If you have some woodworking tools in your garden shed, you could easily build one or many raised beds in your garden, in your backyard, or even in your front yard. They are also called “garden boxes”, and they are an excellent way for urbanites to grow their own veggies with limited space as well as for owners of bigger gardens who like one of their many other advantages.
If you own a normal shed, a garden storage shed or even one of our garden rooms with shed: The gardening season has not yet started, and it is still time to make some plans, buy some timber, and use a sunny day to start building a raised bed.
Some advantages of raised beds at the garden shed
- Raised garden beds are not only easy to work on, but also make the garden around the garden shed look much more tidy.
- Growing delicious veggies or beautiful flowers enjoying the fresh air, sun and pleasure of gardening even in confined urban spaces is possible.
- Longer growth periods. The soil can be built up like in hotbeds. With lots of rotting plant-material in the lowest layer, the rotting process will heat up the soil and you can start the gardening season at the garden shed much earlier than it would be possible on normal soil. Frost blankets for early planting and late harvesting can also easily be used.
- Wooden constructions as well as stonewall constructions can be covered by a foldable roof with a transparent foil. This will allow you to harvest through much of the winter in your raised beds at the garden shed.
- Save your back: no need to get down to the ground for the gardening: With heights up to 80 to 100cm, you can do the work just standing upright at the bed.
- No need to worry about your soil any more. While a solid soil is good to give the garden shed a stable standing, the garden soil has to be grown by continuous composting and mulching. In your raised bed you will be able to use a mix of 1:1 of compost and garden soil, which will suit your plants very well and mulching will provide new food for the soil, give it a shelter from the elements and the cold, and will also prevent herbs from growing.
- Tilling is a thing of the past. While you might have put a lot of effort each year to till the garden soil at the garden shed, this has become more and more obsolete since gardening has started to imitate nature by establishing living soils with different layers of mulch, compost and humus, containing different stages of rotting, all the necessary microorganisms and creatures to maintain the ecosystem and thus can be fed and covered by mulching the surface. That does not mean, you can sort out the spade from the garden shed yet, but the job of bringing the compost to the roots is done by earthworms and other organisms helping to degrade the plant material in which is called “surface-composting”. The plants take what they need out of the compost. Polluting the ground water with an oversupply of nitrate through gardening and agriculture is prevented.
- Of course, you will not walk on your raised beds. There will be walkways between the beds leading to the house and the garden shed. These can even be covered by gravel or paving tiles. The soil in the beds will stay fluffy and soft, just as the plants like it most.
- Fewer weeds, grass, snails, and other unwelcome guests. Think about lining the bottom of the raised bed with some fine mesh wire to prevent voles from getting in. Unlike the so called garden planters which usually have bottoms with a semi-permeable cloth barrier, raised beds usually are open to the ground to allow drainage of rain water, and plant roots to go deep. Seeds from weeds growing around the bed will have a more difficult way into the raised bed than they would have into a ground-level one.
- Nice, clean and neat appearance. A garden with some raised beds in it looks more tidy than a natural garden. Thus, raised beds are also welcome in front yards or community gardens.
What kind of raised bed to build and how?
While all kinds of raised beds make the garden space around the garden shed look more tidy and appealing, some kinds are only 20 to 30cm high, and thus don’t provide the back-saving comfort of the higher ones. While lower raised bed can be easily constructed by just fixing some building blocks to the ground with vertical rebar or by forming the walls with some horizontal logs, higher raised beds have to be constructed from timber or built with stone walls.
Of course, you can choose whatever design fits best to the garden shed. If you want to use timber, choose the right wood species to make your raised bed more resistant against rotting. Larch, Cedar, Redwood and Oak would be suitable species, but these are, of course, not among the cheapest choices. If you can’t afford these more expensive options, you could just use what you can get and treat the timber properly or put a foil to the inside of the wooden walls to prevent them from rotting fast. Usually you will be able to use a raised bed for a period of 8 to 12 years.
Dimensions in smaller spaces like backyards in urban areas are, of course, mainly dictated by the amount of free space around your garden shed that you are willing to afford for a raised bed. If you have more than enough space, you can build very long raised beds. While the height is entirely up to your liking, the width should be around 100 to 120 cm so that you can easily reach the middle from the sides.
For tall and long beds please keep in mind that the soil will push the sides to the outside by its weight. So for beds taller than 45cm and longer than 180cm, we would recommend to build in cross-supports that keep the sides from bending apart. For long beds we would recommend one cross-support every 120 to 160cm depending on how sturdy your timber is. Longer beds have, of course, the advantage to give you a lot of necessary space for planting without wasting too much timber for front- and backsides.
Find your way to easier gardening with a prolonged gardening season at your garden shed with raised beds.