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Old 04-28-2015, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
10,341 posts, read 19,812,565 times
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We do a lot of raised bed gardening and it is amazingly easy and productive. So far, I've found - for my area at least - three concrete blocks high with solid cap blocks is the best. Stacking concrete blocks is really easy and if you go three blocks high it's really easy to reach the soil. I put bits of rebar in the holes of the block along with rocks for the first two layers and then soil for the top layer of concrete blocks. If it's two layers thick or less, then I don't bother with the rebar.



This is the beginning of the newest raised bed. There's a bit of a slope so I'm going to terrace it with raised bed gardens so I won't have to mow in that area. It's right outside the kitchen door so it will be for vegetables. There will be another one for herbs built pretty soon. For now, I've run out of blocks so it's only two layers high. I'll probably add another layer to it eventually. This one also has weed cloth across the bottom since there's an invasive pink creeper vine in the area. Our soil has great drainage, so no coarse rocks were added. If drainage was a problem, then I'd add a layer of rocks. If dryness was a problem, then I'd line the inside of the bricks - at least the vertical parts - with plastic sheeting or paint the exterior of the blocks.



This picture is from last January. Halfway built the raised bed garden was a temporary parking space for the fruit tree order that arrived with no holes dug for the fruit trees yet. Most of the fruit trees were immediately relocated, but there's still a few grape vines and an English walnut that need to be relocated. We've been busy moving into the new house so things have been a bit chaotic lately.



This is late January. Most of the temporary trees were moved out, although there's still a pair of apple trees there in the middle of it. Those have been moved out, but there's still one tree and four grapes to move. In this picture, it's been filled in, seeded and invaded by pink flamingos. Raised bed gardens don't have to be serious gardens.



That's as of this morning. The tin roofing is a temporary fence to keep the dogs in the yard now that we've finally moved in two weeks ago and we needed a place for the dogs. A better fence will be built but there's about fourteen more important projects in front of "better fence" at the moment. Buying a fixer-upper does have it's disadvantages.

Raised bed gardens are so much easier to manage than the traditional gardens and they don't get attacked by weed whackers. They use less water and fertilizer since you're just basically only taking care of where the plants are and not the walkways around them.

I think eventually, there will be another layer of concrete blocks around the top of the garden and the blocks may be painted green or brown.
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Old 04-28-2015, 01:03 PM
 
Location: Denver/Boulder Zone 5b
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I do strictly container gardening, but I have a few neighbors who have raised beds. They range from 8" or so to about 24". Based on my eye-witness accounts, I find the deeper beds seem to do a bit better because our native clay soil sucks, but both do just fine for their owner's needs. One neighbor uses untreated wood and one uses treated. The neighbors with the untreated wood have to replace and rebuild their beds every 3 years or so and the neighbor with the treated wood has not had to replace anything yet at 10 years (this coming July). They're starting to look a bit ragged, though, and will probably need replacing next season.

It all depends on the amount of money you want to spend and the amount of labor you want to bestow upon yourself. Personally, I'd go 18"-24".
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Old 04-28-2015, 08:14 PM
 
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24" deep is a good height for access. I wouldn't recommend filling the bottom with rocks or brick as eventually you'll have to till into that. I used some slightly lower quality sandy fill (no rocks) to build it up slightly before adding 12-18" of planting soil and compost.

Here's how they looked during the first planting last year.

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Old 04-29-2015, 05:16 AM
 
Location: Canada
6,251 posts, read 4,666,189 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkarch View Post
24" deep is a good height for access. I wouldn't recommend filling the bottom with rocks or brick as eventually you'll have to till into that. I used some slightly lower quality sandy fill (no rocks) to build it up slightly before adding 12-18" of planting soil and compost.

Here's how they looked during the first planting last year.
mkarch, What a beautiful setting! Thanks for posting photos too.

hotzcatz, thanks for the photos and information! I'm getting some great ideas with this thread!
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Old 04-29-2015, 09:30 AM
 
Location: Denver/Boulder Zone 5b
1,368 posts, read 3,313,336 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkarch View Post
24" deep is a good height for access. I wouldn't recommend filling the bottom with rocks or brick as eventually you'll have to till into that. I used some slightly lower quality sandy fill (no rocks) to build it up slightly before adding 12-18" of planting soil and compost.

Here's how they looked during the first planting last year.
mkarch, what a gorgeous space you have there! I am quite envious of the various levels - lookin' good!
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:43 AM
 
5,075 posts, read 8,949,561 times
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Originally Posted by NickMan7 View Post
mkarch, what a gorgeous space you have there! I am quite envious of the various levels - lookin' good!
Thanks. Building all of that was a several month process. Now you'd never guess it used to be a rotten deck surrounded by sunken concrete walkways. Our first winter in the house this area had formed a large seasonal stream that washed out yards of soil and started to collapse the retaining wall below the fence.
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Old 04-29-2015, 11:34 AM
 
Location: Bend Or.
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We went 18" but will go 24 next time. When using wood for the frame, I also line it with Plastic, except the bottom. Helps keep it more moist. In a colder climate I would use insulation between the wood and plastic, than a removable cover.
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Old 04-29-2015, 03:22 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
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Most of our raised-beds are 8". This seems to work fine for most crops.
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Old 04-29-2015, 10:57 PM
 
195 posts, read 191,216 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mkarch View Post
24" deep is a good height for access. I wouldn't recommend filling the bottom with rocks or brick as eventually you'll have to till into that. I used some slightly lower quality sandy fill (no rocks) to build it up slightly before adding 12-18" of planting soil and compost.

Here's how they looked during the first planting last year.
Ditto what the others wrote. Very nice job, looks great.
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