Building a Raised Bed

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karstopography
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#21

Post: # 24671Unread post karstopography
Tue Jul 07, 2020 8:38 am

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I have two different types of beds. One is framed with concrete pavers. This size left behind by the previous homeowner (roughly 10”x20”) seems to be hard to find now, but 8” x 16” x 1.5” are available at the big box stores. They cost less than a dollar per paver. So this garden has a lot of amendments plus a lot of the native soil, being closer to the grade or ground level and maybe 4” -5” over grade on average.
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These corners came from the Big River in South America site. 4 run 40 something dollars including the screws. 2” rough western cedar isn’t all cheap, though, but less per foot than the fancy stone kit posted above. I’m in termite country and a high heat and rainfall region so I don’t suppose these will last forever, but they look good so far. Corners haven’t corroded or anything so they will be reusable if the wood one day fails.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#22

Post: # 24672Unread post MsCowpea
Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:17 am

. I will choose my site much more carefully since you mentioned that about trees, since Ive never had a raised bed,

Advice to stay away from trees also has a lot to do with shading of the bed particularly depending on the time of year.

I have a raised bed probably only 10 or 15 feet from a huge gigantic mango tree and I never had any roots grow into the bed that I noticed. I also had a monster ficus tree that came down in a hurricane. Before it went down it sent roots underneath a basketball court and then up into my raised bed next to the court. I pulled out rope-like roots occasionally but it didn’t take over the soil with a mass of roots but I am sure it would have if it was any closer. I have read articles that mention that tree roots potentially steals nutrients. I wasn’t too sad when it was gone even though I love trees even ‘bad’ ones.

On the other side of the garden area, the beds are maybe only 20 feet or so away from
gigantic lychee trees and I haven’t had any issues with roots.

I can’t predict what will happen in your particular situation but you can probably place them where you want as long as they aren’t
right next to the trees but you wouldn’t do that anyway because of the shade they would cast.
I saw a Fl. market gardener (New Port Richey ) video on You tube and a part of his garden was growing right under a big tree. There still was a lot of light as the canopy was high up. He layered compost and then planted in it- no raised beds with sides. He had a phenomenal, stunning garden.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#23

Post: # 24673Unread post eyegrotom
Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:33 am

Hi Marsha check out Northern Tool, they have 6 ft x 3 ft Galvanized raised Bed for $ 60.00 plus right now they have Free shipping on orders over $ 49
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#24

Post: # 24676Unread post MsCowpea
Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:11 am

Karstopography, those pavers really look nice. Like your cedar bed as well. Cedar down here costs a fortune. When I was in California I saw beds built out of redwood but you would need to take out a mortgage to do that in Florida.

Many of my raised beds are now rotten though I did get years of use. Already pulled some of them. On others I just use the rotten wood to still guide me as to where the bed starts and stops. I don’t like doing this but saved us from rebuilding them. I may combine some of the smaller ones into a bigger bed. I would skip sides all together on these big beds but it is so much easier to have something to weedwack against rather than try and keep the grass out of the beds. St Augustine grass creeps into the beds really fast. And climbs over mulch.

((Added: the grass is
actually not going into the raised beds —it is going into the mulched pathways between the raised beds where there is no barrier to weed wack against. A trench barrier like whwoz mentions or something similar would help. It does help to heavily mulch in the area to kill back the grass.))
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Last edited by MsCowpea on Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#25

Post: # 24678Unread post Whwoz
Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:36 am

There is always the option of digging a trench and lining with corrugated iron screwed to timber to stop roots invading. The raised beds that I have here Down Under are formed out of an light Organic solvent treated pine (Sold as Ecopine locally). In places I had tree roots go under them along with Kikiyu and cooch runners so I grabbed some 2 foot 6 wide Iron and cut it it half lengthwise, dug down until iron was roughly 1/2 way down the board and screwed in place. No more runners/roots getting through unless it is right beside the uprights where the fit is not tight.

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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#26

Post: # 24680Unread post SQWIB
Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:40 am

First off my apologies for all the pictures...


