Raised Bed Gardening For Beginners. Site Selection, Organic Soil and Mulch

Raised Bed Gardening For Beginners. Site Selection, Organic Soil and Mulch

Its that time of year that people get inspired to start their first gardens. With all the information out there where do you even start? Today ill go through the basics in getting your first garden going starting by going through location selection, raised bed construction, garden soil and mulching.

Location location location! It is really important to make sure you place your first garden in a good location.

So how do you figure out where a good location for your garden is?

Although the summer solstice is still a few months away the sun this time of year is going to give you some hints of where to place your garden. This is less of a concern if you have a wide open area but if your in an city like I am there are plenty of things that can obstruct the sun.

on a sunny day take a three or four photos of you yard. This will let you know where the sun is hitting and where it is being shaded. If you dont have an area that in most of the photos is sunny take a look for structures, fences and trees to the south of the are in your yard that is the closest to the North of you property.

If your not sure where North and South are most smart phones have a built in compass.

remember that although structures on the south side of your yard are causing the shadow right now the sun will pass higher in the sky during the summer reducing the extend of the shadowing. So look for an area that is shaded now however when the length of the shadow is reduced in summer may become exposed to sunlight.

Another good indicator if you live in an area that is snow covered through out the winter is where the snow melts first. This is indicative of where the sun is able to concentrate its melting.

In my yard during the winter as the sun crosses the sky quite low and my house shades the garden most of the day however with the sun higher in the sky it gets 12-14 hours of direct sun.

optimally the area you pick should have a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. With my short season more is better.

in southern climates closer to the equator you may in fact want to make sure you do get some shade as the summer sun is much more intense. From what I understand its best to select areas that shade part of the afternoon sun.

If at all possible place your garden as near to a entrance on an south facing wall of your home that has limited obstructions. If close to your door you it will be easier to enjoy your garden and the house will reflect heat and protect your plants.

You have now identified an area and your look for a specific spot. When selecting your spot make sure that it optimally has clear access all around it and has a slight slope away to provide drainage. Don’t worry if your yard has a slope like mine. You can still build a raised bed its just going to take a little longer.

if you are in the southern hemisphere make sure to flip the instructions for North vs. South.

Now that you know where to put your garden its time to decide how big of an area you want. I recommend starting with a 4 foot by 8 foot area or 1.2 meters by 2.4 meters raised bed garden. Most people can reach 2 feet or 60 cm and with the easy access on all sides you should be able to reach everywhere in the garden with out having to step on the soil.

Now that you have an area marked out and a size selected its time to figure out how you want to garden. I generally recommend new gardeners start with a raised beds.

I think it is important to have a successful first year in order to inspire you to continue this great hobby. Raise beds have a number of benefits over in ground gardening that just make it a little easier to have a good year. Some of the benefits of raised beds include better control of the soil, the chance for fewer weeds and the potential for fewer soil issues.

I do realize getting started does cost a little more but I personally feel its worth the investment. Moving forward raised bed gardening does not have to cost a lot.

its time to build your garden beds. around the perimeter of my garden area I have selected built them from 2 2×6 or one 2 x 8 or 12. I tried to use as much as possible reclaimed wood so the depth varies. All you really need is 6-8 inches of depth.

Raised beds are fairly easy to put together. here I have used a 4×4 post in the corner to screw the planks too. Again I try to source scrap material as much as possible. wood working corner brackets work fine as well.

in my main beds I used 4×4 and 4×6 posts. These are more expensive however as I dont have access all the way around the garden beds and I needed to be able to walk on the frame. The 4 inch surface instead of the 2 inch surface makes it easer and stronger. The posts are much simpler to attach together. you can simply pre drill and screw them directly to each other.


  1. Practical Readiness on March 14, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks for the video! I’m just getting started with raised bed gardening and enjoying the challenge.

  2. VOTE4TAJ on March 14, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    I am starting my raised beds this week. What do you recommend horse or cow manure. I can have access to bulk sheep and poultry manure as well.

    My existing semi raised beds are shaded along 50′ fence (mainly for fenugreek, spinach, kale and lettuce)
    The new beds will cover about a 120 sq ft with veggies like okra, bitter mellon, round squash, English cucumbers and egg plants.

