Home vegetable gardens don’t have to be blah. I hate the feeling of picking vegetables out of a garden that is so cramped that I can barely fit between the rows of tomato plants. I feel like the bugs are jumping off the plants onto me while mosquitoes eat me alive as I squeeze through the rows of plants! If you have the room in your yard, a nice, spacious garden with wide walkways is definitely the way to go. I recently installed a gorgeous garden right in my own back yard that I’d love to share with you.
We have about an acre of land, so I was able to make my garden almost 30’x30′ which is nice and roomy! My dad drove up here to Charlotte from Alabama to help me out. He shared with me his gardening expertise. I’m a beginner, having only ever planted tomatoes and flowers before, so I desperately needed his help!
After debating the pros and cons of either tilling or doing raised beds, we decided to do raised beds for several reasons:
- 1. We have a lot of rocks in our soil and tilling sounds like a major undertaking. The first time you till it’s much more difficult. My dad has COPD so I’m not sure he could have done it. I know I couldn’t till that large of an area, especially since I was pregnant when we installed the garden. And my husband was at work most of the time that we worked on this, so he definitely couldn’t either.
- 2. Raised beds can be taken with us if we ever decide to move. The way we built them, we would just simply need to lift the timbers up out of the ground and reinstall them at the new house…that is if the buyer of our home didn’t want to keep them.
- 3. Raised beds are more expensive at first, but probably easier in the long run. No tilling required ever in the future, which I like!
With those reasons in mind, we decided to go with raised beds.
I’m not gonna lie…it was a ton of work! It was exhausting to build this garden, but I couldn’t be more happy with the results so far!
Here are the materials we used to build the raised beds:
- Landscaping timber – these come in 8′ long pieces
- Re-bar – my husband got some re-bar for free from a customer (my husband is in construction), but you can also buy it from Lowe’s
- A good drill with a drill bit that can drill a hole large enough to fit the re-bar. You can rent one from Home Depot if you don’t own one.
- Large sledgehammer for hammering the re-bar into the ground
- Large sheets of black plastic for gardening use – can be purchased at Lowe’s
- Weed killer to kill grass and weeds if you are going to lay down pea gravel in the walkways like we did
- Gardening soil
- Cow Manure
- Peat Moss
- Gardening rake
- Pea Gravel for walkways (optional)
- And lastly, of course, your fruits and veggies!
Here’s how you build it:
- Measure the landscaping timbers and drill holes in the same spot on each timber. We did 3 holes per landscaping timber. Drill the holes large enough to fit your re-bar.
- Arrange your timbers on the ground where you want to install your garden. Create walkways for walking between the raised beds. Make your walkways about 36″ wide. Try and keep your garden symmetrical for beautiful aesthetics. Pre-plan and measure on paper. Here was the plan we made below. As you will see from the plan, we planted mint and marigolds throughout to repel critters since they don’t like the smell of either one:
- Pound the re-bar into the ground using a sledgehammer to keep your first landscaping timber in place. Leave enough space on the re-bar to install 2 more landscaping timbers so that your final product will have 3 landscaping timbers stacked on top of each other. This will ensure your garden beds are deep enough to build a strong root system.
- Once all of your landscaping timbers are installed and the beds are built, then cut your plastic and staple it to the inside of your beds. Let your plastic come up the interior walls of your beds. Staple it onto the wood, using lots of staples! Here’s my son pretending to staple 🙂
- Seal your wood landscaping timbers with wood sealant to keep them from aging and molding!
- With a blade, cut X’s periodically along plastic lining the bottom of your beds to allow for water draining so that you don’t end up drowning your plants!
- Make a border of landscaping timbers (1 timber high) around the perimeter of your garden and fill all walkways with pea gravel. This is expensive to do so if budget is a major concern, beautiful green grass will also be pretty. If your walkways are just grass then you don’t need a border around the perimeter of the garden.
- Now you’re ready to mix your soil mixture and fill the beds! Fill the beds with gardening soil, then divide your soil amount by about 3 and add that amount of cow manure, then add a little peat moss and a little bit of sand. Mix it all up good and then rake the top to make it “pool table smooth” as my dad says. 🙂
- Now comes the fun part…planting! Plan out ahead of time what you will plant and where you will plant it. For my spring/summer garden, I planted corn, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, parsely, cilantro, rosemary, lavender, mint, eggplant, zucchini, squash, onions, jalapenos, okra, strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries! My sister is a master gardener and she told me that lettuce will grow in the shade under my green bean trellis so I planted some lettuce also to make use of that space under the trellis!
The images included here of my garden definitely still need some work! I still haven’t finished filling in all of the walkways with pea gravel. And we still need to staple on mesh to the green bean trellis for the green beans to latch onto and grow up the trellis. Despite the ongoing work that the garden still needs, it already is looking so beautiful and I’m so excited to share it! I’d love for you to share your own gardening ideas in the comments below. This was a real learning experience for me since I’ve never done anything like this at all, so I would really value new ideas from others as well as comments and suggestions as to how I could beautify my garden.