Raised beds make it possible to garden in areas where the soil is unsuitable for growing and provides access to those with limited mobility, making raised beds a popular alternate to gardening in the soil. Kits and designs for elaborate beds can be purchased from gardening centers and seed catalogs, but I’ve never been one to go for prefabricated beds. By borrowing from nature, I create garden beds from natural products that create the illusion my raised beds sprang from nature.
Fallen logs make an excellent border for simple raised beds. Scout the wooded areas of your property for fallen logs and bring them home for your raised bed. If you don’t have access to wooded areas, visit your local sawmill and ask to buy tree-length logs. Place the logs around the perimeter of your flowerbed and fill the bed with a mixture of one part garden loam, one part peat moss and one part aged manure or compost.
Stones make effective borders for raised beds; either as a complete border or staggered along the perimeter of the bed. For a natural look, sink the stones into the soil so that they look like they belong there. Fill in crevices between stones with soil and tuck trailing plants into the pocket. Alyssum, creeping time or trailing petunias are good choices, but any trailing or creeping flower will do. This softens the edges and creates a natural appearance to your bed.
Old lumber, especially wood that has been exposed to the elements and has taken on the “natural” look — makes a good border for raised beds. Create a simple rectangular or square box from the wood and anchor the ends with pegs. Fill with soil and plant as usual.
Weathered bricks may not be a natural product, but they do add style to your raised bed. Stack old bricks to form the perimeter and fill in with soil for an attractive and functional raised bed.
Raised beds really don’t need a border, if you don’t mind a little extra maintenance. Rake the soil into a rectangular mound (at least 6 inches deep) and leave the edges bare for a quick raised bed. Some soil will erode during the year, but with a little work, you can remound the soil in the spring before planting. Borderless beds are well suited for raising vegetables or annuals and can even be created right in the garden if you prefer.