Mar 23 2004
Raised garden beds are a good solution to many garden problems. They provide excellent drainage and, as a result, drier, warmer soil in spring and a longer growing season.
Raised beds virtually eliminate the likelihood of compaction from foot traffic. Aesthetically, raised beds add strong lines and different heights to the garden, creating visual contrasts. Raised beds have long been an important element of gardening in Asia and in European market gardens.
Although garden magazines typically show raised beds surrounded by timbers or railroad ties, this shoring is an aesthetic feature, not a horticultural requirement. Raised beds can be as simple as low mounds of earth with pathways between them, to ease maintenance.
To build a raised bed, start with level ground that has been double dug. Lay out strings to delineate the beds and the pathways between them. Scoop out soil from the pathway areas and add it to the bed, with organic amendments appropriate for your soil and the types of plants you'll be growing. Mulch the walkways with bark, pine needles, or whatever other material is readily available in your area.