Iain Miller writes:
If you'd like to start growing vegetables, flowers and plants in your allotment or garden and need to integrate some beds, you don't necessarily need a landscape gardener to achieve it. Creating raised beds is a low input method that has fantastic results.
If your garden suffers from poor soil - this could mean that it has a rocky, clay or sand consistency - then raised beds are the perfect solution. This will of course require the purchase of good quality topsoil. Here are some tips to help you create them in your growing space.
What is a Raised Bed?
Raised beds are created on top of your existing ground with minimal digging and soil preparation involved. The new soil is piled up at the desired height, often with wooden sides to contain it in the style of a planter. You can have free standing beds, or use stone that works with the desired theme.
Before you start, a good idea is to look at plenty of images of raised beds to get an idea of the size, height and positioning you want to go for.
Why Raised Beds?
Raised beds are a good solution to difficult soil. Instead of spending months bringing your soil up to a decent standard, raised beds allow you to begin planting instantly. You can tailor the soil to the specific plants you want to grow and ensure that it contains plenty of the right nutrients to give your plants the best start.
The design of raised beds also makes them easy to access and less strenuous to maintain: not so much kneeling and bending! Because they are contained with four sides, plants are easy to reach. Consider this when plotting their size - you want the centre of each bed in reachable distance.
Plotting your beds
The next step is to decide how much of the space in your garden you are willing to use for raised beds. Try marking out the possible size with planks of wood to see if you still have enough space to walk around them comfortably. Also make sure that you can reach into the middle of each bed.
The last thing you want is for your growing space to feel cramped, so thoroughly consider the spacing, and don't position the beds too close to fences, gates or other features.
When positioning the beds, you also need to think about how much sun they will get in those positions. Observe the space throughout the day and ensure that it gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. If you are planting vegetables and fruits then they will need even more. Likewise, do not locate the beds on slopes as this will cause the soil to erode and create a problem with water drainage.
Begin the Build
Now that you have your beds marked out you can begin the build. Turn over the top soil within the area, construct the sidings, then fill your raised bed with quality soil.