  3. Joshua Ehl on March 14, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Good for you on reusing word sources.

  4. Jim S on March 14, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Nice video.
    I think some things that stop people from having a garden is that they think it’s a lot of work, and it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. 
    On another note…I recently got into a debate in a gardening forum about sheet mulch. You mentioned that you do it, so I take it you’re thinking like I do about it’s weed suppression and soil improvement. There are some that think it is detrimental to the soil. Barrier to moisture and air movement, etc. 
    I’m rethinking my general use and probably will only use it when I have a particularly persistent weed problem, but I’m thinking a deep mulch may be enough. Curious to hear your thoughts.

  5. anne drew potter on March 14, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    We have a difficult space to work with light wise, a small area between our house and our garage, so only the first 4 feet from the house get consistent summer sunlight. To increase our space, I’m planning to put some raised beds on part of our driveway and am considering locations. I have three options: along the neighbouring fence will give morning direct sun from about 9 or 10 to about 3 or 4, but then becomes shaded by the neighbours house. Alongside our garage which will get afternoon sun – from about 2 until sunset. Or I can put a strip down the middle of our driveway (which is 2 cars wide), which should get all day sun but will just be surrounded by driveway and alley, getting dust from anyone driving by. Any thoughts out there?

  6. suDz on March 14, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Great video for the starters !!

    Can’t we just use compost/vermicompost plus fine top soil(instead of potting soil), which may or may not have nutrients in it ??

  7. The Abled Gardener on March 14, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Great tips Stephen, you give everyone a lot of good information that’s clear and concise.

  8. Ray Wiggins on March 14, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    I just found your film on YouTube. You really impress me and my wife. Thanks for showing us how to get started and are looing for more info

  9. Latoya Williams on March 14, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    So distracted by the cute puppy lol.

  10. James Tepfenhart on March 14, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    At the end of the year, do you remove the dirt from the garden bed. Or do you just add oppose to your garden after the first year.

  11. Jen K on March 14, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    I do not use pine as it is acidic and changes the pH in the soil. Most plants are neutral pH therefore, changing the balance in the soil can cause problems, unless you are using plants that are grown best in acidic soil. Using cedar is great for use in gardens especially on the coast or rainy regions as it is more rot resistant in the rain.

  12. John Holloway on March 14, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    So, instead of using cardboard to kill the grass below, you can use newspaper—say several sheets thick (black and white only, no colors?)??

  13. Tooth Fairy on March 14, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    I wonder whether you can build a raised bed garden that is completely cut off to the corrupted (salty in my case) soil underneath.

  14. sikamikan on March 14, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    great content in this video. thanks for sharing

  15. Rob Prince on March 14, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Well done, very good information. I especially liked the the sunlight, shadow pictures and the information with that. Thanks for sharing.

  16. suburban homestead on March 14, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    After all the snow this year I realized that my garden is very shaded, since it took longer for it to melt.

  17. Jess Lucero on March 14, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    Stephen, I’m in north central Montana in zone 4. What raspberry varieties would you recommend? Thanks

  18. Patrick Meehan on March 14, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Very good Tips Stephen

  19. Tay Klein on March 14, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Thank you for this very useful video! I have never thought of using cardboards on the bottom of a raised bed, but I like the idea, since I have many of them. But will water go through cardboards nicely?

  20. Wise Student on March 14, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Every body has all kinds of ideas for design, materials, size, for raised bed gardening…..But No body tells where to get the planting material (dirt) for a raised bed….

  21. Miss K on March 14, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Would it be ok to plant flowers in a raised planter? If so what would be the ideal or the minimum depth of the planter?

  22. Jalynne Fuentes on March 14, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Good video and cute puppy! Keep on posting!

  23. Camelia Burjan on March 14, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    the little dog stole your show :)))

  24. Bethany Thornburg on March 14, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Hey! Question.. so the soil in my backyard is utter rubbish, full of rocks, and I’m not really sure how many earthworms are actually back there.. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. I know earthworms are essential in the aeration of the soil that would be in my bed, so I’m wondering should I add earthworms myself or will they be naturally attracted to the healthy soil in my beds despite the actual backyard being so crappy? Or should I supplement in extra coconut coir, which I’ve read helps tremendously with aeration? I’m completely new to this! Thank you!!

  25. The McNamara Family Channel on March 14, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    awesome video, thank you!

  26. Cristal -A.M. on March 14, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    that’s a cute pupper

  27. Sonja Toutenhoofd on March 14, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    hmmm…I had fill dirt (the guy said it was fine for garden beds) put in two new boxes we made with his help. I now regret it as the dirt seems sandy and lifeless. I guess I should dig it out and replace with better soil, do you think? I did mix in some of my nice compost but not enough. Maybe I should buy some bags of soil from the hardware store to replace? If you still follow this, what do you recommend?

