A Raised Bed to Add Value to my House

Adding value to my house is one of my financial goals. This latest addition will hopefully make the front facade more visually appealing. It also perfectly aligns with my excitement about spring. Things are starting to grow again and there is more and more light every day. 

I tried to build raised beds from reclaimed wood first

I set my sights on these old sleepers to build my raised bed with because I have plans for the back garden which I posted about here. I pulled up all of the sleepers that I had set down in the back garden. The overall plan is to change the area pictured above from a seating area (that I never used) to a raised bed vegetable garden.  This is because I realised I much prefer doing stuff in my garden rather than just sitting in it.

A few of the sleepers were totally rotten when I pulled them up but others were in good condition, so I moved them out front to see if they would be suitable to use to construct the raised bed. In the end I decided against using them because they were very different looking to the raised bed I already have out the front which I built last year. 

However, I still found a way to put the sleepers I didn’t use to good use, even the rotten ones.

Building a raised bed - sleepers
Building A Raised Bed
With Treated Wood

I decided I would have to buy treated wood from my local building suppliers for a consistent and durable outcome. Most importantly, I needed rough-sawn, treated timber because of the moisture content of the soil. Untreated timber won’t last, so I purchased the following lengths:

  • 1 x 8ft long 2×2″ for the corner post/connectors
  • 2 x 16ft long 6×2″ for the sides

I had to bring my saw with me to the suppliers yard and cut them on site so they would fit into my car. 

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Total Cost of Wood

Constructing the Panels of the Raised Bed

The design of these things is very straight forward. A hand saw was all I needed to make the cuts and my speed square offered me accurate measurements.

I ended up using my kitchen floor while I was putting the panels together just because it’s the only flat surface I have available to me. Also, if I make a mess of the lino it will force me to get rid of it and finally install a decent floor. 

Assembly of the Raised Bed

I was using my corded drill for the entire build because I don’t have my cordless one any more. Years ago, I borrowed the cordless drill from my brother. I had it for ages but he needed it back to finally do some DIY for himself – still in shock here.

The corded drill is much more powerful and not intended for use as a screw driver so I had to be careful. It was jumpy at first but I got used to it.

You can see me using my spirit level in the picture above and this is because the area that the raised bed is sitting on slumps down towards the right on a slight slop. This is because of some subsidence but fear not, a structural engineer said it’s just the earth around the house and my foundations are perfectly good. 

Using Hügelkultur to Fill the Raised Bed

Hügelkultur? What the hell is that? It’s a German horticultural technique that is usually used to create a mound around logs and decaying plant matter.

In this case though, I used a variation of it to half-fill the raised bed. This is where those rotten sleepers came in handy.  A few whacks with a hammer and most of them broke apart. 

So the science behind this technique isn’t solid but there are a few YouTubers who swear by it so I thought I would give it a try. Using Hügelkultur not only reduced the amount of compost I had to buy to fill the raised bed. It also, in theory, provides food for worms and a source of slow release nutrients for the soil. 

I added smaller sticks and the contents of several bags of leaves that I picked up around Glasnevin (gotta love those big trees). Luckily, some other environmentally friendly person had bagged all of these leaves in bio-degradable bags. The bags had already begun to break down and they mostly came apart in my hands.

 

After that, I laid hessian sacks on top for a few days to let the bed get soaked in the shite weather we are having right now. Storms only happen at weekends in Ireland these days.  The hessian sacks kept everything from blowing away – I got them for free at Java Coffee Roasters. A few days later I put two bails of compost as the top layer. 

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Total Cost of Compost

Planting the Raised Bed for Free

This bit cost me no money at all! Because all of the plants I put into this space either came from cuttings I took last summer. Or they were moved/divided from plants that I needed to clear out of the back garden to make space for the vegetable raised beds. 

This is a good time of year if you are going to risk dividing or moving plants as they are still mostly dormant and the weather is slowly improving. You just have to keep an eye on the weather forecast. If we have any frost or apocalyptic Siberian snow storms due; cover them with horticultural fleece and then go and stock up on bread. 

I also have some cuttings from a beautiful climbing hydrangea, pictures here. I want to put two into this bed, one in each corner and let them grow up either side of the window. 

You might recognise the planter on the sill there from an earlier post – I have some lavender or strawberry plants that I propagated last year ear-marked for there. 

Final Costs and Value of Raised Bed

The wood was €49, the compost was €12, the screws were €5 for a whole box but I only used a handful and the plants were free because I propagated them all myself. So all in, that’s €66 to improve the aesthetic quality of the front of my house. 

Does this add value to my house? I very much doubt it. However, they do say that a house is sold in the first 60 seconds so first impressions do count.  

On the other hand, I am adding something the needs to be maintained. I haven’t posted about it yet but there is a chance that I might be moving out of my house and turning it into a full rental soon. Have I just given my potential future tenants a headache they don’t want? Will I have to regularly maintain the front of the house? (Which is, in fact, a landlords responsibility. Or maybe I have provided them with something beautiful that they will appreciate?

Too often I hear about landlords who pave over everything in trying to find the lowest maintenance solution. Honestly, I don’t mind coming back to do the weeding if I end up with an attractive, flower-filled bed that attracts bees, butterflies and happy tenants. In short, I think this was a worthwhile project. 

UPDATE!

It’s August 2020 and things have been growing well since I built the raised bed at the front of the house. The plants are now well established and in full flower. Many of the tubers I planted have also come up strong.  I also added some petunias I grew from seed.

The only issue I have had so far is some of the young plants at the very back of the raised bed have struggled a little during dry spells. This is because this section is sheltered from rain due to the overhang of the roof of the house. Sometime I have to get out my watering can to help them out. I expect that this will become less of a problem when the plants are better established and I add more mulch during the winter. 

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