Growing in Elevated Planters - Help please?

spanthegulf
spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

As my sister is aging, she has asked me to build her some elevated planters. Another friend, hearing our discussion, remarked that might help her also, as (although younger) she is no longer able to get down to the ground following a horrific automobile crash a few years ago. Another girlfriend just doesn't want to tear up her yard! So... It looks like I'm going to be mass producing some of these elevated planters. I have a concept and there are multiple plans out on the Net. My questions are:

Size -- for my two friends, I think a 24" (or perhaps 30") x 48" will be great, at about counter height. For my sister, I'm wanting to make it longer... perhaps add extra legs and "undercarriage" supports and increase up to 8' in length. Obviously the weight of the soil will be much greater. Any experience with an elevated bed this long?

Soil -- Any suggestions re: soil mix? I'm thinking a blend of garden soil and potting mix, but really don't know.

Any input on these or other issues I may not have thought of will be most appreciated! Thanks!

Comments

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd probably go for just making more of the shorter ones. Perhaps even vary the lengths.

    That way they can be configured as needed, and the weight won't become dangerous. If they can be butted up against each other to form a longer length, you will have the same end result, but much safer to handle. My experience with moving things is that things that fit in the bed of a pickup rather than needing a trailer are easier to move. And if you have to get through a gate or doorway that doesn't have enough room to maneuver, or have to navigate a tight corner, shorter is easier. Also consider how many people it takes to move the finished product.

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    I have two 4-foot planters, planning on more. I used commercial potting mix in the first one because I was worried about the weight too, but found that it dried out way too quickly. I've been experimenting with my own blends, but haven't settled on the perfect one yet. Even with something as light as the commercial potting mix the planter is very heavy when wet, so I'd be concerned about anything much bigger than the 4-foot version.

    One unexpected lesson I learned the hard way: I set the first planter on the bare ground. Though I didn't know it till it was too late, the (blank-blank) voles undermined the area beneath its back legs. Then a week of unusually heavy rains turned the ground to mush and the planter toppled over, flat on the ground. With everything soaking wet and boggy, I had one heck of a time getting the planter upright again and getting paver blocks underneath the feet to disperse the weight. So I laid down a pad of paver blocks for the second planter when I built it, and have not had that problem again.

  • spanthegulf
    spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    Excellent points, @MaryRowe Thank you!

  • spanthegulf
    spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    You have a point there, @Mary Linda Bittle I hadn't thought about how I'm going to get that sucker from the construction site into the yard/garden. Definitely, even without the soil the weight of the wood will be considerable. OK... looks like we're back down to max 48". I so appreciate y'all being a sounding board for my thought processes!

  • frogvalley
    frogvalley Posts: 675 ✭✭✭✭

    I bought planting tables last year and they work great. I just have to make sure the soil is of good quality. They are the perfect height so I don't have to bend over, but are light enough to move.

  • Sharie
    Sharie Posts: 276 ✭✭✭

    Can you build one out of rocks and fill it? That's what we do here but we also have lots of rocks!

  • spanthegulf
    spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    @Sharie I wish! I absolutely love native stone... and planting beds bounded by native stone is just the ultimate! Alas, all or our native stone disintegrated into sugar sand some thousands of years ago! LOL East Texas... red clay and sugar sand...that's pretty much it!

    But I did finally get one built! Yippee! Just finished it yesterday. The height is perfect... no bending over! I opted to play it safe and stick with a conservative 2' x 4'. I did make it just a bit deeper (9 inches). A couple of layers of chicken wire stapled to the bottom, supported by treated 2x4's securely screwed in. Then I lined the bottom with several layers of cardboard, then a thin layer of decaying hardwood chips, then soil. Then watered well, then lettuce seed. I plan to make a hinged "dome" to cover it, but until that happens, I'm using an old window to protect from both falling temperatures and marauding poultry. Not pretty, but I'm excited. Progress!


  • spanthegulf
    spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2020

    @MaryRowe Thank you for your caution against placing this directly on the ground! I opted to use some 2" x 12"x12" patio stones, then added scraps of granite we had laying around as needed to level it up. I thinks it's shored up pretty well! At any rate, thanks for helping out!

    and @Mary Linda Bittle you were so right re: the weight! All that treated lumber and screws... not light! I wrestled it onto the tailgate of the truck to haul it the roughly 50 feet from the construction site to the garden gate nearest its "final resting place"! That only left about 10 feet to haul it manually. Even so... it is heavy! Any longer and it would have been so hard to make that last turn into the garden! I'm so glad I didn't make it larger!

  • MaryRowe
    MaryRowe Posts: 736 ✭✭✭✭

    @spanthegulf Yep, I used the same kind of pavers under the legs--should do the trick. Your planter looks great. That one will be producing food for years!

    I didn't think to build a cover for mine, but that's a really good idea to extend the growing season, as well as keeping the chicks out.

  • Slippy
    Slippy Posts: 117 ✭✭✭

    We ditched our conventional dirt garden for a series of Raised Beds. The easiest ones to work are Stock Tanks that we converted to raised beds. Poke holes in the bottom of the tanks for drainage, add some gravel then sand, local dirt then mix our compost with some store bought Miracle Gro Garden Soil and we get some fantastic yields out of these tanks! Easy on the back and easy to maintain.


  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Slippy love the stock tanks! I am planning on adding some of those for some some things like asparagus or things that spread a lot!

    @spanthegulf would adding a place for them to sit while gardening work such as a bench near or attached to the raised beds?

  • spanthegulf
    spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    Oh, those stock tanks help to create such a clean fresh look! Your yard is lovely, BTW! Thanks for the suggestion and the great photos!

    @Lisa K Benches are a great idea! I have wanted to create "nesting" places (places to sit and rest) throughout the garden. Incorporating them near or adjacent to the raised planters is a great concept! Thank you!

    PROGRESS REPORT: I got my one little planted seeded with lettuce (a romaine). Within just a few days it is germinating! Yippee! My mouth is watering at the prospect of fresh salads from our winter garden!

  • spanthegulf
    spanthegulf Posts: 81 ✭✭✭

    OH... and @Slippy -- thanks also for detailing the planting mix you're using. For this first planter, I ended up doing something very similar... local soil (think sugar sand!), a couple of buckets of ashed sand from where I sometimes burn scrap wood (not treated wood...), a couple of buckets fromthe bottom of my chicken coop, another bucket or two from the back of the barn, a bucket or two of a peat based mixture from the local garden center, and finally about 1/2 bag of enriched potting mix. The resulting mix certainly had a nice look and feel to it... here's hoping it grows well!

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @spanthegulf you are very welcome 😊