Creating A Raised Bed

It is often an extremely frustrating time in store for any gardener whose plans include plants that require good water drainage, but whose garden is constantly water logged. While there are many plants that do just fine even in conditions with excess water, the converse is also true. The same water that causes some varieties of flowers to bloom beautifully quickly kills off other flower varieties. It is therefore important that any gardener investigate the water requirements of any plants, and match them with the garden, before buying and planting, to ensure a less stressful gardening experience.

There is an easy way to test just how well the drainage in your garden is. Dig a small hole, about 30 cm deep, in the garden. Fill that with water, and then leave it for a day or so. When all the water has gone from the hole, fill it with water again. If this second filling of water has not disappeared within 12 hours or so, then the garden has high water retention, or relatively poor drainage. If you are unfortunate enough to have such a garden, you will need to put in a bit more effort to ensure good plant survival and growth for most plants.

One of the most popular ways of dealing with poor drainage in a garden is through the use of raised beds. The basic recipe involves the creation of a border for a bed, and then adding compost and soil in enough quantities to raise it about 5 inches above the rest of the garden. Even a modification this small will add substantially to the drainage for that specific patch.
There are differences in creating a raised bed, depending on whether you are creating it on a grassy area, or over dirt. A raised bed over a non-grassy area is a relatively simple affair. A border or guard to retain the compost and soil you use to create the bed is all you need. Many gardeners succeed in doing this with just a few two by fours nailed together. Once the border is in place, just add the right combination of soil and compost or manure. Remember that you might have to add more if any deterioration occurs once you water your new raised bed.

Things are a bit more complicated when you are building a raised bed in an area that already has sod. The best way is to mark out the perimeter for your intended raised bed, and cut out the sod around this edge. The grass then needs to be flipped over. While this sounds like a simple procedure, care needs to be taken, to ensure that the instrument you use is sharp enough to cut the sod, so it can be turned upside down. Furthermore, it is advised to add a layer of straw, to prevent the sod from growing back up. Once this is done, soil and compost can then be added to create the raised bed.

Once you are happy with your raised patch you can plant in it in the normal fashion. The one precaution is that the roots of your new plants do not extend too far into the original soil level. The very essence of creating a raised bed, is to reduce the amount of waterlogged soil that your plants’ roots are in, so the shallower the better.

Many gardeners report seeing immediate improvements in the health, and growth of plants in raised beds, compared with those in normal water logged soil. While water is good for plants, the more controlled measures in raised beds are better, and result in better plant well being. The prospect of creating raised beds seems at first daunting for most gardeners, but the results certainly make the task a worthwhile one. If you are not sure if creating a raised bed can improve your garden, you can experiment with a small patch of your garden, and if you see improvements, increase the size of the raised patches.

Also information about spring bedding biennials and the aftercare of bulbs would be very beneficial for you.

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