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Raised beds

At 71 nature is beginning to take its tole 😥so I’m thinking of changing my veg plot to raised beds. The plot is roughly 18 ft long (N to S) and 15 ft wide (E to W) in a pretty sheltered area.

Width wise I’m thinking 2x4.5 ft with a 2ft walkway between each bed with the final one taking up whatever is left but with a full 18 ft run.

My thinking is that 18 ft is probably a little bit long of a run; it may encourage people to step over the bed rather than use a walkway between them so I’m thinking of 2x8.5 ft beds with a space of 2 ft as a way through. Height 18 or 24 inches? Would that appear sensible ?  

Another possibility could be a number of smaller beds nearest my house, pallet size with an 18 inch break between each. I have a number of pallets and have excess to more if needed

As far as the longer beds are concerned I’ve been reading about plastic wood. Anyone ever used the product and what would your thoughts on it be.

As always thanks for any help you can offer and please feel free to make other suggestions.



  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,354
    Hi Kevin,

    2ft seems too narrow for a useful growing space. 4ft is the traditional width of a raised bed, so you can reach the middle comfortably from either side, but if you think that is too much, go for 3ft. Mine are around 8ft long and I’m not tempted to step over them.

    My paths are 2ft wide but I wished I had made them a little wider, as you can only go one way with a wheelbarrow and its tricky to turn the barrow to tip manure etc., into the beds. 

    In terms of future proofing, think about the height too. Bending down does get more difficult as time goes on, so the higher you make them the easier it will be to plant and weed.

    Hope that helps.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,396
    Nollie's right.  Can't get a lot of cabbages in 2' wide beds but in 4' wide beds you not only save on timber costs but you can get 3 cabbages across.  It will also help with soil quality as 2' will dry out more quickly.  

    Make the path wide enough to turn a corner with your wheelbarrow without bashing plants or tipping out the contents.  When you're putting in the vertical supports to hold up your timber, make them tall enough at the corners to control a hosepipe so it doesn't lie across the beds and flatten plants.  Useful for attaching netting and cloches too.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • kah22kah22 Posts: 12
    Hi guys, sorry if you picked me up wrong.

    I’m planing on having 2 beds each approx 4.5 feet wide. The length been about 15 feet.

    There will be a patch of ground left over which would accommodate a two foot bed but that is just to use up the left over space

    Apologies if I’ve misled you

    And by the way what do you think of plastic wood

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,396
    It won't rot but I'd rather have real wood.

    Unless you have very long arms, 4' will be easier to manage than 4.5, especially when bending and stretching become less easy.   I would shorten the 15' to allow a bed 3' x 4' or even 4 x 4 in the leftover space and grow a permanent crop such as rhubarb in it if it's shady or artichokes or Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary, thymes, sage etc if it's sunny.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • herbaceousherbaceous E. BerksPosts: 2,278
    My lovely brother bought me plastic raised beds @kah22 and I love them. Real wood is better looking but so expensive and I would still be gardening on an incline! As it is I have used the beds ( 1m X 1m ) to terrace and now when I water it goes down into the ground instead of running down the hill, great!

    My only criticisms would be that they slightly deform with the soil in and they get very hot at the edges - otherwise brilliant.
    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,354
    Ah, I see, 2 quantity of 4.5 ft wide beds, got you! 

    You might just end up over-stretching with 4.5 width. There is also a correlation with height (which you did mention). The higher the bed the less you can comfortably stretch over, at least I think that’s the right way ‘round... perhaps the best bet is to mock up something with bricks and planks of wood or similar, then try it for size, so to speak.

    With the plastic wood, aside from the deforming issue (double the usual number of support posts might solve that), you can’t lean or sit on on the edges, whereas if you use railway sleepers, they are sturdy enough and wide enough so you can plonk yourself on the edges. A big outlay, though.

    It is ultimately down to your personal finances, preference and mobility, but definitely consider making the paths wider. That’s one thing you will not regret. Wide and level paths will help avoid trips and knocks as well as aiding mobility.
  • kah22kah22 Posts: 12
    Good points re the width; I think you are correct about keeping the width at 4 feet

    I’ll have to cost the plastic wood once the holiday is over

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