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Raised garden beds are my preferred way to garden

Updated on April 18, 2016
CherylsArt profile image

Cheryl Paton has transitioned into being a vegetarian, and sometimes more vegan. She appreciates vegetarian recipes and her garden.

I grew up with the idea of gardening.

My mother had been raised on a farm, and over the years I saw our small backyard transform from a place where the dogs ran, to a sea of vegetable plants. Whether we wanted to or not, me and my siblings had to help with the garden.

I think part of me must have liked it overall, as pretty much every house that I've lived in since I had gotten married, I have had a garden of some type.

I started out with small patches in our back yards, with plants that I planted directly into the ground. Some plants did better than others, and sometimes I gave up on it.

But then lo and behold, when we moved, I eventually tried another gardening idea.

When we moved into our current house, there was a shared garden area in the lot behind our house. Wow, a whole area where I could plant rows of vegetables. I was excited, and tried new vegetables to grow. I enjoyed working in this larger plot, but it was eventually sold and the new people has a house built there instead.

I was at a loss for a bit, and built my first raised garden bed. I built a square out of wood. It didn't take long for the pests to visit though, and I ended up digging it up.

But the gardening bug was still there.

My first purchased raised garden bed.

My first tiered garden bed from a kit.
My first tiered garden bed from a kit. | Source

It began with an ordinary shopping trip.

I was at Lowe's one day browsing through their garden area, when I saw a kit of a raised garden bed. Wow, it was two levels, and made of resin. It wouldn't attract the insects like the wooden one had. My heart sang.

What is your raised garden experience?

Have you used a tiered garden bed yet?

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I made use of the oval planting area that I had already installed.

A tree used to be there, and then it became the bird garden. I had bird feeders there and whatever seeds dropped from the feeders grew. The birds enjoyed it, but I wanted to grow something other than whatever the birds didn't eat.

After my shopping trip, I measured my oval space. Yes! The tiered garden bed kit would fit.

I commenced to weed pulling and purchased my first kit.

Success!

  1. My plants were raised up off of the ground, so I didn't have to bend as far, or kneel to garden anymore!
  2. There were less insect problems with having the raised beds than when I gardened in the ground level soil.
  3. The soil was easier to work with since it was all installed fresh.
  4. It was easier to grow larger items and also items that required a deeper root area.
  5. I felt like I had a lot more options and it was easier.

A year later, I added another tiered garden kit.

Source

These are the tools and steps that I used to build my garden kit.

The first step is to prepare the space. The Suncast company recommends that the gardener dig and till the soil to a depth of 16 inches below where the kit will be installed.

I didn't want to do that much digging. It was enough for me to remove the weeds and the grass down to the roots.

I used the rounder edged shovel to remove the sod. It's easier to dig with a bit of a sharper edge that it provided.

I used the square edged shovel to trim the rounded edges of soil left by the rounded shovel. This helped to get a better fit of the panels when it came time to put them together.

Once the sod is removed, you get to put the first two long panels together with a corner attachment. Wacking the corner with the palm of my hand was pretty sufficient for getting these pieces together.

Once the first corner was made, I placed it in the various corners of the dug out area to see how level it sat. I placed the level across the unit on the diagonal, in all four corners, and did any deepening and/or widening of the dug out area, as necessary.

Once the area is ready and level, I commenced to following the rest of the steps that are provided by Suncast.

Some of the panels went together easier than others. If any dirt had gotten on the edges where the panels slide together, I had to resort to some extra help. This is when I used the mallet.

I didn't have a rubber mallet on hand, so I used what I had. I had a heavy duty mallet, and placed a scrap piece of wood on the end of the panel that needed some extra pressure, to protect the end of it. I then hammered on the wood, to help the two panel pieces slide together.

I continued followed the instructions for assembling the garden bed unit. Part of the steps involves installing the anchors to help hold the unit in place as you continue to build it. I found that it still had some flexibility as I added the remaining panels and corners.

Once the unit was completely built, then I checked the level again, and added or removed any soil as needed to level the unit.


Recommended tools

Type of tool
Used for
Type of step
Rounded shovel
Digging and clearing the soil.
Preparation
Squared shovel
Evening and smoothing edges.
Preparation
Rubber Mallet or mallet and wood
To help slide panels together.
Installation
Level
To test the level of the panels.
Installation
See the next section for more detailed information.

Tools I used for building my tiered garden kit.

Rounded shovel, squared shovel, level, mallet and scrap wood.
Rounded shovel, squared shovel, level, mallet and scrap wood. | Source

Steps in a nutshell.

  1. Gather your tools.
  2. Prepare the area by removing sod, and tilling soil if desired. It helps if you want a deeper area for root plants.
  3. Build the unit following the manufacturer's instructions, and level it as you go.
  4. Add your favorite garden soil.
  5. Plants your plants and/or seeds and water as needed.
  6. Enjoy your harvest.

My garden has grown over the years.

