When making a raised garden bed, you want to make sure you give your plants the best start they can get. Clearly, this means you want good soil, but what about the bottom of your garden bed?
Generally, you should put organic matter, such as straw or fallen leaves, on the bottom of a raised garden bed if you’re growing vegetables. This organic matter helps keep vegetable plants fertilized. Alternatively, a raised flower garden requires rich soil that can retain moisture, without soaking the plants.
Proper garden bed layering is essential if you want to build a garden that will last for many years. Read on for some easy steps and information to help you get started with plant care!
Different Types of Gardens Require Various Layering Materials
The first thing to do is determine what type of garden you are trying to grow.
Are you cultivating flowers? Is this going to be an herb garden? Do you want to start a vegetable garden for your family? The possibilities are endless.
However, each of these types of plants requires different kinds of soil and nutrients. You need to set your bed up for that specific variety of plants, starting at the bottom.
For example, if you want to set up a cactus bed, you need to pick soil with excellent drainage and aeration. It should have a high sand content and be pebbly. It would also help if you put larger rocks at the bottom of your raised beds to help with that drainage and aeration.
If you are growing a vegetable garden, you need to make sure the soil is balanced.
Too much nitrogen will make the plants themselves grow great, but the harvest will be less than appealing. They will still be edible, but they will be much smaller than if they had been given other types of nutrition.
It would be best if you struck a balance to make sure that the whole plant grows well. The best thing to do is buy some vegetable-specific potting soil. These are specially designed to give your plants what they need to grow and give you healthy harvests.
One potting soil I recommend is the Dr. Earth Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer Poly Bag on Amazon.com. It is specifically formulated for vegetable growing and ensuring that your plants have everything they need to thrive.
For the bottom of your bed, I recommend some form of compostable material. A great way to save money is to collect fallen leaves from the autumn months and keep them for your beds, whether you’ll be laying new beds or preparing your existing beds for spring.
Flower gardens also need different blends and can be very sensitive to other environmental factors.
For example, roses need much more fertilizer than other plants, and specifically, they need rich loamy soil that will hold onto the water without keeping them constantly soaked. The soil also needs to be able to drain and also retain nutrition.
Perform thorough research before you start building your garden bed and before you select your plants. If you can’t give your plants what they need to survive, your hard work will end in frustration.
Consider the Purpose of Your Raised Garden Bed
There are many reasons why raised garden beds are beneficial to your outdoor space. They can prevent weed growth, serve as a secure structure to keep animals and other pests away from your plants, and they’re aesthetically pleasing.
Depending on the reasons you choose to install a raised garden bed, you’ll need to adjust the layering materials accordingly to ensure the optimal growth of your plants.
Preventing Weed Growth
If you are trying to prevent weed growth, a layer of plain cardboard at the bottom is a great, biodegradable option.
The density of the cardboard is too much for most weeds to get through; therefore, it is an effective weed barrier, especially when you are on a budget.
However, you should ensure that the cardboard has been thoroughly cleaned and that it hasn’t been treated with any dangerous chemicals.
These chemicals can get into your plants and the harvest you want to collect.
The chemicals can also be dangerous to your plants and cause them to die or have a shorter season than they would otherwise have. Many plants are a lot more delicate than people assume them to be, so while cardboard is a great option, make sure it is free of chemicals.
Preventing Pest Interference
If you want to prevent pest interference, you want to put some other guard on the bottom.
If you are concerned about other, larger pests, you might want to pick a chain-link or mesh fence option to keep them from digging up into the bed. Layer the chain-link first and then follow it with a layer of rocks.
Start with a layer of larger wood and then fill in the gaps with increasingly smaller sizes. These will make sure that nothing will get through the coating and up into your plant’s roots.
For more minor pests, you want to layer the bottom with some cloth. Ideally, it should have a significant thread count or have a denser weave. Cotton cloth would be a good, biodegradable choice.
If you want something more durable and long-lasting, you should look for a plastic or blend landscape fiber in your local gardening section. They should be listed with the weed protection gear. They come in larger rolls and can be shipped as well.
One excellent option that can be shipped to you is the AHG Garden Weeds Premium Series Landscape Fabric on Amazon.com. It makes sure that your plants will be protected for upwards of two years and can be cut down to custom sizes and shapes for any flower bed.
After you have laid the bottom of your garden bed, you should make sure to examine your soil frequently. That way, you can keep an eye out for any contamination, pest, or disease. Catching these issues early can save your plants.
When selecting what to put at the bottom of your raised garden bed, you need to make sure that you know exactly what plants you want to grow. Thorough research will make sure that you can take care of your plants in the best way possible and provide layering materials that are the most suitable.
If you want plants to grow without interference from pests, layer heavy materials. If you’re going to prevent weeds, layer a dense barrier over the bare earth that will prevent weeds from growing through.
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