For wood your weakest point will be the corners where the screws are. that is why I use wood on the corners and screw them to each other. You can also use something like Karstopography used, I have used aluminum banding in the past with success.

Image

Image



I don't like screwing into the side of the wood so I used some hardware.

Image

I also use side pieces on the outside to pull the boards snug against each other, my theory is any boards on the inside will hold soil and moisture increasing rot time more so than the outside boards, so I try to limit the amount of boards on the inside of the beds.
The capping also adds a bit of protection to the side boards.

Image



Then some stain every 3rd year or so to keep the yard looking neat and more importantly keep the wife happy.

Image


The biggest problem people face with raised beds is filling the bed. This should be the easiest part.
Before the persistent herbicide scare, I would recommend tossing bails of hay in the beds with native soil some yard waste and some peat.



I filled mine with some trees I took out, Mainly the crotch wood because it was too hard to split for firewood.

Image

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Other beds I used whatever wood I could find.

Image

Image

Image

Image

If you start at the end of the season, fill it with your compost materials.

I have been happy with the results so far.

First season with the beds.

Image

Image



2nd season

Image

Image


3rd season

Image

Image

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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#27

Post: # 24708Unread post worth1
Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:46 pm

I never saw a cedar elm when I lived down south.
These are not cedar trees.
When I moved to where I live now there was a raised bed planter thing in the yard.
Had plants it it.
Couldn't keep it watered.
Busted the thing up and it was a massive root hair ball of roots coming up out of the ground.
I have big tubs sunk in the ground.
No drain holes.
I grow water loving plants like elephant ears in them.
Ever now and then one of these tree roots finds its way over the edge and into the tub.
You can fill the tub up with water and it will get sucked out in less than eight hours bone dry.

I thought my tubs had sprung a leak until I raked some leaves back and saw a root about the size of a dime growing over the edge.
Now I go around checking for roots twice a year.
These roots will not bust concrete like s sweet gum tree will.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#28

Post: # 24723Unread post Ginger2778
Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:31 pm

eyegrotom wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 9:33 am
Hi Marsha check out Northern Tool, they have 6 ft x 3 ft Galvanized raised Bed for $ 60.00 plus right now they have Free shipping on orders over $ 49
Thanks for the heads up. They are very reasonable, but DH says he doesn't know how well they will do in Florida over the long haul. I want something about 2 feet high and I think I want 10' X 4'. Do you all think that's a good or bad idea about the 10' length. I actually want to build 3 beds.its a great site, thanks for turning me on to it!
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#29

Post: # 24726Unread post Ginger2778
Tue Jul 07, 2020 2:35 pm

SQWIB wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 10:40 am
First off my apologies for all the pictures...


For wood your weakest point will be the corners where the screws are. that is why I use wood on the corners and screw them to each other. You can also use something like Karstopography used, I have used aluminum banding in the past with success.

Image

Image



I don't like screwing into the side of the wood so I used some hardware.

Image

I also use side pieces on the outside to pull the boards snug against each other, my theory is any boards on the inside will hold soil and moisture increasing rot time more so than the outside boards, so I try to limit the amount of boards on the inside of the beds.
The capping also adds a bit of protection to the side boards.

Image



Then some stain every 3rd year or so to keep the yard looking neat and more importantly keep the wife happy.

Image


The biggest problem people face with raised beds is filling the bed. This should be the easiest part.
Before the persistent herbicide scare, I would recommend tossing bails of hay in the beds with native soil some yard waste and some peat.



I filled mine with some trees I took out, Mainly the crotch wood because it was too hard to split for firewood.

Image

Image



Other beds I used whatever wood I could find.

Image

Image

Image

Image

If you start at the end of the season, fill it with your compost materials.

I have been happy with the results so far.

First season with the beds.

