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Off-the-peg raised bed recommendations

WildFlower85WildFlower85 Cambridgeshire, UKPosts: 136
We would like to install a raised bed this winter, ready for the spring. Size wise we're fortunate to be a bit flexible, but are looking at a single small bed around the 450-500lt capacity (so around 12inch in height and something like 1x1.5m or 1.2x1.8m). It will be installed on our lawn area, and we plan to simply cut into the turf, turn the turf over and lay the bed kit and soil on top.

Any suggestions for where to buy such a reasonably priced raised bed kit? Looking for personal recommendations. Price wise, ideally up to around £80-£100 max. Wooden bed ideally but would look at non-wood options. It's for vegetables. There's so much choice out there I don't know where to start!


  • You're asking for a kit, but can I suggest you also look at making one yourself? It'll be significantly cheaper and just as easy as you'd still have to construct a kit. You can use decking boards, sleepers or similar, plus a length of treated timber to secure the corners. Brand new the wood would cost perhaps £20 from any store, or my local garden center usually has a huge pile of free-to-take wood from packing, pallets and staging so perhaps yours has the same. Then you can optionally add some membrane around the inside of the wood, and you're done.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    I've never bought one either - always made them. Good fencing timber, posts concreted in at the corners if it's for a bigger one, or some 2 x 2 if it's just a small one. 
    Plastic lined to retain moisture and protect the wood - membrane is no use. That can be old compost bags, which is a good way to use them too.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • WildFlower85WildFlower85 Cambridgeshire, UKPosts: 136
    You're asking for a kit, but can I suggest you also look at making one yourself? 
    This is a very sensible option, and surprisingly not one I had considered despite having built my own planters and cold frame earlier this year! I would need to find a good set of instructions but certainly something to look into. I didn't think wood was that cheap though - especially sleepers?
  • debs64debs64 West Midlands, on the edge of the Black Country Posts: 3,077
    We had small raised beds from B&Q for the allotment. Decent quality for the price and super easy. 
  • WildFlower85WildFlower85 Cambridgeshire, UKPosts: 136
    Fairygirl said:

    Plastic lined to retain moisture and protect the wood - membrane is no use. That can be old compost bags, which is a good way to use them too.  :)
    @Fairygirl. Do you just line the sides to protect the wood, or also the bottom?  I kept some compost bag from earlier in the year so should have enough for a couple of the sides already.

    Also, random question, but how do you get 2x2 into the ground solidly?

    We don't have a heavy duty jigsaw either, but reckon we could ask our brother in law to help and he has one :smile:
  • Just line the wood, not the ground - you want to protect the wood from constant moisture as much as possible.

    Brand new sleepers are relatively expensive, because you're paying for the appearance and aesthetics. But for a "working veg" raised bed, where what you're growing is more important than a clean, styled look, you can pick up old sleepers, boards etc very cheap. I use old pallets and similar for my beds, they last ages and if a bit rots, I just knock it out and replace it. My best find was a bunch of 3ft deep wooden tile crates - I grow root veg in them directly, works perfectly.

    If you don't want to do it with old pallets (which, admittedly, can look a bit haphazard for a garden), then decking is another option. If you get lucky with a special offer, Wickes were doing 2 meter lengths, 2 for £5 last year. A few lengths, a few screws, some posts for the burgers corners and you're done for less than £30! 

    @Fairygirl oh, that's what I meant - what do you call a damp proof membrane up north? The black plasticy stuff? But old compost bags are a much better and zero cost idea, I like that.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    Sorry @strelitzia32 - I thought you meant the landscape fabric stuff  :)
    Yes - anything that isn't porous, but not on the base, as you need drainage.

    My ground is heavy, so a piece of 2 x 2 can be banged in a with a peen hammer, or even an ordinary one, and then the ground pushed back against it. You can shove some of that ready mixed concrete round it though if needed.
    You can also just make a 'box' by attaching timber to the posts. That's really what most of the kits are anyway  :)
    If you want it to be ornamental, add a timber coping too. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • WildFlower85WildFlower85 Cambridgeshire, UKPosts: 136
    Wow thanks @strelitzia32 and @Fairygirl for such great advice. I've asked my brother in law about possible scaffold boards from his work (building construction) and the local timber merchants so hopefully can get my hands on some cheap or free timber that way. If not, I will keep an eye out for decking timber. Sounds easy enough! 

    Another - final - question, which is about the soil mix for the raised beds. I plan to grow some salad/lettuce, beets and green beans in the beds, along with some basil and coriander, so all things that like good moisture I believe. What would be the best soil/compost mix given that I'm starting from scratch? I've started a compost pile this year but there won't be a huge amount for spring 2021, so will need to buy mostly new. And going forward, do I just clear the dead/dying veg plants next Autumn and add a layer of compost to the top to filter in over the winter?
  • @Fairygirl okay so yours puts mine to shame a bit  :D . Old crates? Check. Barely holding together, with nails and straps everywhere? Check. Plastic sheet holding in the compost? Check. 

    @WildFlower85 see if he can get hold of tile crates as well. Below are some of my parsnips, which surprisingly do very well in my carefully designed raised bed  ;) . In a bit of an awkward position in the veg garden for a decent photo, but it does show that with a little work you can grow most veg in almost anything.

    As for mix, for your veg personally I'd fill the bed with compost for the first year, then replace a third each year. However others may advise you to do a topsoil / compost mix. You'll need to plan your planting and succession carefully, as 4ft x 6.5ft isn't massive but is a good space to grow a decent amount. Personally I wouldn't put coriander and basil in the bed - they will do fine in pots or troughs, and the bed space will be better used for the other veg.

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    A basic mix that's soil based is ideal for most plants, but you would then tailor it to suit specific plants if they need different things. Some will need more sun and better drainage etc, and some are better in shade with more dampness. Your basil and coriander will do best in sun and free draining soil, and lettuce prefers a bit more shade and dampness. You may want to have a couple of beds rather than just one   :)

    Home made compost is a soil conditioner, so it's excellent for using in your bed, but it's different from commercial compost that we buy in GCs etc. That has nutrients in it, so offers food for plants, rather than just being a soil conditioner alone. A mix of all will be a great start, and then you can add compost as you go along, as well as any other food that's required.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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