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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 using treated timber in raised garden beds is safe. 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 you have room to move around 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 small fruit trees, need a deeper bed than lettuce.
You can grow almost anything in a raised bed, but you want to ensure 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 plant boxes is that the latter has a bottom with an absorbent 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 hammer||wooden stakes|
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.
Ensure 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, considering 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 need to cut the raised bed end pieces. Using a pencil, mark a length of 35.5 inches. Use a framing square to keep 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 positioned, and drive the 18-inch long stakes into the ground. You should go 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 set 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 tying 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; if you’ve grown 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 use raised beds, you might never return to planting in the soil!
Raised garden beds help with managing garden space
Raised garden beds can work in a smaller garden space, often more intensively.
Square foot gardening usually recommends using a raised garden bed and marking off square foot sections.
Each section is managed independently of the others, which is covered in detail in this article 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 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, an excellent plant benefit.
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 gardening||Benefits 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 drainage||These 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 weeds||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.|
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 remember these 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 spend the money you would be spending on soil and purchase the appropriate amendments for your soil type.
It’s easy to see what your soil might need for gardening: 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 massive benefit of gardening in the ground versus within raised garden beds is that the water requirements are often much lower.
A raised bed tends to have much more drainage, so you must keep your plants watered regularly.
In contrast, the ground tends to hold on to water a little better, allowing you to flood 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 it (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 on How To Stake a Raised Garden Bed in 11 Steps
Do I need to line my raised garden bed?
Lining your raised garden bed can be beneficial, and it can help minimize fluctuating temperature changes and prevent ground-dwelling animals from entering your plants. Raised garden beds also help prevent weeds from growing from the pre-existing soil into your raised garden bed.
How tall should I make my raised garden bed?
The height depends entirely on what you plan to grow and if you have any physical limitations. Typically, raised gardens are 6 to 12 inches tall, although they can be much taller. You’ll want to increase your bed’s depth if you plant plants with deep roots, such as tomatoes.
How deep should raised bed stakes be?
The length of the raised garden bed stakes depends on the plants in the bed, and it is best to have it at 8 to 12 inches. However, if plants need drier soil or plan to foster crops and vegetables, it’s safe to have them at 12 to 18 inches.
Should I put rocks in the bottom of my raised garden bed?
Don’t put rocks in the bottom of your raised garden bed; it will hamper the drainage process of the bed and will create an artificial water table. Choose only organic material on the bed bottom, like grass clippings or even half-decomposed compost, which will further break down in your bed.
What is the optimum height or depth of the raised garden beds?
The height of the raised garden bed depends on what type of plant you are planning to foster on said bed. Generally, a minimum height of 6 inches is best for the garden bed, while a foot or deeper is recommended if you plan on growing root crops.
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 bed’s anchor is appropriate to help maintain it and extend its life and usefulness.
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 think of raised bed gardens, read on and learn all the little tips and tricks to get great-looking and productive beds.
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