When I built my first kit, I had no idea that my garden would grow to four units in a few years. But in 2014, I took the plunge and added two more garden kits. I also enclosed the area with fencing to protect it from deer and such.

I'm pretty satisfied with the gardening space, and feel like it is its own outdoor room.


My garden area has grown.

There are four tiered garden beds in my garden area now.
There are four tiered garden beds in my garden area now. | Source

Do you have a tiered garden yet? What is your favorite vegetable to grow?

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    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 2 years ago from West Virginia

      Loree, you're welcome.

    • profile image

      Loree 2 years ago

      This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for writnig!

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 2 years ago from West Virginia

      RTalloni, It is a process, isn't it. I did find it easier starting with just one or two until I got more accustomed to gardening. You are very welcome. : )

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

      Seeing how you've expanded your raised garden is inspiring. We've begun to move that direction, but have a long way to go yet. Thanks for sharing your process!

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 2 years ago from West Virginia

      colorfulone, you are so right. It is pretty convenient to build a raised bed in a specific location with these kits.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Cheryl, this is a helpful hub. I love the idea of raised gardening, it saves on the back. Plus, it is so much easier to put in a garden area wherever you want.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 2 years ago from West Virginia

      savateuse, sounds like a wonderful project. It's so nice to have your own special place for your herbs.

    • savateuse profile image

      savateuse 2 years ago

      I'd love to make a raised garden, maybe for herbs. Perhaps that's a project for next spring.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Happyboomernurse, Thank you. Ah yes, adding fresh soil to the raised beds makes it so much easier to work with. The tiered beds requires even less bending.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 3 years ago from South Carolina

      Well written hub with specific instructions.

      I have a raised flower garden which does make it easier to care for and I think it looks very nice.

      Have never tried to do tiers but I like the concept and may do so in the future.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Tony, that does sound like a good solution. You've got some variety and quantity.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 3 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Selling the fresh herbs might be a good idea. We don't really have farmers markets here, but we do have several farm shops that sell vegetables, and also a very popular local butchers at a farm.

      Shame we had to chop our Bay tree down, but we do have some young ones sprouting, and we have loads of Rosemary growing too.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      MariaMontgomery, Glad to have provided that extra bit of incentive. Enjoy. : )

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      I've been thinking of making a raised bed for my little herb garden. Now, you have convinced me that's what I should do. Thanks. Now I have to go get busy...

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Tony, it's amazing how big some of those herb plants can grow. You can probably set up a stand at a Farmers Market if you like, and sell the sage fresh.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 3 years ago from Southampton, UK

      You should see the Sage in our herb garden. It's grown over 5 years into a huge bush. The leaves are great with chicken. Always seems a shame to let so many go to waste though, I often thought of drying our own herbs, but then unless you are going to sell or give them away, why bother when you can use fresh ones.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Lady Guinevere, raised gardens are great too. Some people build the tiered gardens as separate raised gardens. Building a deeper level just gives one a better option for planting the deeper route vegetables and such, like carrots. Some veggies I've had better success with than others. Next year, if I plant tomatoes, it will definitely be a smaller variety. : )

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

      I have not used a tiered one yet. I do have raised gardens though as that is the only way we can have some of our very own homegrown vegetables. Our has been a hit and miss from year to year.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      billybuc, Haha, it has grown hasn't it. When I first started with one, I thought that would be enough. I'm glad that it has grown gradually though. I know better now about planning that when I first started.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      We started out with five herbs....it has gotten out of control. LOL I love gardening, but more I love sustainable living, which we are practicing...and I agree with the raised garden beds....all of ours are raised.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      ecogranny, You are welcome. Glad to oblige.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for the tutorial. I have to get my gardening fix by walking in parks and reading about gardening these days. I appreciate your sharing your love of growing food.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      SusanDeppner, isn't it amazing how we want to expand them once we find something we like! Cherry tomatoes sound like a good idea. I had planted a beef steak tomato this year, and it was way to heavy. I had it in a flower pot until after I got the new kits built. It kept falling over. Next year I think I'll go with the cherry tomatoes. Just grab a few and enjoy.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      mumsgather, hope someday you can have the space that you'd like. Sometimes pots will have to do.

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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      TonyPayne, Wow, badgers would be something. It's a good thing that you like the badgers. Yes, so many are made out of different materials. My first one ever was made out of wood. I found out that I prefer the resin ones.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      favored, you''re welcome. I've seen them positioned in different ways and have also read about them made as two lower ones instead of having it being tiered. I'm sure they are pretty with flowers in them! : )

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      We bought and set up a raised garden kit last year, so this was our second year to use it. I love having it so contained and, while I almost didn't plant anything this year, now I'm thinking about doubling the size next year and getting more serious about the choice of crops. This year we enjoyed fresh cherry tomatoes almost daily, tomatoes that had flavor and tasted "real." A true pleasure! Love your pictures - very inspirational!

    • profile image

      mumsgather 3 years ago

      Your raised garden bed is so lovely. I wish I could have something like that. I don't have much of a garden and I have space only for a few potted plants.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 3 years ago from Southampton, UK

      These look great and they are so much better in the right garden.

