How to Build a Raised Garden Bed - Eshelman Mill Gardens
Small Plant in Soil

Garden drainage problems can wreak havoc on your gardening dreams, especially in Lancaster where we tend to have a lot of clay in our soil. A raised garden bed is a creative DIY drainage solution that’s easy to install. In no time, your plants will be thriving.

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We know it’s incredibly frustrating to have a yard that just won’t cooperate. Some plants can handle excess water. In fact, some love it and bloom more lushly. However, other plants don’t cope as well, and pooling water will kill them quickly. A good gardening guide or an expert at your local garden center can tell you if your plant requires wet, moist or dry soil.

Once you’ve chosen your plants, you should investigate soil drainage in the section of your yard where you intend to plant. To test how much water your designated patch of soil will retain, dig a hole approximately ten inches deep. Fill it with water, and come back in about day to see if the water has disappeared. Then, fill it again. After the second time, if the water hasn’t been absorbed in about ten hours, your soil has a low saturation point. When water soaks into that patch of ground, it won’t drain for a long time.

How to Solve Garden Drainage Problems with a Raised Bed

Making a Raised Bed

If you have any plants that require dry soil or good garden drainage, you’ll have to come up with a way to increase drainage in that area. We suggest building a raised garden bed.

Making a raised garden bed includes creating a border for a small bed, using something like cement bricks or boards, at least five inches high. You can also buy kits at local Lancaster home improvement stores or online. Then add enough soil and compost to fill it. Just elevating the bed will improve soil drainage immensely.

Building on Soil

Building a raised bed on an area that’s clear of grass or other plants is easier than building on grass. Your biggest challenge will only be deciding on the.

After you’ve created the walls of your raised garden bed, you must put in the proper amount soil, as well as amendments, like compost. The longer you need to wait to plant your raised bed, you the more soil, rather than compost, you’ll need. The longer you need to wait to plant, the more the contents of your raised garden bed will break down.

Building on Grass

If you’re trying to install a raised bed where sod already exists, you’ll have a slightly more difficult time. You’ll need to cut the sod around the perimeter of where the raised garden bed will go, then flip it over so that the dirt side is up. It’s sounds simple, but you’ll need a spade with a very sharp edge to cut through the sod, not to mention a lot of elbow grease.

Once you have the site’s grass turned upside down, add a layer of straw to discourage grass from growing back. Then simply add all the soil and amendments on top of the straw, filling the bed to the top.

Planting a Raised Garden Bed

Planting flowers or vegetables in your new bed shouldn’t pose much difficulty. Plant everything just as you normally would, but make sure that the plants’ roots don’t reach ground level. The more space between the roots and the ground, the better the garden drainage will be. Another bonus of a raised garden bed? No weeds!

Final Thoughts

Your plants will thrive in your new raised garden bed. The added loose soil and compost allows better root development. At the same time, a raised garden bed prevents evaporation and discourages decomposition. The combination of all of these factors create an ideal environment for almost any plant to grow in.

Although building a raised garden bed can be intimidating at first, it’s a job that’s well worth your efforts.

What have you done to solve your garden drainage problems? Let us know in the comments!

How a Raised Garden Bed Can Solve This Big Problem
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