Stuart Price
Last Updated

Most gardeners think that the soil needed to fill raised beds may cost a lot of money. Though this process can be costly, if you know the right way to fill raised beds, you can fulfil this task in a much affordable way. 

However, most experts recommend using your property soil not to have to pay additional money into buying the ground. Other than your property soil, you can also purchase leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, and various other stuff to do this task. 

You can also collect wood chips and other homemade compost that are usually present for free pickup. But do not worry as there are many other cheapest ways to fill the raised bed garden. Therefore, if you want to learn the cheapest way to fill raised beds, keep reading.

Method 1: Hugelkultur

Hugelkultur is one of the most popular methods that many gardeners use to fix their raised garden. The meaning of Hugelkultur in German is “hill culture.” In this method, you will need to bury rotting debris below the soil. 

However, only bury material like logs, branches, leaves, and grass to get the desired outcome. Instead of keeping these materials on the surface and letting them decompose, you should put them below the soil. 

Burying them beneath the surface will have various benefits for the soil. It will help your soil gain all the essential nutrients required for its growth. This process will enrich the soil, making it suitable for growing various plants. 

However, while burying, keep in mind the size of the organic materials. The organic material with a smaller size usually decomposes more quickly as compared to the larger-sized organic material.

The decomposition of small organic materials rapidly will also make the availability of nutrients to the plant quicker. Another exciting thing to know is that allowing organic material to decompose in an open environment will release carbon into the atmosphere. 

On the other hand, by burying the organic materials, the carbon gets trapped in the earth, which minimizes the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is quite beneficial for the plant. 

This process is called carbon sequestration, and it is one of the best approaches to minimize the amount of carbon dioxide. Therefore, once you cut down the tree, make sure to put its logs in the raised garden bed so that you do not require a lot of soil to fill the raised garden beds, which will help you save a lot of money. 

As you will utilize organic matter of larger size, it will last for many years, giving you a better outcome. Further, experts recommend filling the raised bed up to 10 to 12 inches deep. Also, make sure to fill in the gaps that you may notice between large rotting material. 

You can use smaller organic materials such as wood chips, leaves, and grass to fill the gaps. Further, you can also do lasagna gardening by filling your raised bed with soil mix. While filling the raised bed, you can measure it in cubic feet.

Steps to Follow to Use Hugelkultur Method

Following are the steps to follow to create a raised bed with the help of the Hugelkultur Method.

Step 1: Build a Trench

Initially, you will require building a trench. For this, you will need to perform digging up to 1 to 2 feet deeper. While digging a trench, examine that it is long enough to fit branches and logs in it easily. 

A few gardeners also complain about the growth of weeds and grass within the trench after some time. So, to prevent the development of grass and weed, you can use cardboard or newspapers.

Step 2: Put Logs, Leaves, Branches

Once you are done building a trench, the other step you will need is to place logs, leaves, branches, and other organic materials. 

Put all the organic material inside the trench that you want to decompose. Try placing the materials parallel to each so that you can place more organic material in less area.

Step 3: Cover It with Soil

Cover it with the soil after placing logs, leaves, branches, and other organic material in the trench. Keep on adding the soil unless you are happy with your mound size. 

If you already have all the necessary materials, you will not require to spend any money building the raised bed. So, these are the steps to follow to make the Hugelkultur method work for you.

Method 2: Core Gardening

Steps to Make Core Gardening Raised Bed

Following are the steps to make a core gardening raised bed easily and effectively.

Step 1: Build a Trench

At first, you will need to build a trench. Make sure that the trench is around 8 to 12 inches deep. Also, try keeping it 1 to 2 feet down the raised bed middle. If you are using an existing raised bed, you only need to put the soil to the sides, or you can even temporarily remove the soil. 

If you are starting a new raised bed, try using a newspaper or cardboard as a base of the bed. By putting cardboard or newspaper as a base, you can easily smother any weed or grass that might be present on the lawn. 

However, remember that it is not necessary to get rid of this grass or weed first. After putting the base, add some soil on the top of it based on the bed height. Also, make sure only to put a small amount of soil.

