gardening in a large area. You can prepare the ground with a tractor or rototiller readily.

With a raised garden bed, you usually have to build the bed (even if you’ve purchased a kit), position it appropriately, stake it into the ground and fill it with soil.

Another convenient feature is that they’re not necessarily permanent when you use an in-ground garden. You aren’t going to move your raised garden bed readily, but you can always tell another area of your property with a rototiller and go about setting up a new garden.

Just fill the old one in with grass or cover it in decorative mulch until you’re ready to use it again.

FAQs

Conclusion on how to stake a raised garden bed

Utilizing a raised garden bed is helpful for many reasons, such as elevating your garden, so you don’t have to bend over or kneel to access the garden. When building it, ensure that the anchor of the bed is properly to help maintain it and extend its life and usefulness.

In line with this, if you decide to make a raised bed garden, you can grow many crops, spanning tomatoes, onions, and even potatoes. More of that is detailed in this article on raised vegetable gardens. If you are thinking of raised bed gardens, then read on and learn all the little tips and tricks to get great-looking and productive beds.

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