DIY Gardening Projects | An Introduction to Building Raised Beds

Creating raised beds in your garden is a great way to add more growing space and will give you lots of benefits. Not only are raised beds attractive additions to any garden, they are relatively easy to maintain and are more accessible to gardeners with mobility issues. Also, you can build raised beds at any time of the year.

Finding materials to build raised beds is easy. Places such as Macblair Building Merchants stock all the essentials you will need for creating your own raised beds, from sleepers to soil and gravel to tools. But where do you start? Here is an introduction to building raised beds.


Before you begin, think about what you want to grow in your raised beds because different plants need different conditions to thrive. Flowers, for instance, don’t need as much soil as trees or root vegetables, which both require a deeper bed of at least 60cm. Some plants prefer alkaline soil, whilst others will grow better in more acidic environments. Also think of the position of your beds. Most flowers, vegetables, and fruit crops require direct sun, so ensure your beds are located within the south-facing area of your garden and out of the shade.

It’s a good idea to build raised beds on free-draining ground. If this isn’t possible, ensure you add drainage holes. Also think about any access paths and ensure there’s plenty of space for you to walk around your raised beds.

Dig in

Once you’ve established where you want your raised beds to be and what you want to plant, you can start to get stuck in. Measure out a square or rectangular space with a length of string, marking the four corners with pegs. Next, dig a shallow trench in the space within the string shape.

Level out

Be sure to level the ground, using a spade to ruffle and break up the soil. Hammer retaining stakes into the corners, using a spirit level so that they’re straight. Next, secure timber panels or sleepers into the sides of the trench, ensuring they align with each other both horizontally and diagonally. We advise using timber as it’s versatile and easy to attach to the retaining stakes with screws. It’s worth looking out for ready-made sleeper kits, which are simple to assemble and are ideal for beginners.

Add the soil

Once your structure is secure in place, it’s time to add the soil. Firstly, add pebbles and organic material, such as leaves. This will help with drainage and composting. You can also make holes around the bottom to help further with drainage – this is essential if the base is solid. If your bed is less than 40cm deep, you can now put in the topsoil. For a raised bed that’s deeper, put in a sub-soil before adding the top soil and ensure it’s mixed with manure or fertiliser. Compact the soil as you add the layers until the soil nears the top of the timber walls.


You should wait around two weeks to let the soil settle before you plant anything. After that, your raised beds are ready and you can start planting. 


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