Jane Cheetham - RE/MAX Acclaim

Posted by Jane Cheetham on 5/12/2020

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

Nothing says spring like fresh-turned earth, the tender green of young shoots, and a brand-new DIY project!  

Building a raised bed is a great idea for a number of reasons.  First, your soil may be rocky or have high percentages of clay or sand, in which case it makes sense to put down topsoil.  Raised beds are also one way of leveling sloping land and cordoning off sloping topsoil.  Finally, raised beds look neat and keep your plants neat: within reason, they prevent your plants from spreading to your grass and vice-versa.

Choosing Your Location

Make sure that you are choosing your location such that you receive enough sunlight for your plants to thrive.  Veggies and many flowers require sun or part-sun, so be sure you don't shade your bed overmuch.  If you intend to build more than one bed side-by-side, try to arrange the long sides of your bed north-south so that they don't shade each other!

Choosing Your Wood

The very best wood for raised beds is cedar, redwood or juniper: they're bug- and mold-resistant and have a lovely color and smell.  Raised beds made from these woods can last as long as 10 - 15 years.  It's possible to use less expensive wood, but you should expect to do more frequent repairs.  Other appropriate wood includes pine, fir, black locust or hemlock.


1) Assembling the Bed

You can make the bed any size you choose, but make sure that the bed is elevated at least 6" from the ground.  To make a bed in which you can access plants easily, be sure it's no more than 4' across, so you need no more than a 2' reach on either side.

Cut four, 2x4 anchoring posts cut to a height such that, when you set them down, they are level with the top of the bed.  You may choose to add additional posts alongside the bed, but this is not typically necessary.  Set your finished posts aside.

Next, take clamps and press the boards for each wall together.  Set the corner posts atop these boards, lining them up with the ends of the longer walls and set back 1.5" from the shorter ones.  Once the posts and walls are arranged properly, drill pilot holes and then screw together.

Finally, repeat this process with all four sides to make a box, with the posts on the inside of the raised bed.

You can calculate how much soil you will need by multiplying the length, width and depth of your new raised bed together.  For example, if your raised bed is 6' by 3' by 1.5', you'd multiply (6 x 3 x 1.5) to get 27 ft3.  A common size for topsoil is a 1.5 ft3, so purchasing 18 bags of topsoil would fill your new bed (27ft3 for your whole bed / 1.5ft3 per bag = 18 bags).

2) Setting the Bed

Take your frame and place it in the correct location.  Use a shovel to mark the outside of the raised bed.

Move the frame out of the way and use the shovel marks to tear out the sod, weeds and larger rocks.  If your soil quality is adequate, you can stop here.  If your soil quality is very poor, you may need to keep digging until you have an extra foot of depth.

You may choose to anchor your bed by digging post-holes and even reinforcing with a small amount of concrete at the bottom of each hole.  Make sure you use a level before you finalize the position of your bed!  If you use concrete, be sure to let it cure for 24-48 hours.  

3) Preparing Your Bed to Hold Soil

If you did not choose a rot-resistant wood, line the edges of the bed with heavy-duty plastic along the inside walls and staple with a heavy-duty staple gun.  Otherwise, you may skip this step.

Finally, roll out landscaping fabric along the bottom of your prepared bed with a slight overlap between your sheets, and pour your soil mix inside.  Water the bed with a fine mist to allow the soil to settle into place; then, rake the bed to be sure that the soil is more-or-less level. 

4) Finishing touches

Once you've planted your chosen plants, consider mulching around them, especially if they are perennials.  This can help keep out pests and help retain moisture, as well as keeping weeds away.

If your bed is for annuals, consider mulching the walkway between plant beds!  This can help prevent the spread of weeds.


Best of luck in this and all your new spring projects!

Tags: gardening   gardening tips   DIY  
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Posted by Jane Cheetham on 9/12/2017

No matter how much experience you have as a gardener, mistakes happen to everyone. Some gardening mistakes are actually avoidable. Below, youíll find some of the most common gardening mistakes and how to stay clear of them. Next time around that you decide to plant, youíll have an even greener thumb than you did the season before. 