Image

Image



2nd season

Image

Image


3rd season

Image

Image
I wouldn't apologize for all the photos, they are appreciated and I just learned so much from your posting them. Because of you, and others, this thread is fantastic!
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#30

Post: # 24732Unread post eyegrotom
Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:12 pm

@Ginger2778 As long as you can have access from both sides, I think that 4 x 10 foot would work. I have some that are 2 x 8 foot some that are 4 x 4 foot. The one that I made just this year is 42 inches x 90 inches, the reason for that size is the wood I had worked out that way. Most of mine are 12 inches tall with a wire mesh bottom, to keep out the gophers. Mike
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#31

Post: # 24745Unread post Bower
Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:54 pm

If you're building with lumber a 4 foot width is easy to do since standard length for construction is 8 ft. 4 ft is doable in terms of weeding and being able to reach the middle to weed, if you don't mind stretching. I have odd shapes and sizes because of using whatever scraps I had, and some beds are about 5 ft wide, this makes it pretty difficult to reach. Being 2 ft high will make it easier though, vs squatting and stretching. Just in terms of my own comfort I love a bed that's only 3 ft wide, but I'm short and my beds are no more than a foot raised.
Also if building with lumber, 10 ft lengths are easy to get, so if it fits your space, why not a ten foot row. I priced some plank recently, and there was no jump in price for longer lengths, cost about the same if reckoned by the foot. That is for ordinary lumber, YMMV if you go with cedar or another specialty wood.
If you decide to go with stone and if the basic unit length is not exactly a foot, I would tweak my plans to end up with a bit less than 4 ft wide instead of a bit more. Just for the reaching.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#32

Post: # 24746Unread post worth1
Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:17 pm

I'm in the three foot wide club.
I have 5 foot wide beds and they are a pain in the rear.
Get ten foot lumber and trim the ends because I like things square.
Two ten foot boards will get you ends for three raised beds with some scrap you can toss.
Then you can get what ever length you want for the sides.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#33

Post: # 24767Unread post Sue_CT
Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:15 pm

A nice thing about the retaining stones is that instead of sitting on the ground and reaching in, you sit on top of the stone wall and it makes it much easier to reach. I put the cap stones they sell to match on top and it not only fishes the look, it is a nice place to sit.

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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#34

Post: # 24810Unread post Ginger2778
Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:50 am

eyegrotom wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 3:12 pm
@Ginger2778 As long as you can have access from both sides, I think that 4 x 10 foot would work. I have some that are 2 x 8 foot some that are 4 x 4 foot. The one that I made just this year is 42 inches x 90 inches, the reason for that size is the wood I had worked out that way. Most of mine are 12 inches tall with a wire mesh bottom, to keep out the gophers. Mike
I like the idea of the wire mesh very much. Also thanks for the feedback on the size.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#35

Post: # 24812Unread post Ginger2778
Wed Jul 08, 2020 7:56 am

Bower wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:54 pm
If you're building with lumber a 4 foot width is easy to do since standard length for construction is 8 ft. 4 ft is doable in terms of weeding and being able to reach the middle to weed, if you don't mind stretching. I have odd shapes and sizes because of using whatever scraps I had, and some beds are about 5 ft wide, this makes it pretty difficult to reach. Being 2 ft high will make it easier though, vs squatting and stretching. Just in terms of my own comfort I love a bed that's only 3 ft wide, but I'm short and my beds are no more than a foot raised.
Also if building with lumber, 10 ft lengths are easy to get, so if it fits your space, why not a ten foot row. I priced some plank recently, and there was no jump in price for longer lengths, cost about the same if reckoned by the foot. That is for ordinary lumber, YMMV if you go with cedar or another specialty wood.
If you decide to go with stone and if the basic unit length is not exactly a foot, I would tweak my plans to end up with a bit less than 4 ft wide instead of a bit more. Just for the reaching.
We decided not to use lumber because of heat humidity, and nowadays, it even rains a lot in the winter,so rot would happen quickly, within a year. Treated wood wouldn't be a good idea for food.
Good to know about your thoughts on length and width, I'm 5'5" tall, I think I can stretch 4' width as long as I make sure its accessable from both length sides. Do everyone think my height is tall enough to manage 4' wide? Thoughts?
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#36

