Even the most attractive raised beds aren’t necessarily difficult to build. A simple raised bed can be constructed from logs, decorative brick, or cinder blocks and will serve its purpose well. However, if you’re into yard conversation pieces, consider trying one of these weird DIY raised bed gardens.
Have you built an even stranger raised bed? Leave us a comment and include a picture!
Natural Wood Raised Garden
This raised bed is great to build after a storm: you won’t need to search long to find the framing materials you need. The garden gives off a Robinson Crusoe-esque feel with its bundled twigs and thick log support beams.
First, consider how tall you’d like your raised bed to be. Size is important because the support beams that go into the ground will have to be twice the height as the bed itself to ensure a steady structure. Also verify that you have enough materials–branches–to complete the bed skirt.
Next, determine your placement and protect any surrounding surfaces. Start digging holes for your support posts: 1 in each corner and 1 in the middle of each side. Since these are supporting the bed, they should be thick branches. Secure the branch in the hole with soil and construct a timber frame to sit on the posts (you will need to level the post tops). Secure with long screws.
Now you can begin the fun task of placing smaller branches into a trench about 4-5 rows thick, which should also be secured with compacted soil. Branches should not wobble when you fill the bed with soil.
Cinderblock Raised Bed
Prefer an easier concept? Try this one. Simple cinderblocks arranged in a square will provide a sturdy frame for a raised bed garden. Place the cinderblocks on level ground (you might need to do some slight digging to smooth out the ground surface). The holes within the cinderblocks should face up; not only will this keep the soil in, but you’ll end up with two additional planting areas per block, which are ideal for herbs.
Fill the bed first with cardboard boxes, landscape fabric, or newspapers to prevent weed growth. If desired, add a layer of gravel to encourage draining. Then, top with soil and start planting.
No-Dig Raised Bed
Have poor quality soil? What can be simpler than piling nutrient-rich layers on top of one another to encourage crop growth? Similar to the lasagna style of gardening, a no-dig raised bed consists of a frame of your choice—be it wood, bales, bricks, or no frame! The secret lies within its layered center.
Spread newspapers across the base of the bed at least 1/2″ thick, ensuring they overlap. Pile straw, lucerne, and manure on top of the newspapers in that order. These three layers should be ¾” thick. Next, alternate layers of manure, compost, and blood & bone until the entire bed is about a foot high. The higher the better, since these materials will decompose quickly over time.
Make sure your no-dig raised bed is built in a sunny location and on stable ground, lest you end up with a leaning bed.
A well-constructed Hugel raised bed can look complicated, but this interesting bed is easy to build. The concept is simple: a mound of logs gets covered with brown and green mulch and topped with soil. The base of logs provides several benefits: heat, moisture retention (watering may only be needed during the first year), long-term nutrient disbursement, and aeration.
Here are the specifics. Hugel beds can reach great heights (even eye-level), so you may want to dig a trench in which to place your logs and branches. If you live in an extremely dry area, layer wood well to increase moisture retention. Hardwoods work extremely well: birch, maple, oak, popular, and willow. If you want a shorter-term solution, use hay instead of logs. If building on sod, first cut the sod and place the chunk on top the logs, grassy side down. This will provide a nice sloped surface. Add grass clippings, compost, manure, straw, leaves, mulch, and other desired layers. Seedlings are planted on the surface for easy harvesting.
Need a smaller bed? Try using the same technique but framing your logs instead of entrenching. Your bed can be as small as 2-3 feet wide, if desired.