Whether you're sharing limited space in a community garden or you're just looking for a convenient way to control the plants in your own backyard, a platform garden bed is a great option for anyone looking to simplify their gardening time. The good news is that you can easily create a DIY version with a short list of supplies and a few simple steps.
Why Build a Platform Garden Bed?
Raising your garden bed up off the ground provides a range of benefits that make it well worth the effort. By lifting your garden up off the ground, you'll be giving your back, neck and knees a much-needed break. Gardening requires constant bending, hunching and kneeling, so an elevated work space makes for a more pleasant way to plant, care for and cultivate your herbs, flowers or crops.
Also, fewer weeds are known to sprout up in raised beds. You'll have full control over the type of soil you use and the condition it stays in when it's all kept in one easy-to-maintain box, however big or small.
How to Build a Raised Garden Bed
There are several ways to create a platform garden by yourself, but let's focus on two of the easiest and most affordable examples: the cinder block bed and the wood pallet bed. You can almost always find the supplies for either of these designs for free on your favorite up-cycling or local sales website, like Craigslist. You may even be able to find supplies for free by exploring the area behind local warehouses. Just take care to seek out untreated or unpainted varieties, particularly if you're planning to grow food.
A platform garden bed made from one or more pallets is a fantastic way to keep seedlings properly spaced and growing in a tidy line. Once you've got your pallet, simply staple a thick fabric or drop cloth around the edges to prevent soil spillage. Place a layer of newspaper down on a flat, sturdy plot of ground. This will enrich your soil after it disintegrates. Rest your pallet directly on top of the paper, then fill the pallet with topsoil. Place seeds or starter plants in the open spaces between the wooden slats. Sun and water your plants and wait for growth.
Cinder blocks can also make for a unique and fun way to build a garden. Begin by building a box-shaped bed out of the blocks stacked at least two high (the higher you build, the easier it will be to garden). Reinforce the walls by connecting the blocks with a strong adhesive. Fill the square or rectangle-shaped garden with soil, compost and the plants or seeds of your choosing.
If you don't have a ton of cinder blocks at your disposal, you can still create a bed by turning the blocks onto their sides with the openings face up. Fill the holes with soil and insert seeds, plants or clippings into the make-shift pots. Push as many cinder blocks as you like together to create a grouping or stack them on top of each other to create more depth for roots to travel for larger plants. Remember that some plants need to crawl to grow, so for stacking or vertical gardens, steer clear of traveling plants like mint, thyme and varieties of squash.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Always make sure the ground is leveled out and any loose soil is packed down well to ensure a stable foundation for your platform garden bed. Because platform garden beds are handmade, you'll have to take extra care to make sure your crops are getting enough water and nutrition. Adding compost or compostable material such as paper or cardboard to your soil will help ensure that your plants will get all the essential vitamins and minerals they need to grow strong. Finally, make sure your bed is in a position to give your plants the sunlight they'll need to survive and thrive, making for a full, flourishing garden for seasons to come.