What to Put on the Bottom of a Raised Garden Bed?
A raised garden bed’s bottom serves as the bed’s foundation; if the bottom is constructed improperly, the plants growing there will undoubtedly struggle. A raised garden bed should ideally contain much organic matter that decomposes gradually, but it is also critical to contain at least some brown composting materials that decompose slowly and are nutrient-rich.
The bottom of a raised garden bed serves as the bed’s foundation. If the foundation is incorrect, the plants growing in the garden bed will undoubtedly struggle. It is ideal for them to have much organic matter that decomposes gradually, but it is also crucial to have at least some brown composting materials that decompose slowly and are rich in nutrients.
You must consider how long you want the raised garden bed to produce while planning. Use wood logs as the bottom layer if you want a productive garden bed that lasts for several years. The majority of organic material that decomposes fast, such as hay, compost, grass clippings, and so on, should be used when creating a new raised garden bed, on the other hand, if you have immediate plans to do so.
Additionally, you must consider the challenges you face in your yard and safeguard your raised garden from them. Use plastic fabric for the bottom layer if you have a significant weed problem. Gopher wire is a great base for the raised garden bed if gophers are a problem in your area.
What Materials Are Best For the Bottom of a Raised Bed?
Logs should be the bottom layer of a raised garden bed if you want it to last. Hugelkultur is another name for this technique, and it has been successfully applied for hundreds of years throughout Germany and Eastern Europe. Put several logs, the bigger, the better, on the bottom of the raised bed; these logs will decompose and provide food for your plants. Typically, the raised garden bed needs to be rebuilt after 4 to 8 years when the logs entirely decompose.
Cardiacs make an ideal bottom layer for raised garden beds because it is an effective weed suppressor. This is particularly true if you are constructing a bed right on top of some vegetation. Although cardboard decomposes quite quickly, it will maintain moisture in the soil as it does so and smother out the majority of weeds. The bottom layer will last you for many years if you lay down a layer of cardboard and then stack a few logs directly on top of it.
Since it is the cheapest option and works the best, most people decide to fill the raised bed’s bottom with dirt. If you wish to use your soil, make sure that it doesn’t have a lot of clay, though you should consider what kind of soil you use. Most plants won’t be able to force their roots through compacted clay soil, which will eventually occur in the bottom layer of a raised garden bed.
Clay can be a great resource to have on your homestead. Read more about how you can garden on your clay!
Although its primary purpose is to control weeds, landscape cloth may be a great foundation for raised plant beds. Use landscape cloth to drown weeds if you create your raised garden bed directly over vegetation. A raised garden bed is ideal when using landscape fabric since it prevents water from draining out of the bottom. This can be problematic for some plants.
This is a heavy duty and eco-friendly landscape fabric that I’ve under under my porch to keep down the weeds!
Lawn clippings provide a fantastic bottom layer for raised vegetable beds and a wonderful mulch. Grass clippings usually decompose rather quickly, and the nutrients produced can nourish your plants. Grass clippings can be placed on the bottom of a raised garden bed if it is reasonably short, especially given how quickly they decompose. However, if your raised garden bed is quite tall, you will need to continuously mulch it because as the grass clippings rot, they will sink into the topsoil.
Just be sure to use enough leaves. A bottom layer of leaves may do wonders for your raised garden bed. Place many leaves in your raised garden bed if you are making it in the fall. When springtime arrives, you can top off fallen leaves with compost, mulch, or soil because they decompose quickly. In this manner, the garden bed’s soil will be rich in nutrients.
The raised garden bed’s bottom is covered with wood chips, which provide food for your plants and aerate the soil. The bad news is that if you want to use wood chips as the foundation of your raised vegetable bed, you will need to apply a thick layer of them. Although placing wood chips at the bottom of a raised garden bed is a nice idea, I think it would be better to place wood logs there and utilize the wood chips as mulch instead.
Stay or Hay
Straw and hay can be used on the bottom of your raised garden bed because they decompose fairly quickly, retain a lot of moisture, and smother weeds. The primary issue with using straw or hay as a foundation is that they degrade very quickly. As a result, the bottom layer of the raised garden will disappear in one or two years at most. Once the dirt begins to sink in, you can avoid this issue by mulching the raised garden bed.
Stone or Rocks
Use stones or rocks as the basis of your raised garden beds if you live somewhere with a lot of humidity. Their primary function will be to aid drainage, but if they are tightly spaced, they are effective at smothering weeds. Under no circumstances should you use rocks or stones as a top layer in your raised garden bed. The weight of them would compact the soil, making it difficult for plants to send roots into the ground.
When deposited in the ground, newspaper functions similarly to cardboard, with one significant exception: it is nearly waterproof. For the same reason, you shouldn’t flush newspaper down the toilet. The primary purposes of newspapers, on the other hand, are to hold onto water and smother weeds. It can be used as the base layer for raised vegetable beds. Cardboard has more nutrients than newspaper. When it comes to feeding your plants, the newspaper does eventually decompose in the soil (compost doesn’t).
Put some gopher wire on the bottom of your raised beds if gophers are an issue in your neighborhood. Put organic material or dirt on top of the gopher wire, using this layer as protection against gophers. Remember that gopher wire ultimately rusts away, so be sure to buy the thickest gopher wire you can find. I really like this wire, that’s high quality but at a reasonable price!
A raised garden bed’s base can be composted, but only if the raised garden bed is not too tall. The nutrients in the compost won’t be accessible to the plants until their roots reach it. If you use compost on the bottom of a raised garden bed, you should use a thick layer. Once it has broken down, compost will sink into the soil.
As you can see, several items can serve as the foundation for your raised garden bed. I advise you to consider what recyclable materials you already have in your garden and utilize those as the foundation for your raised garden beds.
Interested in reading more about gardening on the homestead? We have a ton of resources written specifically for homesteaders and off gridders!