Building raised bed against a fence?

HoustonNewlywedsOctober 30, 2013

My husband and I have a very small backyard in an urban area, and we decided to build a raised garden bed along the fence using concrete pavers. We've researched tips on building this type of raised beds, but we still aren't sure how to protect the fence (which is ~5 months old, cedar, untreated wood). We'd like to grow produce in the bed, so I am concerned with any solution that would involve potential toxins leaching into the soil.

Ideas we've considered:
-Protecting the fence with some sort of plastic? My concern is that might not allow the fence to breathe.
-Building a protective "wall" against the fence out of 4"-wide cinder blocks.
-Covering fence with cement blue board.
-Building a "buffer" against the fence with treated wood, and then maybe covering that wood with plastic to prevent chemicals from leaching into the soil? Or maybe covering fence with some extra cedar boards for protection.
-Installing some kind of french drain?

Also, I read on another forum that someone suggested laying a perforated pipe surrounded by crushed stone along the bottom of the fence to improve drainage. Is this recommended? Where would the pipe drain to?'

Thanks in advance!

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HoustonNewlyweds

A couple other options I've read that I forgot to mention are:

1) To paint the cedar fence with asphalt emulsion or foundation waterproofing material;

2) Use an EPDM rubber sheet on the face of the fence that will be holding the soil

What do you think?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 10:40AM
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lyfia

Why do you need the bed to be raised?

Don't add any materials that could leach toxins if you want to grow edibles.

I think only way to protect the fence would be to leave a space between it and the raised portion and then build a box around the whole raised area.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 11:34AM
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yardvaark

You are proposing to create a problem --a rotting fence -- and then spending time and effort trying to figure out how to prevent the problem in spite of its existence. The only good method is as Lyfia suggest ... keep an air gap (several inches at least) between the raised bed and the fence. There is no other way. And this creates another problem ... a place where trash is trapped and maintenance is more difficult because of limited access. Cedar will disappoint you with its shortened life span if you don't make sure it is able to dry quickly after its gets wet.

I ask the same question as Lyfia ... why does the garden need to be raised? If you wish to raise the grade, the proper way is to create the raised area and place the fence on top of it. Placing anything against the fence will ensure that it doesn't dry quickly.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 8:17PM
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mjlb

Ditto - keep space between fence and raised beds, but plenty of options:

Here is a link that might be useful: materials for raised beds

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 2:42PM
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sandrarinck

Why would you want to build a raised bed? I know for our yard, the soil is so compact with roots that we can't even get a shovel or pick in to plant any flowers. The only solution to being able to use the area is to build a planter.

I was on here looking for information on how to protect the fence and my husband and I thought the only way would be to make sure there is a gap...unless there was a better space saving way to do it, of course.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2015 at 9:25AM
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cakbu z9 CA(9 CA)

I know exactly what you are dealing with. After 3 years of failed attempts to plant anything in my tree root infested ground I gave up and started building planter boxes. They are simple to make, I use redwood or cedar fence boards. I put a bottom with drainage. They can be made in any size you wish. So far I have made 12 boxes of varying sizes. I can make one in a couple of hours. It is working out for me.

1 Like    Bookmark   February 11, 2015 at 5:38AM
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sandrarinck

Thank you, cakbu I currently have two that aren't as pretty as yours and wanted to add something more permanent and visually appealing to our outdoor landscape.

For now the noses work great. Maybe I could keep the boxes I alread have and put up a fascade...

    Bookmark   February 11, 2015 at 5:54AM
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