Creating raised beds

Project

Raised beds provide many advantages, and are straightforward to construct. They can also improve access in your school garden, and are easy to manage.

  • Estimated time: 120 minutes
  • Location: Outoors
  • School term: All year round, Late Autumn, Early Spring
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Maths, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Learn to design a large structure and learn to plan the components of a project
  • Prepare the ground & build the structure ready for planting 

Preparation

Remember to remove perennial weeds from underneath your raised beds.

If you are building on tarmac cover the area with weed suppressant material first the beds need to be at least 50cm high for this purpose.

Equipment needed

  • Spray paint, garden lines and tape measure to mark out
  • Materials and tools to construct the raised beds. Such as saw, drill, woodscrews, corner posts/stakes and mallet
  • Adult helpers if the project involves younger pupils
  • Top soil to fill the beds, wheelbarrow, shovels, rakes

  1. Identify the space and need for raised beds in your school grounds or garden. Will it be easy to manage in that location? Is it protected or near amenities such as a water point?
  2. Plan where and how you will obtain the materials for it? Are you going to construct the bed from recycled wood, or new? Remember untreated timber will only last one or two years. You could buy a kit of light weight plastic boards? You may need to fundraise for this project. 
  3. Raised beds can greatly increase access in your school garden. Check with wheelchair users which height suits them best. Ensure you leave enough space around the raised bed each side to allow a group of pupils to work comfortably.
  4. If you have a large area, raised beds can make the area more manageable for first time growers and those with poor soil. Involve the rest of the school and pupils in planning which plants they are going to grow in the beds. 

 

Hints & tips

Remember the higher the raised bed the more soil you will need to fill it and it will require more watering during hot weather. Edging boards only need to be 10-20cm tall.

  1. Mark out the area of your raised bed. The best size is 120-150cm wide, so that its easy for everyone to reach the middle.

  2. Once you are happy you have the correct size, dig out and turn the turf to provide soil for the bottom of the raised bed.

  3. Either construct the raised bed in situ or off site. Use new or recycled materials to do this.

  4. Fill your raised beds with sterile topsoil or weed-free garden compost.

  5. Keep adding topsoil until you are happy with its level. Dig in any extra compost at this point to improve soil texture and fertility.

  6. Rake the surface level ready for planting.

  7. Plant your new plants straight into the raised bed.

  8. Alternatively sow some seeds and remember to label them so you know what you have planted.

We've won awards!

Winner of the Drum Marketing Awards 2017
Winner of the ERA 2017 awards
Winner of the Third Sector 2017 awards