Step 2: Fill A Raised Bed Core

Now, you will require filling the core of the raised bed. For filling purposes, try using wet organic matter. Experts even recommend the use of such a wet organic matter that has begun breaking down. 

Other than this, one of the quality materials that most gardeners utilize is old straw bales. The best thing about old straw bales is that it is readily available. 

Apart from straw bales, you can even use grass clippings, leaves, or twigs. You can easily mix these items and get the work done within a short time. Fill the core using organic matter and walk on the top of it. By walking on it, you will be able to pack it down.

Step 3: Water the Core Thoroughly

After filling the core of the raised bed, the other thing you will require doing is watering it thoroughly. Watering the core is also known as “charging the core.” By doing so, you will be able to make a sponge at the bed centre. 

This will also help you supply water to the plants throughout the season. If you want to make a better core gardening raised bed, then try not to miss this step because this process will play a vital role in helping you make a “sponge” in between the garden.

Step 4: Fill the Remaining Raised Bed

After watering the core of the raised bed thoroughly, you need to fill the remaining raised bed with soil. Using the existing raised bed, you can fill it with the soil you temporarily removed while making the trench. 

However, if you notice any mounds down the middle, do not worry because it will settle over time. Other than this, if you have used a new raised bed, you will need to consider the soil type and the amount of soil it will need to fill. 

You can even make a mixture of compost and topsoil and add it to the raised bed. A 50/50 mixture of both the inches of compost and topsoil will be enough for this task.

Step 5: Add Additional Nutrients and Plant

Keep in mind that a new raised bed will require additional nutrients. Therefore, you will need to purchase organic granular fertilizer. Organic granular fertilizers are readily available in the market so that you can purchase them from your nearby gardening shop. 

You can also make a good nitrogen source by yourself if you want. A fish fertilizer or manure will also do the required task for you. Further, try to keep your bed mulched and use a compost bin on the soil for an effective outcome.

Method 3: Back to Eden

Back to Eden is another affordable method that you can use to fill your raised bed. This method is quite similar to the Ruth Stout method. But, unlike the Ruth Stout method, you will require using wood chips instead of hay. 

The best thing is that all the essential items required for the Back to Eden method are easy to access. This method is dependent on the wood chips that you can easily get from a local gardening shop.

Steps to Follow to Use Back to Eden Method

If you do not know anything about the Eden method, do not worry because the following steps will help you use it even if you have no prior knowledge.

Step 1: Get Some Soil

Like a few other methods, the Back to Eden method will require you to arrange some soil. If you already have extra soil at your place, it’s a good thing. However, make sure that the soil is worth using. 

If you do not have any extra soil, you may require spending a few bucks to buy it. We would suggest you purchase the soil in bulk so that you can save some extra bucks. 

Besides, you can even mix the soil with organic matter. If you plan to use organic matter with the soil, then make sure to keep an optimal ratio. A 50:50 ratio of composted organic matter and soil will be an ideal choice. However, you can still adjust the ratio as per your soil structure.

Step 2: Gather Wood Chips

After arranging the soil, you will have to gather wood chips. If you do not have wood chips, do not worry because they are easier to locate, so you will not struggle to arrange them. 

You can purchase it from a local store. Similar to the soil, try buying the wood chips in bulk as it will cost you less. Even many trees and landscape companies also provide wood chips for free. This wood chip will work as a mulch for your soil.

Step 3: Fill the Raised Bed

Now you will need to fill the raised bed with the soil. After adding soil to the raised bed, add wood chips on it. Make sure that the wood chips are present at the top of the soil. 

By keeping the wood chips at the top of the soil, you can start the decomposing process, which will help in making a mulch layer. There are different ways by which you can even speed up the decomposing process. 

One of the popular ways is by adding manure. Manure will help you enhance the pace of the decomposing process. While following the Back to Eden method, most people mistake planting the seed in the wood chip layer. 

However, planting the seed in the wood chip layer will not work; therefore, you should avoid that. Instead of the wood chip layer, make sure to plant the seed in the soil. For this, you will need to dig into the mulch layer. Once you are done with digging the mulch layer, plant the seed into the soil directly.

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