Raised beds

Last year’s mini tulips edging the center path…hoping they will return.

I love my raised beds. As soon as the idea of a potager began to emerge, there was no question that raised beds would be a major factor. There had not been many raised beds in my prior gardens, but even that very small bit of experience had already convinced me that raised beds are much easier to tend and keep tidy. In addition, they can easily be much more productive (mine produce three times the produce in less than half the space and work of traditional row gardens.)

I can harvest peas long before my neighbors with row gardens!

Raised beds allow me to work in the garden much earlier and often, because the soil thaws and dries out much quicker in spring. There’s no tilling and very little digging except to harvest root crops. And, as I’m aging it is readily apparent that the raised beds are much, much easier on backs and knees. I can work longer in my raised beds than I can in my “normal” in-ground gardens. If I were doing my garden over I’d definitely do raised beds again. I’d probably do 8′ long beds rather than 6′, because lumber comes in 8′ lengths so it would be more economical to do 8′ beds. However, there has been one problem with my wonderful raised beds…

What a bother!

Broken corners! Yes, broken corners are my biggest headache. No matter what wood glue is used, no matter how many nails or screws are used, after several seasons Old Man Winter with his freezing and thawing and heaving pulls the corners apart. And as soon as the corner slides open, the soil begins to move. Every spring there are a few corners that need to be dug out and re-screwed. It’s a real bother. The only good thing about it is that it gives me a purposeful job to do before I can really “garden.” Any nice day when the soil in the beds isn’t frozen I can be out playing carpenter. But, after seven years some of the corners are getting so rotted that re-screwing is no longer an option. They just won’t hold together. Thankfully there is a solution!

Hurrah! A remedy!

In researching possible solutions, I found these sturdy metal brackets from Plow and Hearth. (Note: I did not get any reimbursement or discount for mentioning this product!) They are exactly what I needed. They are easy to use and I think quite attractive! They not only hold the boards securely, but they have a “lip” that goes into the ground to keep the bed in place. I believe they will add several years to the life of each bed. And, when the boards do eventually need to be replaced, the screws can be taken out and the bracket can be re-used on a new bed or to repair another corner on an older bed. They aren’t cheap (about $10 per bracket) but with the price of lumber these days, and the hassle it takes to repair a corner, and the additional years of use they will provide, I think they are well worth the price.

I had calculated that I would need to replace six beds this spring. And there were several corners on others that had parted. However, with the new brackets only two beds really require replacement and all the corners on the others can be repaired with a bracket. Four brackets are much less than the cost of the lumber for a bed so I’m feeling like a winner.

I love it when a problem gets resolved, don’t you?

About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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23 Responses to Raised beds

  1. 1972italy says:

    I have three raised beds made from cement cinder blocks left from the previous owner. This year will be the first time that I will use them. They are going to be a bear to get clean as they are VERY overgrown. But I think it will be worth it. The big issue after that will be trying to keep the critters out! I live in northern Michigan so we still have plenty of snow right now. But I am dreaming of Spring…

    Like

  2. Peg says:

    Good solution. A bit pricey but Iā€™m sure it will be worth it.

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    • carolee says:

      Some things are well worth the cost, especially as I get older and repair jobs get harder for me! If I were rich, I’d hire some bloke to dig the edges and put the brackets on for me, too!!!

      Like

  3. Heather F. says:

    Finding a good solution is so satisfying!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bcparkison says:

    Wonder why we didn’t think of this sooner.? Homebuilding products come to the rescue.

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    • carolee says:

      I’m a terrible shopper, so they may have been around for years but I just now found them! Normally, I’m a fix it myself somehow type rather than spend money, but in this case their “fix” is SO much better than any I’d tried.

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  5. I also love my raised beds and find the corners come away over time, your solution looks great! There are brackets I have considered using to remedy this, not as visually pleasing as yours though!

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    • carolee says:

      I found other brackets that were lower cost, but didn’t offer the support or actually “replace” the rotten ends. I ordered a set of these, and immediately knew they fixed more problems than the others. To me, the cost is definitely worth it, and I’ll use them the rest of my life!

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  6. Going Batty in Wales says:

    Those are a rally good solution! I have raised beds which were built with brackets inside the corner fixed with bolts. Now the ends of the boards are rotting they are coming adrift. I shall look to see if I can find ones like yours over here. Do you know what they are called as that would make my search easier?

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    • carolee says:

      They are just listed as raised bed metal brackets from a company called Plow and Hearth. Don’t know if they ship abroad, and with shipping costs so high these days, it probably wouldn’t be worth it. Know any welders? Maybe they could make them for you? If I were living my entire life over, I would have had my dad teach me to weld, and I would have gotten a pilot’s license!!! There have been a hundred times I wished I could weld!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Going Batty in Wales says:

        Thank you for that. I will have a search around and see what I can find. I can’t weld either and have never hankered after a pilot’s licence though my husband got his and I enjoyed going up with him. Perhaps it is as well – licences don’t come cheap! Welding would be more useful.

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      • carolee says:

        Definitely! And I could have had all Dad’s welding equipment, if I’d just been smart enough to realize how valuable a skill it was!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Going Batty in Wales says:

        If I’d known then what I know now I would have…. How many times have I said that?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. So satisfying! My hubby and I are starting on our first raised beds this spring and are so excited! Thank you for sharing šŸ™‚

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  8. Cindy M says:

    I just did a quick search on-line for “raised bed metal corner brackets” and found many to choose from. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding them in the US.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your garden is beautiful! Love the layout.

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