You Planted Too Early

When the springtime hits, itís easy to feel eager to plant and get your crops going. Planting too early without proper grow cloths or warm enough temperatures can be completely detrimental to anything that is trying to grow. 

Watering Too Much Or Two Little

There is a finite amount of water thatís required for plants to thrive. The general rule is for plants to receive about an inch of water per week. Plants that have not been watered enough will show certain signs including yellowing leaves and wilting leaves. Any fruits that are produced will be deformed. Be sure that you make up for the deficit of water during dry spells that occur by watering accordingly.   

Plants that have been overwatered can also cause yellowing leaves. You donít want your water to pool or cause puddles in the garden. If this happens, youíll need to add a bit more organic matter to the soil itself. 

Not Planting In A Bright Enough Place

Itís a basic scientific principle that plants need sunlight to grow properly. If you have planted things in the shade, they may not thrive. If you donít have a sunny spot to plant your garden, try using portable gardening containers that you can move around. Shoot for at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day for your plants.       

Not Weeding

Weeds can obviously choke your crops, sucking moisture and food away from the plants. If you donít actively work to eliminate weeds, your plants will suffer greatly. Eliminate weeds as soon as you spot them. Allowing one weed to flourish is to allow them all to take over! Mulching can be a great start in helping to keep weeds away. If any weeds are found after the mulch has been put down, be sure to move them promptly. 

Planting Too Much

If you plant too much, space can become a problem. Focus on planting what you and your family like to eat and will actually use. This problem comes down to a matter of preference and taste. You donít want to spend a ton of time gardening just to realize that  youíve completely wasted your efforts. 

Keep in mind that thereís always something new to learn when it comes to gardening. Know that no matter what level of gardener you are mistakes are inevitable but not completely unavoidable.         

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Posted by Jane Cheetham on 1/24/2017

There are a lot of reasons you may want to line your house with plants. Maybe you need curb appeal to attract buyers to your home. Perhaps you have a foundation you want to cover. You could just like the piece of mind that comes with taking care of living plants. Whatever your reasons, I have the plants for you. There are a few things to keep in mind when planting around your house. Remember you should leave at least two foot between the side of your house and your plants. This may mean a little maintenance to your garden beds. There are a few reasons for this. You do not want plants rubbing up against your house and bringing moisture, animals, bugs, and general wear and tear to your siding. Pick the right plant for your house. What style are you looking for here? Depending on the style of your home, you may want a plant that compliments this. Letís talk about a few good options that will suit you, no matter what you are looking for.

  • Hydrangeas are a great pick for the front of your house. They attract the eye without being too ostentatious with their bell shaped pink and purple blooms. You will need three to five feet in height and spread to let them grow to their full potential. These are a great full plant to cover your plain or dare I say unsightly foundation.
  • Blue Angel Hostas love the shady spots of the yard, and are a great pick for the tree lined portions of your home. They like living in moist mulch as most shade plants do, and will need about 3 feet in height and 4 feet in spread. These hostas have big leaves and small stalk blooms. Hostas are perennials, which means they will come back each year and, bonus, they will continue to spread throughout the years. This may mean dividing the plant every few years. They make a great housewarming gifts for your friends and family at times like these.
  • Knockout Roses will last from the spring to the fallís first frost--perfect for continuous beauty. These roses are very low maintenance and easy to maintain. Make sure to cut these roses back in the winter and this will give them a great chance to come back healthy each spring. Knockout roses will need four feet in height and three feet in spread. There are a great choice for any home.
I know creating curb appeal can seem very daunting. It doesn't have to be with a few great choices, no matter your reason for sprucing up your yard. Remember, with a little bit of maintenance any homeowner can be a successful gardener. If you are ready to list your home, I am here to help you. Even if you are just want some attractive plant beds for years to come, I am happy to help you!

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