We're here to help! 877-884-3660 | Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm CST

Raised Garden Beds Guide

by Neal Dieker on February 23, 2023

An Installation Overview

Raised garden beds are an excellent way to grow a rich crop of greens. Whether you’ve got a tiny backyard in the city or lots of space in the country like the photo below, raised beds are a go-to solution for gardeners because they offer greater control over the growing conditions of the garden.

Playground borders have become a popular option for building raised beds and have several benefits over other common materials.

  • They drain really well because the joints where the borders interlock aren’t water tight but still fit closely together. This allows water to flow through while containing the soil.
  • They help keep the soil warmer which extends the growing season allowing you to get plants in earlier in the spring and keep them out later in the fall.
  • They are very modular, making it easy to create beds in many different sizes and shapes.
  • They are super easy to install. All you have to do is get the borders lined up and drive a spike through the hole that adjacent borders share. For us, installing the borders was the easiest part of the whole project.
  • Filling up or removing soil from a bed is much easier because you can drive a wheelbarrow inside the bed if you need to. All you need to do is remove a spike and pull out a section to make an opening for the wheelbarrow. When you’re done just put the section back in place and reinstall the spike and you’re all set.
  • They are easy to change down the road because you don’t have to cut or screw anything together. Want to extend out a 4′ x 8′ bed? Turn an existing bed into an L-shaped bed? Move a bed to a new area? All very easy to do with playground borders.

Linda Powers from IL sent us this video explaining why she likes to use playground borders for her raised bed garden. Linda also gave us a lot of tips as we built our garden area that we’ve included in this post. Many thanks to Linda for sharing her knowledge and beautiful garden with us!

We installed a couple of 4′ x 8′ beds and wanted to walk you through that project so you can see them in action. For this project we used 12″ playground borders for a little extra soil depth, however, 8″ borders work great as well.

Strip The Sod

Strip the sod the raised garden beds will be installed in

We decided to give the beds their own little area so the lawn isn’t right up next to them. This helps a lot with weed control, especially with viney things like bermuda grass that would want to climb up through the borders and take over the beds. It also wouldn’t need to be mowed around which is always a good thing.

To get started, the area was marked out and the sod was stripped. This helps provide a nice level base to work from, will help out later on with a tight weed barrier install, and will make sure that grass stays out of the area.

Build A Fence

build a fence around the raised beds to keep critters away

Putting up a fence isn’t entirely necessary, but for this project we needed to completely enclose the area to keep the dog from rummaging around and wrecking the plants. Another reason you might want to enclose your beds with a fence would be to keep out rabbits, deer, or other native creatures that would think your veggies are as delicious as you do.

Install Weed Barrier

install weed barrier or geo fabric under the raised garden beds

If you plan to create a mulched buffer area around the beds then installing weed barrier is essential. This will make it much more difficult for weeds to take root and will separate the ground soil from the mulch but still allow water through.

We had access to a giant roll of weed barrier so the whole area is one piece of fabric for this project. Most stores won’t have that large of a roll so you just have to make sure the seams are overlapped by a good 6” to 12” when it’s stapled down.

fold the geo-fabric under when installing along the edge

When going along the edges, it’s best to fold under the fabric when you staple it. This will help keep those edges from coming up in the future. As you go along you want to make the fabric as tight as possible, always pulling the slack out as you staple it down.

Install The Borders

Install the playground border

The easiest part of this project was installing the borders. To make sure the beds were straight and located correctly, we interlocked them with the spike but did not drive the spike in.

leave the playground border spikes up to adjust positioning

This made it easy to reposition the bed and get it right where it needed to go. Once everything is in position, the last step is to drive each spike in with a sledge hammer.

Time for Soil

the playground borders have a surfacing guide for that is a big help with mixing soil

One of the benefits of raised beds is having greater control over the soil. Our borders have a handy surfacing guide on the side so you can see what the depth of the soil is. This is really useful when mixing in things like compost, peat moss, manure, etc. Say you wanted to go with a ½ top soil and ½ compost blend with a total depth of 10 inches. You would fill to the 5” mark with top soil and the 10” mark with compost and then mix it. With the guide you know exactly what the proportions of the soil are.

Mulch and Plants

add mulch and plants and watch them grow

Once the soil is in, all that’s left to do is put down your favorite mulch and plant some veggies!!

If you’re looking for some raised bed eye candy, check out these photos Linda sent us.