Raised beds can be a great way to organise and control healthy plants and it's easier than you might think.
Read our tips below to discover more about filling a raised bed in the UK, from brilliant designs to water techniques and knowing when it's planting season for your produce.
1) Find A Space with Plenty of Light
The first thing to think about when making a raised bed is making sure that the plants - whether vegetable or bedding – have enough light. To grow incredible fruit and vegetables in your raised garden beds, finding a space with plenty of light is essential. Building a raised bed, and getting this right the first time, will save you money and time later on down the line. Putting your bed on top of concrete blocks will also set your organic garden soil up for success.
2) Dimensions - What Can You Fit In?
Mark out where to put the raised bed in a nice sunny spot and ensure that the bed is not really bigger than 1200mm wide and long to ensure that you will be able to access the plants in the middle once they are grown. The height should ideally be more than 150mm and for root crops 300mm is perfect. They should also be around 8-12 inches deep, and if drainage might be an issue, testing how these beds go about holding water would be paramount to your gardening success.
3) Finding Out What To Use
Next is the material or materials you will use to build the bed. You can use railway sleepers for constructing the bed, as they are sturdy and long-lasting. Make sure that the wood is treated against weather and moisture as you would hate for them to rot and crumble over time! Therefore, using wood chips of peat moss might not be as effective.
However, if you want to be more environmentally friendly and go untreated, the type and thickness of the wood make all the difference. Cedar or Larch are perfect. Larch is a wood abundant in the UK and mainly used for pallets. This means it is naturally durable and planks that are at least 5cm thick should last you at least a decade, even untreated.
You can also use recycled plastic. In fact, almost anything can be used as a ‘planter’, so why not get creative! Using grass clippings in your native soil will create fantastic organic matter for your soil and compost pile, ensuring your garden is successful and the gardening process is easier.
4) Build it!
To build the bed, be sure to overlap the planks and use long decking screws. If you have measured out the bed on grass, it might be a good idea to build it on a layer of plastic sheeting or Damp Proof Course/Membrane to stop weeds coming up throughout the growing year.
5) Fill The Bed
So now we are ready to fill the bed. Use a good mix of compost and soil. We recommend our 100% peat-free Beds and Borders Compost mixed in with our Topsoil Supreme. This provides wonderfully rich nutrients as well as a consistency that gives good drainage.
Try a ratio of 2 parts Topsoil Supreme to 1 part 10mm Beds and Borders or Vegetable Compost, as you can always top it up with more compost throughout the year. Our 20mm Compost Mulch, or even a little Cow Compost would work well, adding extra nutrients slowly into the media.
6) What to Plant Together
Most plants can be grown in a raised bed, but it’s important to check which plants grow well together when you're starting your gardening adventure. Each plant will need something slightly different, such as added nutrients.
7 Labour of love
Finally, enjoy your garden. You've put a lot of work into creating and filling your raised bed, so you have to enjoy spending time in your garden and admiring what you've made.