HELP ~ need to 'renovate' (or replace) existing raised flower bed

brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)April 19, 2014

Right now, it's somewhat makeshift, made from two levels of landscape timber. (These pics are not's raining out now).

(...and sorry about all the diamond shaped question marks...dont know where they came from and...NOT going to try to edit out....tablet doesn't play nice on here)

PIC #1



First problem ~ I never drilled holes to stake it in the ground, so the top level is not stable.� We didn't think to do it beforehand.� Afterwards, I didn't have a paddlebit long enough (and didn't want to buy one). So I just have the stakes stuck in dirt against the outside of the wood to keep the top one from sliding off.� Still, it works pretty well except when the lawnmower guy knocks into it :)

Second problem ~ the guy who was helping me never came back to finish so I cut the ends (that run side to side) too short, therefore they don't butt up against the sides.� This leaves a gap in the corners so when I water, it runs out on the sidewalk.��In retrospect, I should have cut the lengths shorter and had the ends run wider.

You can kinda see the gaps in pic #2 (the thing you see next to the gap on the left side is one of those stakes ;)

Third problem is, the ground seems to have heaved up in the middle, where the two timber seams meet so it doesn't lay level anymore (pic #2)

On the opposite side, I have it butted up against the paver walkway so at least that side is level and fairly stable (pic #3).

And don't know if this is important for when you give suggestions, but the yard is higher towards the street sidewalk so we had to dig down pretty deep before laying the first level so the end would be at the edge of the sidewalk.� If you look closely at pic #1 you can see that the lower level side is almost buried.

So here's my question ~ I don't know if I should just try to fix this and if so, how?� Even though this is an established bed, the dirt does move when you pull away the timbers so no matter what I do, I will have to contend with getting the dirt up into the bed so it doesn't fall 'out' (if that makes sense?).

Or should I just go a whole different route?� I've thought of building some sort of form and filling it with QuikCrete or whatever you use.� But don't know if that would be too expensive (am on a budget).� Thought maybe I could get some salvage broken concrete pieces and pour some concrete, then stick the pieces inside, pour some more, more pieces then finish off top with concrete.� That way I could save on concrete.� Is that feasible?

I've also seen raised beds built ahead of time out of wood, in one big rectangle.� I thought that might be the easiest since I could just put it in place after it's built.� Maybe doing it that way wouldn't disturb the dirt as much since it would all one piece and taller and just slip down over the existing bed.

I do have some budget constraints, tho.� Basically, I don't want to spend any� Not really.� But I rent, so the cheaper the better (landlord is ok with this....she's a fellow gardener :)�

I like to use 'found' materials or 2nd hand stuff.� Like the timbers...they were brand new but I found them discarded in the trash.� So any 'thifty' ideas are welcome.�

Also, I'm pretty handy but I don't have a ton of power tools. I do have a circular saw and drill.� And could prolly borrow anything else I needed (except for that darn long paddle bit....NOBODY had

Thanks to all in advance for any help !

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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Why is this a raised bed?

Personally, I'd yank the timbers, do what has to be done to make sense of the grades, buy a half moon edger, and call it a day.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Hi Bonnie,

To your question - "Or should I just go a whole different route?" I say YES!! I wonder as mad_gallica said why this a raised bed at all.

I would get rid of the timers, regrade the dirt and replant the lovely stuff already there and enjoy. I have an area that is planted up and is edged with rocks to separate it from the driveway. Looks natural and is not a lot of work to keep it tidy at all.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 10:25PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Thanks for both your replies!! To answer why a raised bed...

Mainly because the depth of good topsoil in that area was very shallow with grey clay underneath. So in deference to digging or tilling it all up and amending (got a bad back so digging is no fun), it was easier to just build (and I used that word lightly...) the raised bed and fill it with good soil.

It also seems to be a good idea because I never have to weed that area and always assumed it was because it was higher than the grass.

And why not take it down.....

Aside from liking the way it looks, the main reason is that the outer edge of it runs along the "property line' between my yard and my neighbor's. He pulls his car onto his side to wash it and he's an ass, so I wouldn't put it past him to run over or step on my flowers if there wasn't some sort of wall there.

Plus, it keeps people from accidently stepping into the garden when walking up my walkway which I fear they might do if it were ground level.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 11:46AM
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You can buy some metal plates that can be screwed in on the top and bottom timber pieces. Usually this is done inside the bed timber pieces but doing it outside isn't anything worse. It will give the added stability without too much intrusion on your bed.

For the corner that leaks -- either find a way to water less quickly, such as a drip system, or push some kind of absorbent material into there (not sponge). It will just soak up a little bit more water before you still lose water but at least it can help hold back some soil.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 12:14PM
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Gardenper is right.
Do what that post says.
It looks nice, and this way you won't have an expensive
reno of the beds.
DOn't pour any more money at all at this.
The wood will eventually rot anyway, so make it last as long as possible, by shoring it up, reinforcing it.
When the wood starts to really break off, then you can just get rid of the wood and replace it with something else, like cinderblocks, and paint them.
They last forever.
THey are cheap.
No digging required.
But enjoy it now.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 12:26PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Thanks gardenper! I don't know why I didn't think of that. I'm usually pretty Guess I was so stuck on how I was 'supposed' to do it (with stakes) that I never moved past that. And I bet I could also bend some metal for the corners, too. If they were sealed, I could pack more dirt in there, reducing the leaks.

I did try the slow watering but never drip. Will have to give that a try as well.

Thanks for the encouragement butterfly !! I just saw concrete blocks in someone else's post and it gave me the same idea. You can actually stain concrete, like floors and countertops, so can't see why I couldn't use stain on them too! Like rustic, bronzy, and coppery colors. got my creative juices going. Just have to price blocks. We have a brick, concrete, rocks, sand, etc. supplier just down the road and I got salvage bricks there for cheap for a patio at another house. Maybe they have salvage block too??


    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 1:15PM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Still open for cheap

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 6:33PM
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