As more and more people are living in areas where they have small yards yet want to be able to grow some of their own vegetables and flowers, the idea of raised garden beds is becoming very popular. Even for first-time gardeners, the use of raised garden beds is a very doable idea. While it is true these beds can be very elaborate and expensive; it is also true that easily obtained and relatively inexpensive materials are available. Checking with your local garden store or nursery will show you what materials are used in your area and what are their costs. Items such as soil, nutrients, seeds, plants, and gardening tools must also be factored in when figuring the cost of raised beds. Once a bed has been built, however, it stays usable for as long as you need it, making the initial cost greater by far than using it in the future. This is especially true if you build the raised bed with seasoned-wood or recycled plastic lumber which will not decay with time.
Determining where you will put the raised bed (s) is essential as sun and shade and the availability of a water source must be considered. Once you have determined the location of your raised bed, you need to decide the shape you want and how big it should be. In very small areas, beds can be stacked in decreasing size for easy access. The length of the bed is not important, but the width is. You need to design a shape from which you will be able to maintain the plants by reaching over, not stepping in. Also, if you want to put several beds side by side, you need to leave enough room between the beds to walk easily and maybe even be able to use a wheelbarrow. Rectangular shaped raised beds are the most common but using your imagination can produce a variety of interesting shapes. Specially made corner brackets are used to fit it all together.
One of the most common reasons people choose raised bed gardens aside from small yards is the fact many soils are not suitable for growing plants other than grass, weeds, and trees and shrubs whose roots can play havoc with flowers and vegetables. Too, many soils have too much clay or too much sand and require a great deal of work and special soil to be able to garden successfully. With a raised bed you can buy good quality soil which will last for many years. The soil will be free of weed seeds and rocks so it will take little to make it useable immediately. Adding compost, mulch, and sterilized cow manure makes the soil even more fertile for your growing plants.
Planting is the step you take after you have carefully looked into what you want to plant, and if those particular plants grow well in your area. You will also want to consider if the plants will be perennials and grow year-round or come back each growing season or plants which last only for a season. Combining perennials and annuals usually makes for an interesting garden, be it flowers or vegetables. Some folks plant vegetables and flowers in the same raised bed, using creativity to design a lovely outcome both in color and taste.
Designing, building, and planting a raised bed garden is great fun and will bring much pleasure to those who try it. For many years a raised garden bed can furnish flowers, and vegetables without nearly as much work as a conventional garden but with as much, and maybe even more, success.