      I had raised beds when I lived in Indiana, but they were built of railway sleepers that had seen better days, the rot and termites had caused them to fall apart.

      The sleepers are nice when new, bricks are nicer, but expensive and need to be kept clean of soil and growth to make them stay nice.

      Our current garden has heavy clay soil, and several of the beds would be better if raised. Unfortunately one fo them is used by a family of badgers as a toilet area, they dig large holes every night and mess in them. We don't mind the badgers, so for now at least we can't plant anything there because it will get trampled on.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I agree, raised gardens are such a help and they look great everywhere. Although I have mainly used them for flower beds, they work well for herbs. Reading through your article gives me even more ideas. Thanks.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Homeplace Series, You are very welcome. Hopefully I'll get to see photos of your plans completed. : )

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I made some nice plans, a while back, but always something in the way of getting it done. Thanks for the new encouragement! ;-)

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Thank you Sandy. It took quite a bit of work to get them all built and to install the fence. So glad it's done. : )

    • ReviewsfromSandy profile image

      Sandy Mertens 3 years ago from Wisconsin

      You have done a nice job on the garden beds.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Pam, it sounds cool that you can garden year round. : )

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 3 years ago from Land of Aloha

      We're planning to do more gardening year round now. I think the raised garden bed will be tied into ours as well. Enjoyed reading your page!

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Elsie, that makes a lot of sense to have a raised bed where you are. Thank you so much.

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 3 years ago from New Zealand

      Most of my gardens are raised as we get a lot of rain, so the plants can grow instead of living with wet feet all the time.

      Enjoyed your project such a wonderful feeling seeing your plants growing healthy. You did a great job.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      rebeccamealey, Thank you so much. Glad you liked it.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      You sound like quite the gardener. Love it! Your garden tiers are awesome. Shared for sure! All over!

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Nancy Owens, Thank you. Your garden bed sounds like it is well built. I'll come take a look and hope you have a hub on it. : )

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      DealForALiving, Thank you so much. Of course one doesn't need a green thumb to build the beds and to install the fence, but it certainly did help with the motivation of it. : )

    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 3 years ago from USA

      What a nice write-up. I haven't tried any that come in kits. Mine are done either with retaining bricks or in the case of my back yard, I used rebar, landscape timbers, lined the sides with black plastic and then put a border on the outside of that with retainer bricks. I'm looking forward to making a tiered bed as shown above.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Athlyn Green, The raised beds do make it more fun. I can lean over the different beds to do any pulling, and feel like a get a good stretch too. : )

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Victoria Lynn, I purchased a different brand of garden soil for my last two beds with some Miracle Gro mixed in, and it just wasn't as nice. I'll eventually get more Miracle Gro and mix in once this harvest is done.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Peggy W. That is great. The raised ones make it so much easier to garden. Thank you very much for the vote, share, and the welcome. : )

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      That is such an impressive garden! I don't have a green thumb so I'm not an expert, but I just think you did a really nice job putting it together.

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 3 years ago from West Kootenays

      I love raised beds. They take the work out of vegetable or flower gardening. I hate fighting grass, so anything that allows me to enjoy gardening is a huge plus.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I have a couple of garden beds, but they haven't done well lately. Maybe I'll try that Miracle Gro soil. Good for you! It looks like you have done well!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My hubby and I built a raised garden bed for my mother after my dad died and she really enjoyed gardening in it. Your garden area looks great. The raised garden areas certainly make it easier to garden for those of us who cannot kneel. Up votes and will share with my HP followers. Welcome to HubPages!

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Thanks. Some people spread them out like I did, and I've seen others that were back to back.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 3 years ago from Kansas

      I really like the looks of it. I've been thinking of adding one to the side of our yard. Makes me with it was spring.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      SheGetsCreative I think you're right. The raised garden beds definitely have my vote.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Raised beds are the way to go!

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      @groovyfind Thanks for your input. Good to hear from a fellow gardener who loves theirs too.

    • groovyfind profile image

      Samantha Devereux 3 years ago from Columbia Mo

      I Love mine...makes it so much nicer to tend!

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      esmonaco, the raised beds to offer some conveniences. You are very welcome.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      I have always wanted to try a raised bed garden but never have. Thank for the tips and inspiration :)

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      gottaloveit2 Glad to have inspired some inspiration for you. May you have some fun making them look pretty. : )

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 3 years ago

      I have a few raised garden beds but, sadly, they're mostly weeks at this point. You've inspired me to get back out there and make them pretty again.

    • CherylsArt profile image
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      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      jtrader, Yes, I do.

      That is very nice of you. I did plant a row of wisteria along the back of our yard, and the birds enjoy hanging out there. I still like seeing our feathered friends.

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      You have a bigger garden now ;-)

      Your comment about the seeds from the bird feeder has given me an idea. I may plant a little area with seeds specifically for the birds- give them even more variety.