A guide to the perfect raised flower bed
Raised flower beds are an attractive addition to your landscaping, convenient to use and the perfect solution for gardens with problem soil.
If your plants currently struggle against clay soil or poor water drainage, raised flower beds are an easy way to combat the problem. If you suffer from weak knees or a bad back, they let you enjoy gardening without the physical strain. And if your outside space is paved or shingled, raised flower beds, just like container gardening, can give you a way to introduce planting without major upheaval.
Making your own raised flower bed planter is surprisingly easy, and has a couple of distinct advantages over buying a pre-made one from your local garden centre. First, you get to decide exactly what size you want it to be - handy if your garden is on the bijou side or you have an awkward space to fill.
Second, you choose the materials - which means you decide on the perfect finish for you, and you can even use up all those off-cuts of wood you've got left over from other projects, making them potentially both environmentally friendly and cost effective.
MAKING YOUR OWN RAISED FLOWER BED
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 2 x wooden planks for the sides
- 2 x wooden planks for the ends
- Wood screws suitable for outdoor use
- An electric drill
Note: raised flower beds should be between 6 and 12 inches high to give your plants adequate space for the roots to grow, so as a guide, the width of your planks needs to fall somewhere in this region. For flowers, the shorter end of this range will usually suffice.
1. If possible, use a flat surface such as a patio, driveway or garage floor.
2. Lay out your planks in a rectangle, exactly how you're going to be fitting them together
3. Take one of your end planks and place it flush against the end of one of your side planks, to form one corner of your planter
5. Using your electric drill, pre-drill holes straight through your end plank and into the end of your side plank - for a six inch high planter one at the top and one at the bottom will be enough, but for anything taller add one in the middle too. (Pre-drilling reduces the chances that the wood will split, and improves the hold of the screw.)
6. Repeat for all four corners of your planter, until you have something resembling flat-pack furniture - four pre-drilled planks with a corresponding screw for each hole
7. Now, using the pre-drilled holes and your drill, screw the planks together, one corner at a time - and your planter is complete!
PEFECT PLACEMENT FOR YOUR RAISED FLOWER BED
Unless your raised flower bed is narrow enough that you can reach the far side easily, consider leaving a little space around it for access. Avoid any area of your garden that sees heavy footfall. When deciding where to place your raised flower bed, choose somewhere that gets a lot of sunshine year round.
Once you've decided where your raised bed is going, you need to prepare the area. This means clearing weeds and preferably any large rocks or stones. If using an area that is currently lawn, you can place your riased bed on top and score around it as a guide to show you exactly where you're going to have to remove turf from.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Some gardeners prefer to line the inside of their raised flower bed with polythene to protect the wood. However, this limits the amount of root space your new plants will have - so if you want to try this, it's advisable to make your flower bed taller than 6 inches to compensate. And don't forget to make a few holes in the polythene for drainage!
FILLING YOUR RAISED FLOWER BED
If your existing soil is on the clay side, there's a good chance you've opted for raised flower beds because they're the perfect solution for associated problems. In that case, you can purchase compost and topsoil here.
If not, you may be able to use soil from other areas of your garden - or mix it with shop bought topsoil to limit your costs. However, be sure to prepare any soil from your garden by removing weeds, stones and small rocks, and breaking up any large clumps first.
Finally, add plant food to give your new plants a head start. And there you have it - the perfect raised flower bed, installed and ready for planting.