  28. Alberta Urban Garden Simple Organic and Sustainable on March 14, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    Raised Bed Gardening is a fun and easy way to grow your own food at home.  Once you get going it can be simple organic and cheap.  With all the information that is out there how do you get started?  Today we touch on some of the basics to get your garden going!

    #raisedbedgardening #raisedbeds #gardening #organicgardening #organic #soil #organicsoil #mulch #sun #spring #springfever #newgardener #beginnergardender 


  29. Sean Monts on March 14, 2019 at 9:11 pm


  30. Amethist86 on March 14, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    This is really helpfull!

  31. Joshua Deaver on March 14, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Great video! I am new to this hobby and I have a rock yard. If I am looking to do a raised bed, do I need to remove all rocks down to the dirt or can I build directly on top of the rocks?

  32. Haley Mansfield on March 14, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Thank you so much! This is a concise video with a lot of practical information for an extreme newbie like me! Now I just need to figure out a plan for where to plant all of my different seeds!

  33. Wise Student on March 14, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    Thankyou,  But is a raised bed really worth all the cost ????

  34. pookergirl on March 14, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    You make no mention of being sure not to use treated wood!  The chemicals will leach into your soil!

  35. Terra on March 14, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks so much for the information on raised gardens!

  36. Hobby Homesteader on March 14, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    I want to have my very first gardening season. I am in AZ so the must love the heat …. I want to use a series of raised bed and am looking for beds I don’t actually have to build. I have heard horse troughs or baby pools work … any thought?

  37. Goon Dawg on March 14, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    I’m a new Gardner..
    Here’s my question. I’ve built a 18 ft by 4 ft raised garden. I live in a big city and the raised garden concept I think will work for me.
    What kind of soil can I use?
    It’s 14" high so how much soil do I put in it?

  38. Southpaw Davey urban farm. on March 14, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    Good one mate hope you get spring soon grapes look well protected.
     Every boy needs a dog your going to have fun I have had a dog for 30 years. My son wanted me to make a lift so the dogs could get on the bunk bed 😉

  39. HuwsNursery - Grow Organic Produce Inexpensively on March 14, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    Excellent tips especially for new growers! If I ever see anyone wanting to know about raised bed gardening I’ll send them straight to this video. Nice to see that spring is soon approaching you Stephen 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  40. Sohan Sohan on March 14, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    Always love your video. Absolutely helpful. Steven, can i put shredded paper or cartoon for the plastic container at the botom? Or it is only good in the raise bed because touch the ground directly? Thanks for advice.

  41. baynerw on March 14, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Thank you very much for the video!! I have been watching many of them on gardening as my new work schedule allows me to resume gardening after a 2 year hiatus. I like OYR’s video’s very much as well (post below). Question….peat moss, you made no mention of it. I do have some compost in a plastic "barrel", perhaps 9 to 11 cubic feet of what I think is quality stuff… food scraps, eggshells, grass clippings and fall leaf material 3 years old…it is full of worms surprisingly enough. I plan on keeping half of the ground level garden I currently have and building raised beds in a sort of landscape way so I can add flagstone between them. Back to the peat moss….any recommendations on layering and/or mixing peat, wood ash with compost and rich topsoil? I presume different plants might appreciate the peat. I plan on 12" raised beds in Northern most Indiana. I will ask OYR as well. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. parmz1 on March 14, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    I like your dog.

  43. chinga tu madre on March 14, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    thanks for the video I have a question I want to build one of these garden boxes butt I live in West Texas oil field and the dirt here is very contaminated I want to plant vegetables I’ve never Garden before thank you where can I get good seeds that don’t have any nasty crap in them if anyone knows no (GMOs)

  44. Michael Clark on March 14, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Raised beds are great for people with limited space, maximum yield in a minimal area and beginners can get excellent results from even a small raised bed.

  45. Munib Buhić on March 14, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    My father told me I had to visit Simply Love Gardening (search on Google). I learned a lot there.

  46. Edward burdick on March 14, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    I am finding a lot of white hairs in my raised bed. Will they hurt my planting seeds?

  47. Cate's Garden on March 14, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Very nice info.

  48. Tony Gibson on March 14, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    I really like the fence around your garden. Did you build it or buy it? Thanks.

  49. TheItalian Garden on March 14, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    all good tips nice job Stephen!

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