With the help of my dad who has had a long-time green thumb, I built a raised garden this spring. Materials were relatively inexpensive and some of the tips and tricks I learned were very valuable. I have put together a list of the top ten things someone needs when building their garden.
Common tools are essential when building a garden. Not only do you need things like a saw, hammer, drill, staple gun, tape measure, and drill but you need unique tools too. A rototiller is something that I had never heard of until I wanted to build a garden. It’s an amazing tool that turns dirt and land over where grass is. Plotting out the area you want to build the garden is the first step in building a garden from scratch. Measuring out the area with a tape measure is necessary, and using a chalk line or spray paint on the grass is a good way to keep your lines straight when starting. Use a straight shovel and follow the lines you sprayed on the grass to dig your area for the garden. Once that area is plotted out, use the rototiller to turn up the soil that is already there. This will help start the base of the garden and make the perfect space for the garden.
Outdoor wooden timbers are great way to build or raise a garden or flower bed. Home improvement stores sell these timbers for a few bucks a piece and they weather and absorb stain very well. If building the base of the garden and cutting the wood timbers isn’t your style, you can buy kits to build the garden and beds. They come in a variety of sizes and a height, choosing the right kit and wood is very important. If you want raised gardens more than a foot, you will have to buy more timbers to stack them on top of each other. I suggest stacking the timbers about five high for the perfect height. If you are buying a kit then use one with at least 16 inches of height. The higher the garden is the better drainage and root growth. Now that the bed of the garden is built, it needs more than just the turned up old soil that was party of your lawn. If you want to paint or stain your garden boards or kit it is best to have it out in the elements and weather for on full year. I suggest staining the wood the following year you built it, and power washing it first so all the dirt is off.
- Dirt and Soil
Filling your new garden with dirt and soil is the next step when starting a garden from scratch. Don’t buy multiple bags of top soil and dirt, go to your local home improvement store and ask them to deliver dirt to your driveway. Buying regular old top soil is great for a raised garden. Be sure that you don’t have too much clay or sand in your garden if you are using dirt from somewhere else besides a store. Once you have the dirt, you will need to ask some friends to come over to help wheel barrel the dirt from your driveway pile all the way to your garden and dump or shovel it in. This process isn’t fun, but the more people you get to help the faster it will go, it was bar far the most brutal part of building my garden from scratch. If you are thinking that top soil isn’t nutrition enough for a veggie garden you’re wrong, when going to plant the actual veggies you will add fertilized black dirt to the top around the start plants and holes you plant them in. This dirt we need to start with is for getting the rest of the garden going.
Having a proper fence to keep critters out is essential when building a garden. You must put a fence around your garden no matter where you live. Squirrels, moles, and deer all love to eat vegetable gardens, so protecting your garden from animals is a must. There are many different kinds of fences you can use to protect your plants. The plastic five foot green fencing is strong, tall and works well when keeping animals out. If you want a material that is sturdy and with very small openings, a chicken wire fence works great. When setting up your fencing be sure to post all corners down nice and snug agents the wood. Leaving room for a door is also important when setting up your fence.
- Weed cover
Prior to planting your veggies make sure you weed and clean out any growth in your dirt. Once that is done, you should lay down a weed cover or cloth to block any weeds and grass from growing up your garden. These cloths are inexpensive and work wonderful; they let water in but block the unwanted growth. Once the cloth is laid down, you will need to staple the boarder to the wood boards. After the cloth is secure and stapled down, you should cut a slit into all the slots you want you’re to plant your veggies.
Choosing what vegetables to plant in your garden can be a tough. I suggest if you have small garden to grow things you eat a lot of. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs are great place to start in a small garden. If you have a larger garden the plant squash, beans, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and broccoli. If you built more than one garden box, you can plant greens and herbs in one box, and strawberries in another. The options are endless when plants veggies, but have proper equipment to help them grow to their fullest potential is very important too.
- Cages and Lattice
I didn’t realize that having strong sturdy tomato cages around my tomato plants was as important as it is. These cages help the limbs of the tomato plant stay upright and strong enough to hold heavy tomatoes. Latus for growing beans is a must as well! Without them your beans won’t grow, the will be in the dirt, and would be a total waste of money. Growing squash vegetables like zucchini, pumpkin, and eggplant take up a lot of room, so try adding a ladder for the to grow up, or designating one full garden bed to them so they overrun your other plants. If you’re into growing herbs in your garden it is best to start them in small pots then transfer them into your garden. So matter what you chose you will be happy, just as long as you pick them when they are ripe, remember to water them, and never crush or step on them.
- Places to Walk
Having a place to walk while picking your vegetables is something not many people think of when creating their garden. If you’re like me and built one large garden, I need a place to walk after all the veggies have grown into full plants with fruit on them. I suggest using scrap wood or 2×4’s as places to walk. Brick pavers also work great and are large enough for someone to step on. Laying down the pavers or wood prior to planting your veggies is very important, this way the plants are planted around them and you won’t step on anything when you go into harvest the vegetables.
- Rain Barrel
Feeding your garden seems simple, but when time gets away from you after cooking dinner and putting the kids to bed, you may have forgotten to water your garden. Getting a rain barrel close to your garden is not only good for the environment but also convenient for you. Having to pull the hose out from the other side of the house or drag it from the front yard night after night gets old and frustrating, that’s why having a rain barrel with fresh water next to the garden saves you time and energy, but also reminds you to take care of it.
If you’re going to spend all this time and energy on building a garden you have to take care of it. There are more ways than one your garden can slip away from you. Sometimes it’s watering it every night, weeding it if didn’t use a cloth barrier, or harvesting it every few days, your garden go die really quickly. Check out your garden every day and see if it needs anything, check the soil, make sure plants aren’t over grown and taking over other veggies, and help guide the vine plants up the trellis.
After putting in all this work, make sure you take care of it year after year. Investing in all the wood, dirt, and plants is a big deal so a garden that is taken care of can last for many years.