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Filling the bottom of a hillside raised bed

Posted by Coachlane none (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 11, 14 at 6:13

My Fiancee and I recently moved into a house on a hillside with enough yard space for a vegetable garden. The one issue - the yard space in question is on the side of a somewhat steep hill. I've built access stairs and 3 3ft x 12 ft raised beds which compensate for the hill slope, but given the angle, there is a LOT of space to fill in the downhill side of the beds (12 inches deep on the high side, 29ish inches on the low side!). My understanding is that using nice (and expensive) soil below the 12 inch mark is not cost effective. We can also get wood mulch for free in our county. Would I be setting myself up for failure by filling in everything below the 12 inch line with free mulch, and then building normal soil on top? We will be drip irrigating, so I can fine tune moisture to account for drainage.
Thanks all for the help!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Filling the bottom of a hillside raised bed

Not a good idea to use mulch or anything else that can decompose as the bottom layer. Those kinds of materials will soon decompose and maybe even turn anaerobic underneath the soil.

I'd use a coarse gravel, I guess.

RE: Filling the bottom of a hillside raised bed

I would shovel down 15" into hill on the high side instead of raising that side. So , your low side will be raised just 15" and your high side 0". In this case , everything gonna be leveled without extra materials.

RE: Filling the bottom of a hillside raised bed

Is your slope South facing? Consider terracing your beds, where they would be below grade on the uphill side, but above grade on the downhill side. Just an idea.

RE: Filling the bottom of a hillside raised bed

You could just use any soil from anywhere on your property. It will be buried so deep, the weed seeds won't really matter.

If you build any more beds, I would recommend that you level the area by digging and moving soil and tamping it down FIRST. Then install your bed on a level pad. Don't tamp down too much. because the roots may end up in the native soil. Just a little so that it doesn't settle immediately when it gets wet.

If you have gophers, you should put hardware cloth (wire mesh) on the bottom of the bed. Also, you should make sure the walls of the bed stick up a straight vertical two inches or more all around the bed to prevent the gophers from coming in on the surface.

Best of luck to you!


RE: Filling the bottom of a hillside raised bed

I second what DirtandYarn said : TERRACE.

RE: Filling the bottom of a hillside raised bed

In landscape terms it's called cut and fill. You cut out the uphill side and fill it into the downhill side. It's a well established principal for hills. You can use it for one plant or for a whole terrace.

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