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How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

Build a Raised Garden Bed

    Though the snowdrifts outside are still waist-high and the sun is still setting before 6 pm, it’s at this time of year that many avid gardeners start thinking about the green spaces they’ll be tending in the not-so-distant future. Months spent away from gardens have made many of us tetchy and anxious, prompting us to spend hours going through seed catalogues and gardening websites, adding to ever-growing Pinterest boards in preparation for the lushness we’ll be planting soon.

    Raised beds look amazing in any garden space—be that a front yard herb garden or a sprawling backyard tomato plot—and they’re remarkably easy to build. Additionally, if the soil in your region is fairly poor, creating a raised bed full of compost-rich soil will undoubtedly help you grow abundant, healthy vegetables and herbs that may not have thrived if planted in the ground. Having a raised bed is also beneficial for jump-starting your garden, as the soil within will be warmer than the earth below ground level.

    Basic materials needed:

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    • Measuring tape
    • Garden spade and trowel
    • Lumber (pre-cut, or else have a table saw handy)
    • Wood glue
    • Screws that are long enough to hold the wood sturdily in place
    • Steel corner docks (optional)
    • Garden bed layers (newspaper, lawn clippings, leaves, compost, and bedding soil)

    Wooden Beds

    Wooden Beds

      Many people choose to make their raised planter beds out of wood, which is really the cheapest and easiest resource to work with. To create a raised wooden bed, begin by measuring out the area that you’ll be working with. The bed shouldn’t be more than 4 feet wide, as you’ll need to be able to reach the center of it to pull weeds and the like, and as for height, I’d make it at least 8-10 inches high. Some people prefer theirs to be 1-2 feet in height, but that’s an individual choice.

      Cedar is the best type of wood to use, but you can also use pine for this project. I like to use 4″ x 4″ lumber for beds, as they’re fairly sturdy and have more surface area for wood glue to adhere to.

      Once you’ve measured out the garden space, dig a slight trench around the perimeter for the timbers to nestle into. Lay the wood down into the trenches, ensuring that they butt up against each other quite firmly, and screw them into place. Slather those timbers with wood glue and then lay down the next layer, ensuring that you’ve alternated the orientation of the wood to create lapped corners, and allow this to dry for 6-8 hours before screwing them into the lower layer of wood. Repeat this process until the bed is as high as you’d like it—just be sure to stagger the screws around the edges so you don’t drill one into the other.

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      Once you’re happy with the height, you can reinforce the edges with steel corner docks if you feel that extra stability is needed.

      Brick or Fieldstone Beds

      Stone Garden Bed

        Materials needed:

        • Measuring tape
        • Bricks, cinder blocks, or stones
        • Garden spade or trowel
        • Mortar paste
        • Mason’s trowel
        • Garden bed layers (newspaper, lawn clippings, leaves, compost, and bedding soil)

        The method of creating beds of stone is really quite basic. Do you remember stacking bricks or logs when you were a child? Remember how you needed to stagger/alternate them so they didn’t just fall over? This is the same deal, only on a larger scale.

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        The dimensions for a block-bordered raised bed should be the same as with wood, but instead of wood glue and screws, you’ll use mortar to keep the bricks/stones in place. In order to figure out how many bricks you’ll need, go to a building center and ask for an estimate—just give the supplier the measurements of the length and height of the planter you’re planning, and they can let you know how many blocks are needed. You can either buy new materials, or re-use masonry from buildings that have been torn down. Wherever you source your blocks from, always have 10 or so extra lying around just in case they’re needed.

        Fieldstone

          As with the wood, dig a slight trench around the perimeter of the bed for the bricks to nestle into. Bricks are great to work with as they can be adjusted to create any shape; if you don’t want a rectangular bed, you can create a round, oblong, or free-form organic structure instead. Lay down the first layer of blocks into the trench, and then lay the second layer atop them, ensuring that they’re staggered. Once you have them all in place, you’ll lift them one by one, slap some mortar paste on the bottoms of them, and set them back into place to secure them. You’ll let this cure for a day or two before filling in the bed.

          If you’re using fieldstones instead of bricks or blocks, ensure that they’re mostly flat and will sit together firmly and securely. You’re also more likely to have gaps between these stones than with bricks or cinder blocks, but you can fill those in with smaller rocks and a bit of mortar.

          Layered Filling

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          Lasagna

            Now that you’ve created the planter, it’s time to fill it with a “lasagna” of organic layers that will create a rich soil. Put down about 4 layers of newspaper (black and white print only: no colour or glossy adverts), then 1 inch of aged animal manure or vegetable compost.

            Note: be sure to wet your newspaper before layering it, so it’ll stick together and won’t fly off into your neighbour’s yard with the slightest breeze.

            After the paper comes a few inches of “green mulch” made from mixed leaves, grass (lawn clippings, straw), and peat moss, followed by a thick layer of compost-rich bedding soil. That’s all watered and left to settle for a few days, and after that, you’re ready to plunk in your seedlings.

            *Note: Be sure to adjust the layer thicknesses to correspond with the height of your raised bed: an 8-inch planter will only need 2 inches of green mulch, while a 1.5-foot-tall bed will require 8-10 inches of it, etc.

             

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            Catherine Winter

            Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on November 11, 2019

            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

            Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

            To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

            Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

            1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

            Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

            Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

            To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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            2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

            Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

            If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

            Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

            3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

            Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

            Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

            4. Feed Your Brain

            Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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            This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

            Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

            Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

            5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

            According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

            Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

            Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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            6. Write it Down

            If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

            It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

            You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

            7. Listen to Music

            Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

            8. Visual Concepts

            In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

            Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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            Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

            9. Teach Someone Else

            Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

            Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

            10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

            Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

            So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

            Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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