Sustainable Raised Beds

Eco-Building & Forestry
Thursday, 31st July 2014

Raised beds are popular with gardeners, growers and allotmenteers. Tom Girolamo from Eco-Building & Forestry explores the need for them to be built with sustainable materials.

(Ed) Lots of people use raised beds to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables. They enable better access, help with water management and can extend the growing season. With them being so popular, we were intrigued when we received a newsletter from Eco-Building and Forestry, exploring more sustainable raised beds.

Can raised garden beds be part of a sustainable landscape? I've often pondered this question. Cutting down old growth cedar (or even redwoods) to construct them, using lots of other materials and doing a lot of work just to grow a few dollars' worth of vegetables doesn't sound that sustainable. 

However, Sybil's raised beds (above) that I constructed for her, changed how I think. She wanted this protected and raised garden as part of her lifestyle on her property and she wanted it to fit her personality.

Lessons learned

Make raised beds fit your lifestyle and personality

Place the raised beds where you will see and use them every day

Create an outdoor 'room' with a variety of uses including relaxing and even for entertaining

Build in reduced maintenance and easy repair

Construct from distressed or discarded materials

Make the beds convenient and comfortable to use

Build in a way that you can easily add on or change in the future

We live in a society where so much of what we buy (cars, phones, cable, fast food and frivolous toys come to mind) has little long-term value. And in a lot of cases these things are not even good for us. Creating a space in your yard, like this multiple-use raised garden, enhances your health and actually engages your life. Now that's sustainable! 

See for more information from Eco Building and Forestry.

Further resources

How to make vertical raised beds for urban green spaces

Small scale hugelkultur in raised beds

Build timber raised beds in your driveway

Making moveable raised beds from scrap

Getting Started in Permaculture

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist

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