Raised Garden Beds – Tips For Building One That Looks Great

If you’ve decided to build a raised bed for your backyard garden, here are a few tips to help you build one that looks great. First, avoid railway sleepers, which are often treated with chemicals, and be sure to buy a high-quality, untreated alternative. Plan the width and height of your bed and include a path around the outside, as well as fill the bottom with potting soil. Depending on the materials you choose, you can also consider using cover crops such as oats or straw.

Avoid Treated Railway Sleepers

Using reclaimed railway sleepers in raised beds is frowned upon due to health regulations. The sleepers contain a carcinogenic substance called creosote. However, you can use untreated sleepers for your raised bed if you follow the correct steps. You can simply lay the sleepers on soil and secure them with gravel or sand. Alternatively, you can buy new ones and add compost activators to prevent them from decaying.

Plan Your Bed’s Width

Once you have the width of the bed determined, you can start planning the edges. Raised beds can be edged with stones, bricks, or wood. Make sure the wood is not pressure-treated or painted since they may leach chemicals into the soil. Bricks can be placed end-to-end around the edges or stood on their ends for higher sides. When edging your raised bed, you should consider how much space you will need between the raised bed and the edge of the garden path.

Add A Path Around The Outside

Raised beds are a great way to keep soil and moisture contained. A path around the perimeter can help prevent weeds and hold moisture. You can also install a trellis between beds to support the vertical growth of plants. You can build your raised beds three to four feet wide. When you layout your beds, smother grass and cut clumps of sod to one side. Scrape soil from the path around the perimeter of the beds to loosen the soil. Then, you can start adding soil amendments.

Fill The Bottom With Potting Soil

When building raised beds, fill the bottom with organic matter such as compost, manure, or old straw bales. These materials break down quickly and will help build the soil’s organic content. Make sure to thoroughly water them, as this will help maintain the right moisture level for your plants. You can use store-bought soil or organic matter mixed with potting soil. Just remember to leave a few inches of space around the bottom of the bed to fill with soil.

Wrap Bubble Foil Around The Bed To Keep Out Weeds

Another simple way to prevent weeds is to wrap bubble foil around your raised bed. Wrapping this material around your bed will help to retain heat and promote decomposition, warming the soil. This will lead to earlier plant propagation and longer harvests. The bubble foil also acts as a protective covering for the soil, conserving moisture and preventing the growth of weeds. You should also cover your raised bed with mulch in the winter months to keep it cool and healthy.

Pre-Mix Soil

One way to get started gardening is with a raised bed. This type of bed uses a mix of organic matter and aeration enhancers. You can also add screened worm castings to your soil, which is known for its biological benefits. The good news is that raised bed soil is also longer-lasting than regular soil, lasting about a year. Besides, you can adjust the ratio of organic matter and aeration enhancers to your specific growing needs.


When preparing the soil for your raised beds, it’s a good idea to use a combination of good topsoil and organic matter. You can either purchase the topsoil you want or mix it yourself with compost, peat moss, or fine pine bark mulch. Soil calculators can help you figure out how much soil you need for a particular bed size. If you’re unsure, you can also perform soil testing. Test the soil for pH and nutrient levels.