Garden Beds

I’ve pretty much decided on putting in slighty-raised beds in the backyard. The local DIY store sells ‘garden timbers’ that will make a nice & relatively inexpensive boundary around the garden, which will probably keep both my neighbors and the homeowner’s association landscaping police off my back.

The beds themselves will be a couple of inches higher than the surrounding lawn; enough to keep people from accidentally stepping in them (hopefully), while not being so high as to make raking, spading, weeding and other mundane chores too much of a pain in the butt. My plan is to buy enough timber to make a frame around the entire garden area, and then have 12-18 inch-wide paths inside there for moving around and working.  Does this sound like a good plan of attack, or are there some other ideas that you all have found work better?

I’m thinking about putting in fencing of some sort to keep both the local rodentia (rabbits and voles, mostly) out along with our dog, who is well-meaning but nosy, and has large enough paws to do some serious damage chasing balls or animals into the garden. How many of you put some sort of animal fencing around your beds?

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7 Responses to Garden Beds

  1. Sounds like a good plan, particularly if you don’t have thick topsoil. Might want to be a little careful of any preservatives that may have been applied to the timbers. Some of them are toxic to garden plants (ironic, no?)

    I’ve used 24-inch chicken wire to keep out the unwanted. Some of it is visible here and here. Very effective against rabbits.

    In other news, I’m set up to take Dane County’s Master Gardener class starting in Mid February. Hopefully I’ll be a master gardener by this fall…

  2. Errr…here (visible toward the back on the left and the right…)

  3. Beo says:

    We use no fencing, the dogs have not been an issue after some training. But then again, greyhounds and cattle dogs are easy to train and not overly curious. We had a vole family per bed, but they didn’t do much more than eat the bottoms out of some tomatoes-I ended up leaving them the culls anyhow. I felt that a fair price for the joy of seeing them scoot for cover during harvest. Keeping out voles would take something like 1/2″ hardware cloth, buried about 8″, and rabbits would need something 30-36″ high. I choose to plant 30% extra and enjoy the ease of access.

    The timbers sound good if they aren’t treated. I don’t trust even the new AC2 lumber-too many heavy metals to be that close to my organic food. We chose field stone-I trade a weekend in the spring picking rocks in the country with some farmers for all the beautiful stone I want to lug home.
    Here is some of the stone I am using to terrance in 2 more beds:
    http://onestraw.blogspot.com/2006/10/mending-wall.html

  4. Bart says:

    I’ve got a golden retriever that is an occasional digger, hence my worry.

    After a second thought, the voles probably aren’t much of a worry. I was planning on putting some kind of barrier around the main garden patch, and then leaving some fauna-supporting plants on the periphery of my yard to try and give the rabbits, voles and the like some ‘low-hanging fruit’ so to speak.

    My plan is to keep a foot or so of dirt all the way around the inner perimiter as a walking path, but I’ll check out if/how the timbers are treated anyway. Good advice there.

    I’m still thinking about putting the fence in, but perhaps I’ll let it go until there’s an obvious need for it.

  5. Matt says:

    Don’t wait for them to be a problem. Put the fence up early. You can easily staple the 12-24 inch high chicken wire to your beds and then you won’t have to worry about your plants.

    If you design the beds right you wouldn’t need to step in them at all. Why not leave the paths out fo the bed so that they won’t get all muddy and then just keep it mowed?

  6. Bart says:

    I was thinking about making one large bed that I could subdivide into different-sized rows based on the changing needs and fertility of the garden. Plus, it would mean only one large fence and timber edging instead of multiple smaller ones.

    Another advantage of the fence is that it would keep both the dog and the neighbor kids from stomping all over the dirt in the wintertime when it’s covered with a nice blanket of snow.

  7. BurdockBoy says:

    I was going to suggest what you mentioned-a large raised bed, either one or two. It allows for much easier tilling and less resources.

    It’s funny how the lack of winter brings us to thinking about gardening.

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