The Basics of Raised Garden Plans:
Raised gardens have been growing in popularity for years now, especially with gardeners who are unfortunate enough to have poor soil conditions in their area. Just because your soil does not want to cooperate, that does not mean you cannot still have an amazing garden. The beauty behind raised gardens is that it really doesn't matter what your underlying soil conditions are.
Now you might think that there is some underlying trick or technique to constructing raised garden plans, but the reality is they are actually quite simple. Typically gardeners will construct frame boxes from pressure treated lumber, or even scrap wood they have lying around their homes. You can also build raised gardens with loose stones and rocks that you might have around. Whatever you choose to do, you need only go up about 6 to 10 inches up from the existing ground. Once you have that, you are ready to start planting!
Advantages of Raised Garden Plans:
You might find yourself asking, why would I want to go this route as opposed to just tilling my existing soil with amendments? That is a very good question, and one that is commonly asked, so let us explore a few of the advantages to raised gardens. One of the first things you will discover as you are tending your raised gardens is that they are so much easier to work than traditional gardens. Because you have built them above ground, you will find that it is much easier on the back because you are not reaching so far down to pull weeds. Also, because your raised gardens are built with access in mind, you should rarely ever have to walk into your raised gardens directly. This prevents the soil from compacting.
Raised gardens will warm up quicker during the spring than an in ground garden, giving you the opportunity to start your flowers and veggies sooner! Another added benefit is because you are quite literally filling your new raised garden boxes with fresh soil, you will have the added ability to tailor that soil to whatever plants you decide to grow in that particular bed. Think about the possibilities if you have multiple raised garden plans!
Materials for Raised Garden Plans:
You can also use this method of gardening in square foot gardening! Do a search above on the topic for articles to help you out there! Last but certainly not least, because your raised gardens will be smaller and more compact, there will be less room for weeds to grow in the bed. This will lead to far less maintenance required down the line.
The first thing you need to think about is the type of material you want to build your raised garden boxes out of. Wood is by far the most common choice of materials because it is cheap and extremely easy to work with. Chances are you probably have some scrap wood lying around that you could use to save money.
Stone or bricks are another option you can consider, assuming you don't mind the added expense and the heavy lifting to get your raised gardens started. Once constructed however, stone or brick will last for decades with very little maintenance. So if you are sure yours plans are going to stay, this is certainly something to think about.
Another option that not many people think about is using bales of straw. Straw is extremely cheap, and at the same time bulky enough that you could line out a nice sized garden with just a few bales and then fill the box with your soil mix of choice. This method will need rebuilt year after year, but it's a good way to get started if you are not sure you are going to stick with it.
Site Location for Your Raised Garden Plans:
The biggest consideration in choosing a site is how much sun light it will get on any given day. If you want to have the most versatility with your raised gardens, choose a site that gets a minimum of 8 hours of full sun each day. This is especially important if you are going to grow herbs or vegetables as you will have a very low yield in poor light conditions. You will want to make sure that the area is flat and is close by to a source of water. You can build your raised garden plans on a slope if you like, but you will need to make sure you compensate the design of your frame so that the final bed is level at the top.
Determine the Size of Your Garden: This is an area where novice gardeners tend to make mistakes by going too big, assuming that building one garden is better than building multiple ones. A garden is only as good as the time you have to put into it, so it's always a good idea to start small and work your way up. The biggest consideration to size is accessibility. You will want to be able to reach the entire bed from OUTSIDE of the frame. You never want to have to walk inside the bed and compact the soil.
Building Your Raised Garden Plans:
You can build your raised garden plans out of any type of wood you choose, but it's best to go with pressure treated lumber, or the newer composite lumber if you can afford it. The walls of the frame won't be taking much weight, but you still want them sturdy. Stacked 4 x 4's with lag bolts tying them together is an excellent way to build them. You can even cut every other beam 4" longer on one end and overlap them at the corners for added strength. Make sure your final boxes are level!
Fill Your Frames: Once built, you have to decide what soil mix to fill them with, and as we stated above, this will depend on what you want to grow. All raised garden plans are different, so you will have to do a little research on the plants you are growing to find out what soil mix is best for them. You can also save yourself a lot of headaches by putting down a layer of weed barrier before filling. This will go a long way to make sure any existing weeds don't start crowding into your new raised gardens.
All that is left is for you to sow your seeds, or plant your starters if that's how you chose to go, and you're off and running! Good Luck!
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