Level of expertise needed
Gardening in a raised bed means less bending; ideal for people with bad backs
- Timber, e.g. softwood sleepers or reclaimed hardwood
- Spirit level
- Measuring tape
- Rubber mallet and small trowel
- Electric drill and coach screws
- Bricks, rubble and mortar mix
On clay soils, a raised bed will give improved drainage.
Dig out strips of turf wide enough to accommodate the timbers. Pressure-treated softwood sleepers are an economical alternative to hardwoods like oak.
Lay the timbers out in position and check that they are level using a spirit level. Check the levels diagonally between timbers as well as along their length
Ensure the corners are at right angles by checking the diagonals are equal in length. For a perfect rectangular or square bed, it’s worth having the timbers pre-cut to size when you buy them.
Using a rubber mallet, tap the wood so that it butts up against the adjacent piece; it should stand perfectly level and upright according to the readings on your spirit level.
Drill through the end timbers into the adjacent pieces at both the top and bottom to accommodate a couple of long, heavy-duty coach screws. Screw firmly into position, securing the base ready for the next level to be built.
Arrange the next set of timbers, making sure these overlap the joints below to give the structure extra strength. Check with a spirit level before screwing in the final set of fixings, as for step 5.
If you want to grow plants that love good drainage (such as alpines), fill the base with builders’ rubble or chippings. Fill the bed up nearly to the top with topsoil and compost.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UKâs leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyoneâs life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.