Get ideas for your own raised-bed garden from these highly functional yet highly stylish designs
Written byLauren Dunec Hoang, Sharon Cohoon, and Julie ChaiApril 16, 2015
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Thomas J. Story
1 of15Thomas J. Story
Ultimate DIY raised bed
Raised garden beds, essentially large planting boxes, are the ultimate problem solver—they offer perfect drainage, protection from pests, and easy access to crops. A raised bed is just the thing to turn your backyard into the farm of your dreams. Follow our directions you’ll be able to complete this easy project in one weekend.
Constructing raised garden beds out of food-safe Cor-ten steel gives an edgy style to the edible garden. The silver foliage of variegated thyme and purple leaves of Thai basil complement the rust color of the steel. The beds reach 24-inches high to allow enough planting space for a dwarf pomegranate tree.
Thomas J. Story
3 of15Thomas J. Story
A simple trellis of wire mesh and bamboo stakes provides support for pole beans in a 4-by-8 foot raised bed. Adding a vertical structure expands the available planting area and doubles as an attractive architectural element in the garden.
4 of15Marion Brenner
Plant herbs in a tiered raised bed for a great look and easy access.
Thomas J. Story
5 of15Thomas J. Story
Set in the sunniest side of the yard, a grid of 4-by-8 foot raised garden beds in Santa Barbara provides growing space for a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Homeowner Valerie Rice (author of the garden-to-table blog eat-drink-garden.com), wanted the vegetable garden to be both attractive and highly productive. Rice amends the beds each planting season with compost, worm castings, and kelp meal to insure that plants have enough nutrients to thrive. Gravel between the beds keeps the garden looking neat and tidy.
6 of15Ann Summa
Free-form corrugated steel
We love the look of corrugated metal as a raised bed. Here’s how to make your own.
7 of15Jennifer Cheung
Raised beds provide better drainage and aeration than in the ground and makes harvesting easier. In this garden, 80 pounds of tomatoes were produced by one 4- by 4-foot raised bed.
8 of15Rachel Weill
This raised bed measures only 2-feet wide but extends 12-feet long giving plenty of growing room for bright gold Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’, German chamomile, culinary thyme, and sunflowers. The narrow width makes it easy to reach into the bed to cutting flowers and herbs.
Save space and increase crop yields by growing potatoes in towers instead of letting them sprawl on the ground. Plant seed potatoes 6-inches apart in a 16-inch diameter circle. To build the towers, curve galvanized metal mesh into cylinders measuring 18-inches in diameter and 4-feet tall. Secure in place with rebar and wrap the outside with bamboo screening. As the potato plants grow, add layers of straw and compost covering all but the uppermost leaves exposed. When the plants have reached the top of the tower and it’s time to harvest, lift the cage to collect the tubers—which will cascade down in a perfect pile.
On a sunny, narrow stretch of land, newbie gardener Reed Davis installed modular boxes and then planted them, taking notes and photographing each step along the way. In spite of some glitches—like squirrels eating the watermelons—the project’s success became abundantly clear within a few months. “I get so much produce out of the garden that it makes me giddy sometimes,” says Davis.
When they decided to start a garden in their front yard, Mike Greenfield, a longtime gardener, focused on planting as many crops as possible, while Elaine Uang, an architect, wanted to make sure everything looked good. She came up with an overall plan, then brought in collaborators to complete their vision. Now the couple can harvest something whenever they’re hungry‚ whether peppers for lunchtime salads or melon for dessert; even their 18-month-old daughter helps with picking. And by having edibles in front, they’ve met neighbors who grow food too, so they now swap crops. Metalwork and planting plan: BaDesign, Oakland (badesignlab.com). Planting and care: Star Apple Edible + Fine Gardening, Oakland (starappleediblegardens.com)
14 of15Steven Gunther
Arranged in neat squares around a center fountain, raised planting boxes frame herbs and veggies and complement a contemporary kitchen garden.