Easy to work in, easy to look at!
For those of us closing in our “golden years”, the stooping, kneeling and bending in the garden can spoil the fun. But before you retire those trowels and gloves, consider raised beds as a solution.
Instead of digging down, build up. A raised bed garden can be anywhere from a few feet off the ground to eye-level. You can build (or buy) multi-sided raised beds, or you can use an existing wall or side of a garage as part of your raised bed’s structure. Gardener’s Supply Company offers a wide array of raised beds.
Raised beds can be enclosed with brick, stone, wood, concrete blocks or even hay bales.
Depending on the depth of your raised bed and base surface, place sand or gravel at the bottom to allow for good drainage, then a layer of leaves or straw and if available, a layer of old manure, and fill it with garden soil and/or compost. The bottom layers of leaves /straw and manure will decompose in time, creating an even healthier soil. However, you’ll then need to add in more soil over time. If you use rocks or large stones to create your raised bed, add a layer of landscape fabric along the stones to hold the soil.
Raised beds are ideal for vegetable gardening in part because the soil warms up more quickly in the spring and can be easily worked. This year we added a raised bed just for salad greens and herbs – things that we pick daily. The raised vegetable bed makes it much easier to snip salad greens at a moment’s notice and the greens seem to stay cleaner than plants that are directly in the ground.
These types of beds are also are perfect for flowers and ornamentals. Specimen plants such as gardenias, Flower Carpet roses, Gerberias, Festival ‘Burgundy’ Cordyline and Lantanas can work nicely on their own. Pansies and petunias are a joy to tend and pick without stooping. Or, planted against a north wall in partial shade, you might try a fern garden or a simple shade garden with bleeding hearts, hostas and other shade lovers. If your bed is high enough, don’t forget to add a few trailing plants like nasturtium, alyssum, or prostrate rosemary to add a bit of texture and interest.
Have you created any eye-level or raised bed gardens? If so, we’d love to hear about them or see photos (which you can post on our Your Easy Garden Facebook pages).