Sample Garden Bed Construction
Model A: Mounded beds with edging (sod stays in place)
This model of garden construction can give a structured
appearance to create a beautiful food forest style garden using
permaculture methods. Residents may choose this garden
bed construction style because they dislike the look of wooden
raised beds in rows. The edging around the mounded soil is
appealing to residents who are concerned about a garden being
disorderly in a residential neighbourhood due to soil erosion and
lack of garden rental bed boundaries.Call Alberta One Call to get
map of buried utilities. Place garden beds well away from
buried utility lines
To build one of these gardens, you need to:
- Mark out the boundaries of the entire garden.
- Plan and invite residents to a sheet mulching party.
- Sheet mulching makes a weed barrier of heavy corrugated
cardboard or multiple layers of newspapers overlapped and sprayed
- Layer on straw, soil and compost over entire site. Do not use
- Layer on pathway material according to measurements on the
- Place garden edging and secure into ground firmly.
- Move soil into areas within the edging
- Complete the layer of pathway materials
- Label garden beds
- Assemble a container food garden near the water source,
accessible pathway, parking and seating area. Use large
containers that are 22 to 24 inches high for accessible gardening
from lawn chairs and wheelchairs.
Model B: Raised Wooden Garden Beds (sod removed)
Based on the the example of the South Garden: Community
Crop Society, this model incorporates low-rise wooden raised beds
with tarpaulin under footpaths and removal of sod.
- Call Alberta One Call in advance.
- Arrange order of wood cut to specific lengths, garden mix soil
and footpath materials.
- Construct the wooden frames for the garden beds ahead of the
- Purchase weed barrier material.
- Book a bobcat and trained operator.
- Mark out the perimeter of the garden.
- Rent a sod cutter and remove sod.
- Consider berm gardens made out of sod turned upside down,
covered with loam and planted with perennials.
- Have lots of strong volunteers to build the berm gardens.
- Order extra soil to cover the berm gardens.
- Place very large tarpaulins or nonwoven landscape weed barrier
fabric on the ground with overlaps. Secure into the
- Construct wooden garden beds with screws and braces for corners
- Place the completed garden beds according to the garden drawing
- Measuring carefully so footpath areas are wide enough for a
wheel barrow to travel and for two gardeners to be
comfortable working at beds on either side of a footpath.
- Cut the tarpaulin within the beds in an X, bring it up and
staple to the inside of the bed to protect the wood from moisture
and to permit drainage to the ground below within the garden
- Set up the accessible gardening areas so that a gardener in a
wheelchair, walker, scooter or lawn chair can move and turn around
easily to get water, tools and supplies.
- Accessible pathway material here needs to be firm so wheels can
roll easily. You may wish to use tamped down powdered rock
Trail Mix over a bed of weed barrier and gravel for drainage.
(Woodchip mulch is not satisfactory for accessible footpaths.)
- Fill garden beds with loam that has 50% compost.
- Place a minimum of four inches wood chip mulch on pathways
between garden beds. Each year this will be added to because
the wood chip mulch will break down naturally.
Wicking Beds (with sod in place or on asphalt or in
Wicking beds are becoming a popular choice for community
gardeners.because they conserve water and do not have to be watered
as often as ordinary raised garden beds.
Instructions, Photos and Diagrams
"From the Bottom Up: a DIY Guide to Wicking Beds"
(with photos) by Rob Avis, Verge
in Permaculture News: from The Permaculture Research Institute of
How -To Videos
Food is Free Project: How to Build a
Raised Wicking Bed (from wooden pallets) 10:27
Wicking Beds: Sustainable Gardening
Australia 6:49 minutes
How to Make a Wicking Bed Container Food
Garden From a Wine Barrel with Steve Batley, landscape
architect and permaculture designer. Randwick City
Council 29:56 minutes