DIY Soil For Raised Garden Beds (Step-By-Step Guide)

Knowing what kind of soil to use for raised garden beds can be tough. There are many pre-made options, and they all claim to be the best. However, many pre-made choices are filled with harmful chemicals and won’t provide enough nutrition for your plants. That’s why I recommend using this easy-to-make DIY soil that’s perfect for raised beds!

This DIY soil uses only three natural ingredients! From my experience, it’s cheaper than most pre-packaged options and has more natural benefits! If you’re using my DIY soil, you won’t need to refill your garden beds every season. Rather just add some more compost and mix it around! Now, let’s get into making the soil!

Want to learn more about raised garden beds? Check out our list of resources!

Working in a raised bed

DIY Soil Blend For Raised Beds

What You Need: 

  • Peat Moss
  • Compost 
  • Vermiculite 

Peat Moss 

Peat moss is dead moss that has been decomposing for a long time. It does a great job of assisting the soil in absorbing nutrients and water to keep your plants healthy. It also aids in loosening topsoil and compost that would otherwise be more compact.

Peat moss gives your soil a light feel, moving it away from tightly compacted soil. I recommend using Natural Sphagnum Peat Moss, as it’s 100% organic and natural.


Compost should be in every type of soil used for gardening. You may purchase various kinds of compost pre-prepared, or you can make it yourself. Some examples of pre-made compost include worm castings compost, cow manure compost, chicken excrement compost, and mushroom compost. I recommend making it yourself, although this isn’t available to everyone!

If you’re making the compost yourself, I recommend using at least two main ingredients. I believe this provides the widest variety of nutrients, and my plants have always thrived by utilizing this approach. However, if you get great results another way, keep doing that!

I like to use some topsoil or enriched topsoil (topsoil with some added compost) to help fill space in empty raised garden beds. In the spring, if I’m only replacing the soil, I don’t add any topsoil since I want to pack as much compost (nutrients) as I can into the available space.


Vermiculite is the main component required for optimal drainage and aeration of your raised garden beds. Garden plants dislike having their roots submerged in water, and it often ends up killing the plants. Thus, the soil must drain water at the proper rate. Vermiculite offers the ideal level of aeration when combined with peat moss and compost.

I recommend buying this Professional Grade Vermiculite! It’s used by full-time and hobbyist gardeners alike!

How to Mix The Soil? 

Peat moss, compost, and vermiculite can be combined in equal ratios before being added to the raised bed. However, I think it’s easier to mix it in the raised bed itself. Simply layer each ingredient thinly in the raised bed, then use a hoe or shovel to combine everything once it is half full. Repeat this process until your bed is full of soil.

This “DIY” mixture of compost, peat moss, and vermiculite allowed me to fill my raised garden beds for a fraction of the cost of pre-mixed bags. It continues to be the best mix for the healthiest plants I have used.

How To Fill A Raised Bed? 

I like to begin by lining a fresh or empty raised garden bed with cardboard or several layers of newspaper. This will eventually degrade and prevent deep-rooted weeds from creeping up through the bed.

Next, fill the bottom third of your raised bed using free organic material from your yard to save money. Avoid filling your entire garden bed with any expensive components listed above. My preferred material is dried leaves because they don’t frequently contain seeds or shoots that other items (such as soil or mulch from other parts of your yard) might. I’ve also seen individuals fill the empty area with big logs and branches.

Want to learn more about organic gardening? Check out my library of free resources!

DIY soil for raised beds

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