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Step by step, how to build a sturdy raised bed.

Sturdy good looks can bring a raised bed like the one pictured here to center stage in any home garden. Landscape architect Jack Stafford designed it to show off 'Olympiad'--the official rose of the 1984 Olympics--in Sunsent's 7-acre gardens in Menlo Park, California.

Edging a path on one side and surrounded by lawn on the other three sides, the bed raises to eye level a nearly nonstop show of blooms from late spring into fall. The 2-foot-deep bed (we excavated beneath the box) holds a well-amended soil mix that keeps roots above dense existing soil.

This bed is massive--11 feet long and 4 feet wide--but you can scale down overall dimensions and lumber size to build a smaller one. If you start this month (weather permitting), you can have a blooming show of 'Olympiad' roses in time for the Olympic games.

Preparing the site. After peeling away the old sod from the chosen spot, we removed the top 14 inches of dense soil beneath, tamping an 8-inch-wide ledge of earth around the inside to support the box. The ledge is 4 inches below original lawn level. For better drainage, we turned the hard subsoil in the center with a spading fork.

To accommodate corner posts, holes were dug into each corner of the bed with a post-hole digger.

Building the bed. We used construction heart redwood for the four 2-by-12 sides and 4-by-4 inside corner posts and mowing strips; the cap is clear heart redwood. Sides were butt-jointed and nailed with 4-inch (20d) galvanized nails. The 2-foot-long corner posts were nailed to the corners from the inside; to keep the posts from showing below the cap, their tops were beveled on two sides with a radial arm saw. The movwing strip was attached from the inside with 4-inch (20d) galvanized nails, spaced every 12 inches. Caps are butt-jointed 3 by 6's. Deep brown semitransparent stain finishes the wood.

Planting the bed. Seven 'Olympiad' roses fill each bed (for more on 'Olympiad', see the December 1983 Sunset). At their base is lobelia, which blooms best in full sun where summers are cool and needs filtered sun in warmer climates.

Nonstop rains and muddy soil delayed our planting last year beyond bare-root season (that's why you see Sunset's gardeners planting roses from containers in the photograph for step 5). For more information on how to plant bare-root and container roses, refer to the Sunset Western Garden Book.

Plants were spaced 3 feet apart on center; how far apart you space other rose varieties depends on their growth habit and your climate. They should be far enough apart at maturity to allow good air circulation between plants.

A slow-release granular fertilizer (14-14-14) was scattered around the roses and worked into the top 6 inches of soil at planting time and scattered once during growing season. In addition, plants get a feeding of diluted-strength liquid fertilizer monthly during growing and bloom season--May through October.

Cutting back spent blooms regularly (as often as every day during peak bloom) keeps the roses looking their best.
COPYRIGHT 1984 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1984
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