Big Raised Bed

The ‘Big Raised Bed’ – as I lovingly call it – hasn’t always been there. In fact, this particular area of the garden has probably seen the most changes in the 9+ years we’ve lived in this house. It started all with a summer planting when my mum came over and we planted it up with various lavenders, a rosemary, a California lilac and some annuals. That all died off. French lavender is hard to keep alive! The lilac did well until all of a sudden it decided it had enough of life, same for the rosemary. Fast forward to march 2018 where I decided to grow some vegetables and I wanted some raised beds. I constructed those of some pallets and shed panels given to me by friends. I ‘lined’ them with what I thought at the time was slate roof slabs, but what turned out to be asbestos – not ideal! There was a lot of weeding involved as bindweed loves the gardens here. That all cleared and prepped, I filled the two beds with a thick layer of cardboard and bags of compost. That first year growing veggies was awesome. Until the 4 whole packets of nasturtium and calendula flowers overtook everything growing in the beds. Lesson learned!

2019 was a bad year for a variety of things. The weather wasn’t great, bindweed had taken over completely, I couldn’t keep on top of things and didn’t have the time that I felt I needed to garden. Roll on 2020, in January my husband and I decided that rather than keeping the old greenhouse and fix it, we should buy a new one. There was a great offer that we took advantage of and got to work. Ordered in February, delivered early half of March in my week off. Two weeks later the first lockdown was issued. We removed the old greenhouse and started to tackle the plant mess that warped and destroyed the old greenhouse. A mix of ivy gone wild, jasmine gone crazy and a rose-hip all had wormed their way into the frame and once that was gone we found in the space between greenhouse and wall at least a foot thick layer of jasmine and ivy, roots & branches, just nuts.

With all that clearing we obviously needed to put it somewhere and the dumping ground became the old raised beds as I really wanted to focus getting the new greenhouse up and running for that growing season. We ran in other problems along the way but thats a story for another day. Once all that was build and done I finally could start on clearing the space of 2 old raised beds, clear it of weeds and start building what is now the “Big Raised Bed’.



I ended up using 4 or 5

Wooden roof battens

given by my neighbours who were redoing their roof and I got the old wood they were replacing

Weed suppressing fabric

left over from a different part of the garden

Drill bit to match the size of the screws

Drill (cordless)

Staple gun

with staples 😆

How to


  • Once we removed the old raised beds and paving slabs (I so generously cemented in) and the oak tree that Scot had been hacking at. It was time to lay out the new paving. I did a row of grey bricks to make the sleeper step a little deeper. This way, if the sleeper was wet I would still have something non slippery to stand on and tend the new bed to be. I did use concrete to cement these in and as the sleeper (towards the neighbours) wasn’t straight I used a line (just a couple of sticks and a bit of twine) to make sure they went in straight. I was planning, assuming the pallets I would use to make the long sides would be straight. Doing the paving first also gave me the best way to judge and measure the size of the raised bed to be. I also had to dig out some trenches for the pallets to sit in level.


  • Once the paving and digging of trenches was done, I could measure the remaining space. I cut up 3 good looking pallets in equal size in half. From memory the two outer ones facing the house are from one pallet, same for the opposite side. With the ones in the middle being of the same pallet (if that makes sense). I’m sure I’ll have to replace some of it at some point in the future and that’s ok. It will stand for a while yet I think.
    For the short sides I used another large pallet and cut it to size. I wanted to have a broad edging going round it to have either tools or baskets on whilst working in the bed, but also to be wide enough for me to sit on whilst working.


  • Always have my chief inspector with me when I do diy.


  • Here I fixed the fronts of the pallets together with loose pallet boards/planks. Some had to be cut into odd shapes.


Cutting the short sides to size, after measuring a million times (and still had to cut a bit more off)


On the inside of the long sides I fortified them with long (roof)battens. Doing this means there’s minimal ‘wobble’ when upright and it helps with any bowing out once the bed is filled.


As always, these two are around and I’m glad the sides won’t be just a seat for me.


All in place now and cemented onto the ground, just an extra precaution to any possible movement. It’s not level unfortunately but it’s ok. As long as it can do its job.


I’m lining the sides with polythene lining (this so no soil will escape) & I’m using old weed suppressing felt/fabric from the steps below this level as a base and weed suppressor for this bed. There’s bindweed in this area of the garden and after digging it all out, I’d like to keep it out! This stuff will also let water through and bugs.


I’m filling it with recycled soil, sieved and fine combed if you like. In spring I will top it up with fresh compost and during winter I will have green manure growing to improve it on a deeper level. The mix I’m using is rye and vetch.