Post: # 24816Unread post Ginger2778
Wed Jul 08, 2020 8:01 am

worth1 wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:17 pm
I'm in the three foot wide club.
I have 5 foot wide beds and they are a pain in the rear.
Get ten foot lumber and trim the ends because I like things square.
Two ten foot boards will get you ends for three raised beds with some scrap you can toss.
Then you can get what ever length you want for the sides.
Thanks Worth. Not 5' wide, got it.☺ We won't be using lumber, because it won't last too long. Here it's humidity central and lots of rain.
I'm so glad to be getting opinions from all who have lots of experience.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#37

Post: # 24818Unread post Ginger2778
Wed Jul 08, 2020 8:03 am

Sue_CT wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:15 pm
A nice thing about the retaining stones is that instead of sitting on the ground and reaching in, you sit on top of the stone wall and it makes it much easier to reach. I put the cap stones they sell to match on top and it not only fishes the look, it is a nice place to sit.
Great info! I didn't even think about having a place to sit.
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#38

Post: # 24829Unread post KathyDC
Wed Jul 08, 2020 9:13 am

When I first bought my house in 2011 I built a simple raised bed of about 4x4, just with some untreated lumber. Fork up the grass, set down the frame. I used deck screws to put the frame together, so no rusting.

On the bottom, layer weed cloth that I attached onto the frame with a staple gun. Then I put in about 4 different kinds of compost (leaf, mushroom, manure and something else I forget now... maybe kelp). That's it. At the time I was following the square foot gardening method so I sunk screws at intervals on the top of the frame and tied twine in between to create a planting grid. I eventually did away with the planting grid and planted as I pleased. It held up really well until this year when the wood finally started to decay and I took it up.

I very happily grew lots of peppers, lettuces, radishes, onions, even a couple of bushing tomato plants and considering it made it almost 10 years I was pretty happy with it. The only thing I wished from time to time was that it was deeper as it just wouldn't handle things like potatoes or corn - but I had a whole yard to do that in if I had really wanted to, so it wasn't too much of a sacrifice. I eventually made beds in the yard for growing tomatoes when I realized how much fun it was.

It was some effort to put together but nothing you can't do in a weekend. Actually collecting the different kinds of amendments was the most complicated, because around here at least it's not easy to find things other than Leafgro (maybe I just was looking in the wrong places though, this was during my first growing season ever so I was pretty wet behind the ears).
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Last edited by KathyDC on Thu Jul 09, 2020 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#39

Post: # 24833Unread post Bower
Wed Jul 08, 2020 10:02 am

@Ginger2778 I am only 5'3 (and who knows, I may have shrunk some since that measurement was taken :roll: ) and I can manage a 4 ft bed working from both sides. And that's without having it 2 ft high with a ledge you can sit on... I love this idea!! Design for comfort if you can, especially if you're using the durable material. You will be so glad you did, twenty years from now. :)

We have issues here with freeze/thaw effects on concrete or masonry outdoors, which will never be a problem in Florida. My Dad used concrete pavers supported by rebar to make a retaining wall for his planters, and very few of those are still standing. A wall of rock and cement which he built also cracked and moved a surprising distance from where it was made. We have tons of rock lying about here, so I have used free rocks (no cement) to build the raised beds for my perennial herb garden, which can easily be repositioned from time to time as needed. Any stone or brick is a great material for modifying the microenvironment in your beds. It absorbs and releases heat slowly, which means it will help to moderate the soil temperature, making it warmer when cool and cooler when warm. For me, that means tender plants can put their roots down under a sun soaking rock and survive. You will probably want to choose a light color, in your climate, so that it reflects light away and absorbs heat even more slowly. 8-)
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Re: Building a Raised Bed

#40

Post: # 24834Unread post ddsack
Wed Jul 08, 2020 10:03 am

I'm 5'5" tall, I think I can stretch 4' width as long as I make sure its accessable from both length sides. Do everyone think my height is tall enough to manage 4' wide? Thoughts?
You should be fine, I've lost an inch or two of height, but was your height, and I do have rather long arms. My beds are all 4ft across ( either 8 or 12 feet long) and I have no trouble reaching the middle from either side, with a bit of stretch. Three feet would be very nice to work in, but I would feel like I am losing growing space for the given area.
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