When our forefathers set foot in the New World, they had neither the time nor the inclination to create elaborate raised beds to impress the neighbours. They did however, raise herbs and vegetables in simple raised beds bordered with saplings or fallen trees. By following their example, you can create functional and attractive raised beds for flowers, herbs and vegetables. Using natural resources to create the foundation of your raised bed saves you money and protects the environment at the same time.
Mark the desired location for your raised bed. Optimum size is no wider than 4 feet as this allows you to reach the centre of the bed from both sides. If you intend to place your raised bed against an existing structure, such as a fence or building, keep the width to 2 feet or less. Length can be any size, but many prefer 6 to 8 feet.
Walk the perimeter of your property looking for dead or dying trees or fallen logs that are suitable for making the border of your raised bed. Those with a diameter of 6 to 8 inches work best, as they do not require stacking, but smaller logs can be stacked to create the border, if a deeper bed is desired.
Cut the logs to the desired length, if necessary. Logs do not need to be professionally cut. A simple straight cut with a chainsaw or handsaw is fine.
Place the logs in your marked area for your bed. Secure soil along the logs to prevent rolling, if necessary. Stones can also be used to stabilise logs if rolling is an issue. Butt ends together to form a rectangle.
Fill the area with soil. Mix equal parts garden loam or top soil with aged manure and peat moss to create loose, friable soil. This improves aeration and promotes drainage, as well as improving the texture of the soil.
Add soil in the cracks between the logs and around uneven ends, or tuck moss into the cracks, if preferred. This creates a bed that looks like it has sprang from nature.
Water to saturate the soil and let the soil sit overnight to allow for settling. Refill the bed with more soil once settling is complete.
To enhance the natural elements of using logs, look for those that are moss covered or weathered.
Tips and warnings
- To enhance the natural elements of using logs, look for those that are moss covered or weathered.