Raised beds against a fence?

ivysmomOctober 28, 2010

I want to build some raised beds against a fence on the property, and was wondering how to handle the side that will literally be against the fence. Obviously rotting the fence out by putting soil up against it is out... but the idea of using the same (pricey) hardscape on that side of the bed where they aren't even seen is kind of... wasteful.

My first thought was cinderblock with some kind of barrier to keep dirt/moisture out, on the vertical surface, but I'm not sure how well that might work. I'm talking a bed that's 2, maybe 2.5 feed tall. Small retaining wall type thing. This is where I envision my tulips, daffodils, lavender and freesia type plants going, so it's something I plan to have ready to go this winter.


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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Cinder blocks are fine for raised beds. If they're on a very even surface and you stack them carefully, you won't need any liner. I'd leave a small space (half an inch?) between the blocks and the fence; even without the issue of leakage from the bed, the air space will help that side of the fence dry out after rain.

I assume you're going to cover the holes in the blocks with some of the more expensive material?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:08PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Are you sure it has to be against a fence? Do a search of this forum for "perimeteritis." If it has to be, the cinder block solution works, but if the space it really narrow you can't clean in there and it will become fabulous slug, spider, or other critter habitat (not to mention inside the cinderblocks if no barrier is used - I've filled them with dirt for raised bed construction).

So I might be more inclined to use something right against the fence - I've used some counter granite off-cuts for that sort of thing, or in one spot I just put another cedar board across the fence boards to protect the fence from actual dirt contact. My motto would be big space or no space. You CAN rebuild fences - even with dirt contact you might be OK for ten years.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:53PM
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missing: unfortunately, the yard isn't all that even. I'm going to TRY to level it as best I can, but figured I'd probably end up tucking a liner in anyhow. And yeah, I'll cap off or put one rise of the pricier material on top of the cinderblocks.

karinl: I've goth some trees in the ground already not around the edge of the property, plus we'll be adding a patio and either arbors or a pergola around there somewhere. I'm not opposed to also having a raised bed away from the fence It's not a narrow space -- I've taken photos of our back yard (where this will go) and put them up to ask for suggestions here in another thread. Love to hear your comments :) (so far, only one bit of feedback on placement of the to-be garage, which wasn't really the main focus of my reason for posting)...


Here is a link that might be useful: My other post about the yard design

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 9:55AM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Right, that post. I did look at it. I can tell you why I didn't respond and why probably others also didn't... which will probably frustrate you because when you ask a small question people ask for the big picture and when you ask a big question people say you're asking too much.

I really don't mean to be unwelcoming, so please don't take this that way. What I hope to do is help you ask questions that will stimulate a good discussion so that you have a good experience here.

You gave a lot of information about the yard and plants in your post - too much, to tell the truth - but very little about you. It's not that we're nosy, but that landscaping is done for people, not for the yards themselves. Also, what you asked for was help designing something you've already pretty much got in your head, and you've described rather disjointed elements with no reference to how the yard is going to be used, or what you like to do in a yard. No one can help you with that. And with the amount of detail you'd already given, there was overload, and probably little inclination to ask for more, because you were asking for something the forum members likely aren't here for anyway. We're mostly here to learn, to exchange ideas, and to help you learn, not to take decisions off your plate. Blunt, I'm afraid, but I hope clear.

To the question of whether there should be a raised bed right "here" I would say it depends on whether your gardening needs require a raised bed or whether those needs could be met better elsewhere with less compromise, expense, or trouble, or to better effect.

What the forum excels at is helping you solve a problem or make a decision that you're stuck on for some reason. Your other thread, you aren't stuck; quite the reverse - you know pretty much where you're going. Things like just where the patio should or arbour should go are things that, even if you could give us enough information to make the decision, I don't think that's what anyone comes to the forum to do. It's quite different from the direction the Home Decorating forum has gone - more power to them, it's a busy place and people enjoy being there and sharing their opinions. But this is different.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 1:15PM
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I suggest you stop and do some study before you begin changing any of your landscape. I read your other thread. I note the following.

You live in Houston.
Houston has a climate that is both warm and wet.
Your house has a conventional wood floor on piers.
The crawl space is very minimal in height.
Your lot is near flat.

With these conditions, even a minor change in grade could lead to rainwater surface flow going under your house. With the limited crawl space, any moisture in the soil there is likely to set up the perfect conditions for dry rot to the floor structure. The cost of a complete floor replacement ten years down the road might be more than the value of the house.

It is most important that the soil under your house be kept bone dry at all times. You should develop a drainage plan that insures that end.

Any raised bed backing up to the fence should not be taller than 12 inches and spaced 16 inches from the fence to allow this area to be cleaned and make it easy to replace fence boards or apply paint, stain, or waterproofing.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 3:13PM
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I've built my raised beds out of untreated lumber, and put it flush up against my wooden fence. Is this going to be a problem? If I do bring it forward for next year, what's the minimum amount of space I should leave between raised bed and fence? My raised bed is 8" high.

btw: I live in Houston, TX.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 7:36PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

Best to start a new thread with your question, and make it clear whether it is wood or dirt that will be up against the fence.

Karin L

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 2:02AM
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>make it easy to replace fence boards or apply paint, stain, or waterproofing.

Not how things are done in Texas. :-)

People don't paint, stain, or waterproof fences hardly ever.

Fences are put right on the property line (adverse possession and common sense), and people are pretty decent when it comes to fence replacement about letting you into their yard for an hour, if it's necessary.

But pls8xx is right on about being nervous about drainage (as he? always is).

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:13PM
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