Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed

Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed

Raised beds are great for growing vegetables, fruit and flowers and are especially useful if your soil is wet or poorly-drained. They’re also handy for gardeners with bad backs

Level of expertise needed

Intermediate

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Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed

Gardening in a raised bed means less bending; ideal for people with bad backs

Equipment


  • 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.

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Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed


Step 1

Dig out strips of turf wide enough to accommodate the timbers. Pressure-treated softwood sleepers are an economical alternative to hardwoods like oak.

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Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed


Step 2

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

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Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed


Step 3

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.

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Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed


Step 4

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.

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Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed

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Step 5

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.

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Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed


Step 6

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.

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Get growing with the RHS: How to make a raised bed


Step 7

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.

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.

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