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Raised Bed Liners

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  • I lose a lot of water from my raised bed, particularly on the south side. I am currently thinking about lining the south side to the top with old compost bags (it's already lined further down), and additionally put old old sheets of polystyrene between the plastic and the wood, primarily to prevent the soil at the side of the bed heating and drying in the summer (it's over a metre high, so has a lot of side!)
  • WildFlower_UKWildFlower_UK Posts: 236
    edited November 2020
    I love that people have been high jacking this discussion for years! I'm jumping in too. I've just picked up, for free, these two large crates which I'd like to turn into raised beds/planters. They're roughly 100cm long, 75cm wide and 65cm high. The plan is to place these directly on top of grass (turf will be overturned just to help sink them more into the ground and to help suppress weeds) next to a another raised bed I'll be making from scaffold boards.


    Question is how to line them. I presume I'll need to reduce the number of large gaps in the sides with some more wood planks? And then just line them with compost bags or other plastic on the sides? I'll probably try and remove some of the height by sawing off above the middle horizontal post.
    "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need"
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,836
    What @philippasmith2 said.
    If you don't fill them in - they'll look pretty rough, and the plastic lining will eventually give way with the weight of soil.
    Fine if it's for veg or something, and you aren't going to see them -if they're behind a shed/hedge or similar, , but not if you want them to be more ornamental.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks @philippasmith2 and @Fairygirl - both pretty much what I thought. The beds will be visible in our small garden, and although I'm not worried about a manicured look, something that looks half falling apart isn't ideal! I'll get my hands on some pallet panels to fill the gaps in a bit, before lining and filling with soil (and veg!).
    "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need"
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,836
    They wouldn't need to be absolutely solid either - just enough so that the gaps are small.
    Another thing you could do if there's still gaps [depending on how the budget is, and whether you can be bothered!] is to line first with landscape fabric, so that it shows on the outside, rather than the plastic. A 'dull' finish is less obvious than shiny plastic, and would look more stylish. A good staple gun is a necessity  ;)

    In fact - any material would do, if you had something suitable.   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Hi! I’m hijacking also. I have recently got an allotment, and I wanted to do raised beds for next spring. My plan was to cover the plot in landscaping felt and put raised beds on top, suppressing the weeds underneath and then giving the cardboard/manure/compost in the raised beds months to break down/settle before I use them to plant. Thoughts on this? Should I lift the landscaping felt and put the raised beds directly on the soil underneath? There are So many conflicting websites and ideas out there I’m now starting to doubt myself!!! 

    The soil underneath is full of large stones, and not ideal to directly grow in. In the image, I plan on putting the raised beds (made from pallet collars) on the left And right of the path. The ones already there on the right are ones which I did just put into the
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,836
    It's a 'how long is a piece of string' scenario.  :)
    The height of the beds will depend on what you intend growing, and therefore the depth of soil they need.
    Landscape fabric is no use as a base though, unless the bed has sufficient depth for plant roots, as it will just prevent the roots getting access to the soil below easily. For that reason, you would put the beds directly on the soil surface, and you could use the cardboard on the base, filling with manure and organic matter which will settle and rot down well over winter. 
    If you weren't going to use the plot until spring, you could keep  the area covered with the fabric, which will also warm the soil up a little bit, and then construct and fill the beds  in late winter/spring, again depending on what you're growing.
    It's always worth lining the timber with plastic. Old compost bags are ideal. It helps prevent rotting, and also aids water retention, as raised beds tend to drain more quickly.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....



    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • KeenOnGreenKeenOnGreen Posts: 1,831
    @secret_gardener_  Our allotment had the same issues with lots of stones.  We removed most of them manually (a dull job).  The stones won't add any nutrition for plants, and any plant roots will have to work their way around them.  Things like Carrots won't grow successfully in stony soil.  If you can get rid of the stones, and replace that space with manure/compost, you will have a much more productive plot.  You don't need to get every single one out (you need some gravel sized stones for good drainage), but anything you would consider a pebble/stone is best removed.

    As @Fairygirl says, your beds should really be directly on the soil.  This will allow worms and other critters to go upwards and downwards from your bed and into the soil, improving overall soil health and drainage.  It will also mean you can plant deep rooted veggies. 

    We only use weed suppressing membrane on our paths, which are then covered in bark chips.  You can see our raised beds below (bought from 
    WWW.SCAFFOLDING-DIRECT), which we covered in black plastic.  One plank deep is sufficient for most people, but if your soil is really bad, then you could build two planks high, and fill in with better quality soil.


    Don't make your paths in between the beds too narrow, otherwise kneeling to weed is very uncomfortable.  It's also better (IMO) to only make raised beds no wider than 1 metre, so that you can comfortably reach both sides of the bed from either side.  It makes weeding and other crop maintenance much easier.
  • Thanks @Fairygirl and @KeenOnGreen. I should’ve been a bit clearer - I was going to make higher raised beds to accommodate the roots (possibly 2 or 3 pallet collars high) since the soil underneath is so bad. I mean it’s like pebbles more than stones because it would appear at one point someone out a pebble path in to the depth of about a foot 🙈 I started digging them out, but it felt like I was going to break through to Australia pretty soon..... 

    the weeds were also something I thought to just use landscape fabric as a total barrier. Perhaps I should leave the fabric down until late winter like you say and then build the raised beds then. Should I not leave the organic matter and compost for a few months before planting anything though? 
  • An old thread, I know, but given the 'controversy' about lining the walls of the raised bed with plastic, has anyone come across something to paint the inside of the wood to preserve it, that is natural or chemical free.  I've found something on an American website, which is soy-based, but don't think it's sold in the UK
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