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How to Build an Ornamental Raised Bed Garden

Updated on December 3, 2012

All I wanted was a raised bed garden in which to grow plants without all that bending down to weed and dig. Grey blocks painted or even unpainted would have done me!

One thing I did stipulate was that I wanted my raised bed garden to be high enough to sit on while working with the earth or with theplants, and finished off with a tiled top that would not only be comfortable, but wide enough to place a cup oftea should I have one to hand.

As the situation where I wanted my raised bed garden to be built is in an area of the garden where I spend a lot of time, it was decided that it should be aesthetically pleasing to look at, as well as practical.

To this end, special ornamental blocks were chosen with coloring that matched the surrounding area.

They did cost twice as much as the old grey blocks, but will need less maintenance in future.

I think it looks great!

My ornamental raised bed garden is almost finished. The top tiles simple need grouting.
My ornamental raised bed garden is almost finished. The top tiles simple need grouting.

How to build an ornamental raised bed garden

First of all, hire a fit young bloke to do the work!!

Mark out where you want your raised bed to go, and he will have to dig foundations all the way round for it.

Then he placed a couple of metal rods lengthways along the holes, and infilled with concrete. The metal rods are to stop over-expansion of the concrete in the summer heat. Here in south of Spain the heat is horrendous.

dig out the foundations all the way round for your raised bed garden
dig out the foundations all the way round for your raised bed garden

Building the blocks

When the concrete had set, he started building the blocks over the concrete base. The centre is left open. You will need drainage so do not concrete the base.

My ornamental raised bed is small - only 3 blocks by 5 blocks, and 3 blocks high. As they are ornamental, you have to be careful that you buy the correct blocks. Corner blocks will need two faces, while the rest only need one.

Each block is cemented into place next to its neighbour, and its hollow center is infilled with cement for added stability, but the final cement finish is left till last.

the ornamental blocks are cemented into place
the ornamental blocks are cemented into place

When all the blocks are in place, the tiles are cut to size and cemented on the top. When the cement has set, it is finished off with tile grout to seal the joins.

The ornamental raised bed garden is now ready for tiling on top
The ornamental raised bed garden is now ready for tiling on top

So, there you have it, easy-peasy (especially when you get someone else to do the building work).

I am getting a second slightly bigger ornamental raised bed garden built, and this time I will ask the builder not to seal off the inside of the blocks with cement.

Cement is alkaline and will seep into the soil, and a lot of plants hate alkaline soils.

One of the main reasons I wanted raised bed gardens is because the soil here is alkaline, and while it perfectly suits the plants I have already growing in the ground, one of the major advantages of raised bed gardens is that you can control the acidity level of the soil you put in them.

Ideally I would want raised bed gardens that are suitable for growing acid-loving plants. Among them include the heathers, rhubarb, rhododendrons, and many others.

the two ornamental raised beds I had built shortly after completion. The one on the right is bigger than the one on the left.
the two ornamental raised beds I had built shortly after completion. The one on the right is bigger than the one on the left. | Source

Filling in with compost

The filling of the raised bed gardens with compost will need to wait a while, as I am making my own compost from grass cuttings, kitchen organic waste and anything else organic that I can find to use - like dog hairs and hedge trimmings.

the same two raised bed gardens later in the season (the grass has grown back) partially filled with garden waste to make compost
the same two raised bed gardens later in the season (the grass has grown back) partially filled with garden waste to make compost | Source

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    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 5 years ago from UK

      Thanks a lot! The ornamental blocks were about a euro each ($1.40) to buy, but of course plain grey breeze-block is about half that price and when built the same way and finished off with cement along the top, is just as functional. Then it can be painted to change its appearance if needed. The making of the compost is necessary too, unless I want to pay a fortune for ready-prepared bagged compost. It'll be ready for planting one day!!

    • RichardPac profile image

      RichardPac 5 years ago from Sunny Florida!

      I love the style of your raised beds! The fact that you are filling with your own compost is even better. Thanks for the detailed pictures, again they look great.

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 5 years ago from UK

      I believe there is a municipal compost available somewhere in my area, but not sure exactly where and someone told me their compost is awful so probably better to make my own, even if it takes a long time. This is one reason I planted grass, for the compost!

    • ChooseHealthyFood profile image

      ChooseHealthyFood 5 years ago from Canada

      yes this is a long term project, isn't it? In Toronto we can get free compost from the city. Check out your area, maybe there are services like this too?

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 5 years ago from UK

      Hi, I've got two of them now, and will post another photo of the two of them. It will be a while before they have plants in them, because I am making my own compost in them - cheaper than buying and I don't want to use the garden soil that is there already. Maybe in a year or two they will be ready for planting.

    • ChooseHealthyFood profile image

      ChooseHealthyFood 5 years ago from Canada

      Wow this raised bed looks like a castle for the plants :) Will you post how it looks like after you plant?

      Very interestng idea

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Yeah well weekend and dentist's appts have kept the worker away. It'll be finished soon I am sure :)

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Izzy, what a great idea, it's going to look fantastic, I'm looking forward to seeing the final pictures.

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      I think this is very true, and I'll be adding the final pic when it is finished :)

    • Diane Lockridge profile image

      Diane Lockridge 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Nice pics, they really add to the article.

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Hehehe! A do-it-yourself article with a difference! I'd have loved to have been able to build it myself, but I am no longer fit enough - guess that's why I need a raised bed garden in the first place!

    • lady rain profile image

      lady rain 6 years ago from Australia

      Great information on building a raised garden bed especially the part where you have to get a young bloke to do it and not break your back trying to build it yourself. It would be nice to have a few of these garden beds in my backyard.

    • IzzyM profile image
      Author

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      @ RTalloni, I will take pics as the next one gets built. Work should start Tuesday. @C.S.Alexis, for what I am paying, it bloody better! @Sophia, yes thank you, it is awesome, I am over the moon. @Deborah-Diane, I hope so too.

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      I love your detailed instructions and the photos to go along with it. This flower bed will look great for years!

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 6 years ago

      Izzy, this is awesome!

    • C.S.Alexis profile image

      C.S.Alexis 6 years ago from NW Indiana

      I should say this raised bed will last a long long time. Great share, looks like something I would enjoy having.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

      It does look great! Hope we get to see your larger one in a hub. :)