Raised Garden Bed Guide – Planning Your Layout

If you followed my previous post, you will have an idea of whether you want to implement raised bed gardens in your green space. If you are interested in building a raised bed garden, this is the post to read.

I will discuss which location is best suited, the different types of designs I have come across and irrigation layouts for that ideal watering area. Let’s get started!

Photo by Oregon State University

Choosing the Ideal Location

Raised beds absorb heat into the soil, so when considering the ideal spot to build it, you must look for an open, north to south space that will receive ample sun during the daytime hours. You may be required to remove some overhanging vegetation to ensure that the bed receives the heat it requires for your crops to flourish.

Types of Designs

I have come across several designs to choose from, and this can be grouped into design and the material used. The option you can imagine are limitless! Have a look below, and imagine combining some of these designs!

Shape

You can fit a raised garden just about anywhere; it can take any shape you wish it to. If you want to add corners, you must remember that those corners need to supported in the long run so you don’t end up with a bed that topples out halfway through the growing season. The bed needs to support the stress that the soil exerts on it as well as withstand the weather over time. Think of quality of quantity. When you plan this layout, in every step you consider what will improve its structural integrity. Below is a description of the different directions you can construct in.

Square – The traditional square is the easiest to construct and the resources need are uniform. Pair this with a grid pattern within the bed and you’ll be set to plant as many squares as you need for the season.

Wheel – For a rugged look you can shape this bed into pie slices and with a bigger bed, you can have more slices. To have more elegant round design you will require a specifically cut material.

Antique – I know, some of us love antiques! But to leave them out in the weather and let nature take its course is an increasing trend. Have antiques that contain multiple drawers? Utilize them and plant a crop or flower in each unit!

Multi-level or Tiered – If your surface area is limited, build upwards! Create multiple tiers as tall as the building material can handle. This will require some extra research on keeping the structure sturdy. Ask a friend or colleague who is crafty with woodwork to help you out on this one.

Vertical – This works on the same principle as the multi-level design but the difference is you can construct it to stand independently in a pyramid shape.

Green House – This is a really neat design! You have a miniature green house that is protected without having to budget for a greenhouse you can fit in. All you have to do is hinge it on one side and ta da! You can lift it whenever you need to work on your crops.

Corrugated – Nothing beats gathering heat like a thin sheet of corrugated aluminum. If you want to beat your neighbours to the first harvest, this is the design for you!

Counter top – If you are an outdoor person bat don’t have the stamina to work kneeling all day or you would like to some sensitive work on your growing plants, the counter top design will allow you to work from a comfortable height. Simply adjust the height of your raised bed, add the soil and cover with particular sections where you want to plant your crops. Imagine the pipework you can add below to make sure your crops are watered. This is a design that can even be used for aquaponics!

Extra additions

Here is a list of additions you can make to the above mentioned designs to add to your own taste!

Kids size – Ideal for teaching the young ones the ropes of gardening.

Side Fences – Add removable fencing or just keep it to protect against unwanted tramplers.

Legs – Add legs and raise the bed to a height where you and only you can access your plants. For safety of course 😉

Benches – This is the best add on in my opinion. Think about being able to sit among your plants and watch their growth spurt from the sidelines!

Decorations – If you are creative then you can add some light to heavy decorations. After all, it is for your leisure that you are doing this. Add your personality to your green space!

Material

As with the shapes, the materials can be anything you think would hold the soil in place. But that doesn’t mean you lose some incentive to be creative! If you are on a tight budget or have some cash to spare the materials below along with a bit of initiative can be a raised bed in no time!

  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Corrugated sheets
  • Containers (for e.g. crates)
  • Tires
  • Stone
  • Laced branches
  • Logs
  • Masonry
  • Plastic
  • Cinder Blocks

For additional designs, visit Epic Gardening.

Stone Raised Bed. Photo bt Neptuul

Planning Your Irrigation

If you like visual cues on how to construct things I would recommend going on Pinterest. There are dozens of examples where you can gather ideas just by looking at the image alone. I would also appreciate it if you could share this post on your media channels.

There are several types of irrigation methods you can use; here are 3 of them:

Soaker Hoses – These hoses are spread over an area on the top soil; the water perforates through the hose over a low pressure. It drips continuously for a long period as the water leaches into the soil. It is a growing trend that saves water by not spraying a continuous stream of water just in one location.

Drip Irrigation – This is an over the surface, rigid irrigation method. You can protect your pipes from being nipped or accidentally damaged by placing this system above your bed and allow the low pressure water to drip continuously. This design is ideal to use in conjunction with the green house raised bed design. To remove the clutter of pipes, you can hinge Grid Irrigation Layout. Photo by TrafB12the irrigation system along with the top of the green house.

Underground Irrigation – To me, this is the most efficient irrigation system. Roots will be promoted to grow deeper and you have no surface water loss through evaporation. The only snag is that you may damage the underground system when using tools like digging forks. This system will also ensure that your plant roots do not get concentrated at the source of the surface drip areas.

Each of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages. With a budget that allows a combination of these systems, you’ll find the perfect balance in keeping your soil moist.

My favourite design – Railway Sleeper Bed With Benches

This design is ideally my favourite. It allows you to spend some personal time in your green space and sit back and relax as you watch your handiwork! It is also at a height that allows you to comfortably tend to your seedlings and on top of that, you have room below the bed to implement an irrigation system in a tidy manner. You also have several areas to add decorations or accessories that you deem necessary to make your outside hangouts comfortable.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this article! What design do you like the most. What trends have you seen in your region with raised garden beds?

Railway Sleeper Raised Bed by Railway Sleepers

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