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A raised bed is ideal for numerous gardens, plots and terraces and provides an opportunity for growing vegetables, flowers and other plants in urban areas. Rock raised beds are popular for their durability, even if it means sacrificing mobility. If you want to build a stone raised bed on your own, you need the right types of stone, tools and detailed instructions for the implementation of the project.
Stone raised bed
tools and materials
Before you can start building the raised bed, you need the appropriate materials, tools and above all the stones. They are the most important thing for wall construction, because they have to have certain properties, especially for use as a raised bed, in order to be able to withstand numerous external influences. The following types of stone have proven to be particularly effective, many of which are popular natural stones that can be attractively integrated into numerous garden projects due to their decorative character:
- crystalline marble
- concrete bricks
The design options vary depending on the type of stone. In most cases, natural stones have irregular edges and therefore cannot be built with absolute precision. On the other hand, these stone types are well adapted to local weather conditions. In addition, even after careful construction, they still offer small loopholes for numerous animals that can use the bed as a shelter.
Bricks, clinker and concrete bricks, on the other hand, are for the dimensionally accurate Wall construction usable. If you use field stones, you need more mortar, but the raised bed looks particularly rustic, natural or even romantic.
In addition to the matching bricks, you will also need the following materials and tools:
- mortar for mixing
- Rabbit wire or other mesh to keep out rodents and vermin
- pond liner
Calculate the need for stones based on the size of the bed. Brick or concrete bricks can be easily calculated due to their fixed dimensions. Natural stones, especially field stones, are difficult to measure accurately. Here you need to estimate and order more as a precaution. The pond liner protects the bricks from moisture.
tip: The use of a stone wall in dry construction is also possible for raised beds, but not really recommended, since the stones are only stacked and fixed to the ground from the inside or outside. This makes it difficult to change the substrate, since the walls of the bed are not as solid as in a brick specimen.
Another important part of the raised bed made of the types of stone mentioned above is the foundation. Without a foundation, displacements occur that negatively affect the stability and structure of the raised bed and can even damage the material in the long term. Therefore, you need to properly prepare the floor to support the weight. The big advantage: You don't have to pour concrete foundations for a raised bed. Here is enough gravel foundation completely, which can save you work, time and money. The required material and tools as follows:
- Gravel (grain size 16 - 32 mm up to a maximum of 45)
- vibrating plate
- long nails
- sturdy cord
- folding rule or measuring tape
Since a raised bed is only a small height and therefore the number of stones used remains small, there is often not a great deal of stress on the soil and the foundation. It is therefore completely sufficient if this has an average depth of 20 centimeters. You can choose the type of gravel you use, but since you don't really see the bed foundation, you can easily go for cheaper options.
Material requirements are calculated using the following formula:
Length in m x width in m x height in m x bulk density in kg/m³ = material requirement in kg
If you have a raised bed measuring one meter long and two meters wide and using Carrara marble gravel with a grain size of 15 - 25 millimeters (1,500 kilograms per cubic metre), you need to calculate the following for the raised bed foundation:
This means you need 600 kilograms for the raised bed foundation. That sounds like a lot at first glance, but you have to keep in mind that this has to carry a lot of soil and plants without shifting. Due to the use of the vibrating plate, volume is also lost because the raised bed foundation is compacted.
Once you have the gravel and vibrating plate, follow these steps to move the raised bed foundation:
1. After choosing a suitable, preferably level, location for the raised bed foundation, start staking out the dimensions. For this you need the long nails and the string, with which the outline for the raised bed made of stones can be easily staked out in a short time.
2. Once the bed has been marked out, start with a 20 centimeter excavation. If you can involve family members or friends in this work, it will go much faster. Make sure that the walls of the excavation in particular do not protrude too far into the hole. A right angle would be ideal. Compact the soil with the vibrating plate.
3. Now fill the hole with a layer of gravel and compact the stones with the vibrating plate. Repeat this progression until the entire hole has been filled in this way.
This completes the foundation. This base is ideal for walling your bed out of stones. Even with very large raised beds, which are used for slope stabilization, for example, it is worth using a cast concrete foundation instead, as this offers more stability over the long term. For a simple raised bed, on the other hand, the gravel variant is completely sufficient.
tip: If you don't have your own vibrating plate or want to buy one, you can rent one from hardware stores and specialist dealers. On average, the rental fees are around 30 euros for a period of four hours, 35 to 40 euros for a day and 50 to 60 euros for a weekend.
Building a raised bed out of stones: instructions
Now everything is ready for the construction of the raised bed. Once you have completed the bed foundation and have the necessary materials available, you can start building your bed. Follow this guide to build:
1. Mix mortar
Begin by mixing the grout for the bricks. Follow the manufacturer's mixing instructions so that the mortar used is not too liquid or too solid. After the mortar has been mixed, start building the wall immediately.
2. Place first layer of stones
The first layer of stones must be laid particularly thoroughly. Begin by placing the bottom row of bricks one by one without mortar. This gives you a good overview of how the further course of building will progress.
3. Align stones
Then use the spirit level to check all the stones. They must not be higher on one side than the other or slightly shifted, otherwise the raised bed will not stand securely. If your bed is not straight, the plants and the substrate can impair the stability and quickly lead to damage under heavy loads. So take your time with this step and align all the stones as best you can.
4. Fix stone layer
Now fix the bottom layer of the wall with mortar. To do this, pick up enough mortar on the trowel and spread it on the stones. If you use field stones, you need more mortar so that the stones really sit. This is particularly important for the bottom layer, as this supports the entire construction. For this variation, try stacking odd or very differently shaped stones, wedge them together, and then fill in the spots with mortar. Once the mortar has dried, it is solid.
5. Layer stones
When the first layer is completed, the second follows. When layering the stones, you should now make sure to place them offset, as with classic masonry. That is, the center of a stone is placed on top of the mortar joint of the lower layer, and so on. Once you have finished setting each brick, use this method to the final height. Give yourself enough time here, because this is the only way the bed will be successful.
The raised bed is now ready for paneling. The next important step is the rabbit wire or another wire mesh that is helpful against all kinds of bugs. This is simply laid on top of the foundation and can be fixed with either mortar or gravel if you have any left over. At the end, check that the grille fits well.
7. Pond liner as moisture protection
Pond liner is the next step in making your stone raised bed a reality. Cut these to line the insides, which are then protected against moisture ingress. This is particularly important for the mortar and the somewhat more delicate types of stone such as brick or sandstone. For attachment, the foil is slipped over the edge and then fixed with a layer of mortar and other stones. Alternatively, you can think of more decorative ways like wooden slats or small flower boxes that you use to extend the raised bed. Let your creativity run wild here.
8. Fill the raised bed
Finally, you can start filling the raised bed. Before doing this, let the mortar dry completely so that it does not shift and lead to unstable walls. If it should rain during the drying time, a rain protection. Humidity is not necessarily recommended for drying.
In this way, the basic variant of a raised bed that you can build yourself succeeds. You can of course customize your raised bed in terms of design, shape and all other points to suit your taste. The more manual skills or experience you have in this area, the more interesting the results will be.
tip: Autumn is the best time to plant a raised bed filled with compost. By this time, the garden and kitchen waste has sufficiently decomposed over the summer and can be used as a nutrient-rich substrate.