Commercial Raised Beds vs. Man Made Raised Beds

ladyrose65January 16, 2011

I tried posting this in the discussion kept failing.

I have a decision to make. I need to make room for my seedlings, even taking into factor there are going to be some WS failures; I need room.

We live in a hard clay soil area, where most people have soil brought in to create gardens. I viewed the expensive raised beds on the internet, but if I pay my Jack-of-all trades, Brother, its still going to cost me about the same.

What is your experience with wood and/or plastic raised beds? I will esp. need them for Hollyhocks, Delphiniums and Foxgloves.

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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I've not tried the plastic or composite ones. I did make a couple with wood frames last year. I imagine a composite or plastic might last longer as the wood would be prone to rot.

If you don't really need a raised bed, and your only goal is to improve the soil, you might want to consider lasagna gardens. It would be much easier and cheaper.

Just google "lasagna gardening" or "interbay mulch" or "sheet composting". It will do wonders for you soil, and is free. There's lots of info on the techniques on the soil forum on GW, too.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 9:25PM
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I am going with raised beds as well. I plan to outline my yard (which is a pretty good sized coner lot) with raised beds. They'll have scalloped edges. I don't plan to use anything to contain it but rather kind of dig a trench in front of it. I'll also mulch so that keeps the soil in place. I tried it last year on a small section & it worked great!

Is there a reason you need to "build" something for your raised bed?


    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 9:38PM
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Ladyrose65, thanks for starting this discussion. I am so interested in the topic. You did not mention any health reasons for a raised bed. Assuming this is not an issue, the flowers you mentioned seem more conducive to a less formal bed. This is my first year winter sowing for our new flowerless home site. Last year was dedicated to establishing a lawn, doing some leveling of the land and adding shrubs. We did add two raised lasagna beds - each approximately 50' x 3' - one for hydrangea and one for daylily and ornamental grass. After hours of reading this site, the Cutting Garden and Cottage Garden I am leaning towards a raised lasagna garden with no construction for my newly sown perennials and to be sown annuals.

Let the discussion go on.....


    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 9:51PM
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Thanks kqcma, jodie74, and meadows.

I need to make raised beds because, the soil clay here is seriously hard. I hit it with a pic axe and it broke. The little garden I have now is almost 3ft from original ground. I had the soil brought in 13 years ago.

So I need something large and attractive to put future new flowers. I don't want my Hollyhocks with my roses for they are invasive from past experience. Though, I have 3 in the bed now.

I just want to do little to no digging; just the mixing of soil. Being a Rose grower, I can make great soil. I just live in clay land from Hell.

I'm going to research "Lasagna gardening, interbay mulch, and sheet composting".

I need something to keep the soil in.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 12:17AM
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rosemctier(z5/6 waynesburg PA)

i'm in the same boat. i have several beds that have been dug out and refilled with a mix of what was there and a ton of compost. i just add a layer of compost every year, not wanting to dig up any old seeds, and i get better results every year so it must be working.

i had much more luck than i thought i would with straw bale gardening for my viney things like squash and pumpkin and other thing like tomatoes and peppers. i did not try flowers but have seen some amazing photos of flowered covered bales, so i know it works with annuals. i was encouraged enough to want to do it again this year, but i am buying my bales the next time the snow melts. it took much longer than i thought to get them ready to plant, longer than directions said, but despite the late start i had decent results. and the best thing is it just breaks down and after a few years you have a nice bed. worth looking into.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 12:46AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I have clay soil, too. It's gooey and sticky in spring when wet, hard as a rock in the hot dry summers if not amended. Lasagna is the ultimate amendment and it's free, easy, and requires no digging or tilling. There's no expensive soil to buy or frame to build. I will never, ever dig a garden.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 5:53AM
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manda3(8a DFW Texas)

Expanded shale is a life saver if you like buying things. Put it on once, and for years later, you'll be able to work the soil anytime you need.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 4:10PM
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I made three lasagna beds over existing lawn inside of SunCast brand plastic frames late last fall/early winter; they are easy to work with but are expensive. Luckily I got them at closeout prices at the end of the season. I filled them with compost made from leaves, rabbit manure, coffee grounds, and veg trimmings. I am thinking after the beds settle a bit I will remove the frames and use them to start new beds; the frames are easy to move and contain the bed contents for more neatness.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2014 at 8:13AM
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