Establishing a Raised Bed

Learn how to Establish the interior of a raised bed

Preparing a raised bed is what I call fun; it gives me the opportunity to watch natural materials work together and for whatever reason I find that energizing.

I’ve been asked many times how to prepare a raised bed and I find myself always starting with, “It’s a process.” This is true and today I’m sharing how to prep a raised bed.

Start with a Container

The first thing you need is something we can eventually plant in. You can build raised beds out of wood, use metal containers like the photo above, landscaping timbers and the list goes on.  Make sure whatever you decide to plant in has good drainage even if that means drilling holes in place.

The Bottom Layer

I love this time of year because it’s perfect for establishing a raised bed, even if you don’t plant in it until next spring.  Natural materials are at your finger tips and since the yard needs to be cleaned up it’s best to find a use for all those natural blessings.

In the above picture I have dried leaves and pine needles, both are a good option for the bottom layer of your bed.  These ingredients will break down and it doesn’t take as long as most think, especially if the bottom of the bed is exposed to the ground.

Other ingredients that make a good bottom layer would be mucked hay, grass clippings and dead plants from your spring planting.  There’s no need to waste just let it work for you! Now cover this bottom layer with dirt, how thick will depend on the size of your container.

The Second Layer

Once you have a good bottom layer I like to add a layer of animal manure, like llama or sheep droppings.  Whatever you have available is fine and cover that with a thick layer of dirt.

The Third Layer

Here I like to bring in my compost from the kitchen.  Instead of digging holes like we do for direct composting we’re going to sprinkle the waste over the dirt.  Then cover it up with a thick layer of dirt.

If you have room in the container you can repeat the process until you reach the top of your bed.  Just make sure you end with a thick layer of dirt.  Let the bed rest for 2 weeks or months prior to planting. This bed will be one amazing space for new seeds or plants.

If you dirt isn’t the best to begin with check out my Soil Recipe to get the consistency your seeking. You can purchase dirt from many nurseries by bulk; it’s less expensive and better than soil that has been packaged for you.

Establishing a raised bed is a matter of incorporating natural ingredients and allowing them to work for you.  Set up your beds for spring now so they have all winter to rest.


  1. Karen says:

    You always inspire me Carole! We left a very (VERY) rural home setting with acreage 3 years ago, and now live on one acre not very far from town. I have one small raised bed, but I really miss being able to do the things I read here that you are doing. I miss my chickens too! 🙁 It is always a sweet joy to visit your blog and bask in what you are doing.

    I love your raised bed containers! I built most of mind with concrete blocks, but your galvanized beds look so nice – especially with that chicken looking so happy there on the edge. Thanks for sharing. I'm storing up lots of your great ideas for a day when we are on the land again – that's the plan. 🙂

    1. That chicken was cracking me up and actually inspired me to write this post. She was trying so hard to balance herself and when she finally figured it out she was very proud. We're on 4 acres now not far from town but it's very country here still. Being close to town made it easier when the kids were younger. They're almost out the door one actually moving on in a couple weeks and our plan is to sell our little farm in a couple years and move further out – trying to decide where is the hard part. Glad I can share ideas that inspire that makes me smile. Hope you have a great day! -Carole

  2. daisy g says:

    Soil is everything, isn't it? There are so many ideas for raised beds. So glad you found a wonderful system!

    1. I completely agree – soil content is the most important part of the gardening to ensure great results.. -Carole

  3. That chicken makes the picture! LoL! So cool!

    1. Yep she's something – was trying to balance and it just caught my eye. Thanks for stopping by to share. -Carole

  4. Heidi Ramsey says:

    That is a great system. Good soil makes the garden. Thanks for your submission to the HomeAcre hop. Please head over to or one of the other host blog to submit another this week 🙂

    1. I Agree – Good soil is key! I'm getting ready to head over and link up now. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Great post that you shared on Fabulous Friday last week. I love the metal containers.
    Thanks Maria

    1. Glad you liked it – thanks for stopping by to share – Carole

  6. Rachel says:

    Hi Carole, I've been following your amazing blog for a few months now and I love the content you provide about gardening, raising quail, etc. We are just starting our homestead and garden and this post will be incredibly helpful! Thanks! I also featured it on my Sunday Good Reads post if you want to check it out.

    1. Thank you Rachel – I'm glad this blog has been able to help you out. I would love to see that feature – send me the link when you get a chance and I'll make sure to share it on my Facebook page and G+ – Hope you have a great day!

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