Life in Portland Blog

DIY Spring Garden Prep: How to Make Raised Flower Beds

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Everything You Need to Know to Build Raised Flower Beds for Spring

Is your garden looking a little lackluster from winter’s chill? Don’t dismay, because visions of beautiful spring blooms are just around the corner, and now’s the perfect time to start planning for your spring garden!

This year, we anticipate that raised flowerbeds will once again be all the rage, so why not jump on the bandwagon early? You’ll be the envy of your ‘hood with DIY garden beds, so let’s get to work! Here’s everything you need to know about building your own DIY garden beds for spring.

Wood Buying 101 for Raised Flower Beds

While you can use a range of materials to build your own raised garden beds, we highly recommend wood for its cheap cost and relative longevity. When you’re searching for wood, there are a couple things you want to keep in mind: for starters, make sure you choose untreated wood.

Our go-to choices for untreated wood include Black Locust – it’s rot-resistant and great for raised garden boxes as it can last up to 20 years. Or Cedar — it’s cheaper than Black Locust wood, but it’s still rot-resistant. Just keep in mind that the wood has a slightly shorter lifespan of 10-15 years. However, cedar raised flowerbeds are gorgeous.

If you’re on a budget, opt for Douglas Fir. As a cost-saving option, you can build a stunning DIY flowerbed using thick 2 inch wood for less than $75. Our advice? Buy enough wood so you can build your raised flowerbed to 14 inches tall. Whether you have enough space for 10 foot or 16 foot long boxes, that’s up to you.

Another tip: if you want to create something unique and vintage-inspired, you can use old wood from railroads to create DIY raised flowerbeds. It’s easy to find old railroad ties, just make sure that they aren’t full of oil!

Best Plant Choices for Raised Flower Beds

Not all plants thrived in raised beds, but there are many flowers and vegetables that will do well in your DIY spring garden. If you’re planning for longevity, fill your raised flowerbeds with perennials. For spring blooms, we recommend jonquil-type daffodils or hellebores (Lenten Rose). The daffodils will grow in clumps, and increase in size in beauty over the years, and the hellebores have a long period of bloom.

If veggies are more your thing, know that root vegetables will flourish in raised beds. In terms of density, carrots, radishes, and beets or parsnips will do well in the compacted, rock-free soil. Without clay and debris fighting for space, the veggies will grow strong in your DIY garden beds.

Best Soil Practices for Raised Flower Beds

Speaking of soil, what kind of soil should you use when planting in a raised flowerbed?

According to Mike McGrath from NPR’s “You Bet Your Garden,” it’s suggested that you use “a raised bed mixture consisting of 50% screened topsoil and 50% high-quality compost. These two ingredients should be mixed together well (not layered), and once in place will never need to be tilled.”

Other experts suggest using a mix of “1/3 coarse horticultural vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 blended compost.” Whichever soil method you use, make sure that compost is an ingredient!

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Get to Work on Crafting Your Raised Flower Beds

It might be a bit early to start planting the contents of your raised flower beds, as you’ll want to wait until days of seeing frost on your lawn are over before the plants go outdoors. However, now’s the perfect time to start building your raised garden beds so that they’ll be firm and ready to start planting your plants at the beginning of April.

Pro tip: start planting your seeds indoors in March — this will give your plants the ammunition to bloom beautifully in the months ahead.

Happy planting!

[image via: whyy.org]