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Raised Veg beds design & construction

Hi there.

I'm after some guidance on a vegetable patch I'm planning.

We recently moved into a house that had a large paly park at the bottom of the garden.  This is a barked area measuring approximately 5m x 5m.  I've now dismantled the park and am left with the area and thought to use to grow vegetables.  I was thinking of constructing 3 raised bed measuring 1m x 3m and 60 cm deep.  The current plan is to construct these out of marine ply and clad in something more visually appealling.  

Does this sound reasonable?  

One final point is that the area is relatively shady - it doesn't get much direct sunlight until the afternnon.  From research it looks like as long as I'm selective about what I plant I should be fine but would appreciate opinions from here.


Thanks in advance for any advice.



  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    Rather than ply use scaffold boards - stronger. You can then clad them or just paint them in a pleasant colour

    You should be able to grow plenty of veg and get the crop rotation going with 3 beds.

    Not very good on what to grow veg wise, but I am sure others on here will helpimage

  • Hi Smokey,

    You will be able to grow lettuce (better in some shade as it doesn't tend to go to seed so quick), kale, brocolli, cauliflower, sprouts, peas, beans, spinach, beets, swiss chard etc.

    Why so deep for the raised beds?  2 feet is rather a lot unless you are on a hard surface and not high enough to make a difference if you have knee or back problems. 1 foot deep (300mm) is plenty and so is 6 inches so long as you dig over.  Also, it is easier to make the beds 1.2m x 2.4m because of the popular timber pre-cut lengths.

    As for what timber to use - marine ply - although rot resistant - won't be strong enough (if the bed half fills with rain at 1m x 3m x .6m it will weigh 9 tonnes with water alone).  I would go with scaffold boards if you can get them or decking.

  • Good shout on the scaffold boards.  Hadn't thought of that.  

    The thinking behind the depth was due to what is there already.  Currently in the area is covered in an old layer of play area bark to a depth of about 4-5 inches with a membrane underneath.  This has compacted down over the years.  Rather than dig it up I was thinking of simply laying another membrane and using gravel (well, slate) over the top as we prefer the look.  This would mean that the bed was sat straight on top of bark and a membrane rather than soil.  Hence I thought it might need to be a bit deeper, although now you say it 2 feet sounds a bit too deep.

  • When I was designing my garden I was unaware the builders who had renovated our house had buried the old roof, asbestos and all, underneath the turf exactly where I was intending to grow edible stuff.  I had no viable alternative except to adapt my plan to raised beds, which actually has worked out brilliantly anyway as its much easier to segregate and tend plants in discrete sections. All of my beds are 12 inches deep and I haven't come across anything yet that hasn't found that sufficient to thrive in. Besides, the cubic capacity of the beds is surprisingly huge. I honestly wouldn't want to have to fill beds any deeper than necessary image

  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 BristolPosts: 1,531

    Scaffold boards about £5.00 each from a local company plus delivery costs

    They are solid and you can forget about painting as they are pressure treated and low maintenance

    Make them just wide enough so you can get to the middle to weed

    There is a How To video on this website

    Everyone is just trying to be Happy.
  • My beds are about a foot deep and that seems plenty. They're on a soil base. The optimum width is from about 1.2 to 1.5 metres - anything wider and you won't be able to reach across to tend them.

    Brassicas are the one thing I have trouble with, as the soil is too loose (that and the endless pests that brassicas are prey to). Eyerything else does well - carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, peas, beans, salads, fruit canes, asparagus ...

  • Another option is using railway sleepers to make your raised beds. They come in lots of different lengths and should fit your project. For ideas try:
    and for some help in construction try:

    All the best.

  • Only problem with sleepers is the creosote a lot of the old ones were painted with - it's very poisonous.

    If you put your beds on top of the membrane plants will still grow well with a foot deep of soil.  

    However it's a lot of soil/compost to fill them. 1m x 3m x 0.3m = 900 litres of soil each and you want 3 = 2700 litres.


  • I built mine from unwanted decking boards, see the thread for pics image

    Worked really well and still look in good nick

  • floraliesfloralies Haute-Garonne SW FrancePosts: 984

    I would just add that if you have them too deep you will need alot more soil/compast to fill them up as the levels will go down over the year. Also leave enough space in between the beds to get your wheelbarrow through.

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