Let’s talk about Steel Raised Beds today. Many of you have had a lot of curiosity about our steel raised beds we have and I wanted to go through answer all the questions for you. I will jump right in with the common ones we are asked but you can also see the IGTV I did all about them answering even more questions if you are curious.
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Why did you choose Steel for your raised beds?
We decided to use steel for our raised beds because we plan to stay here for a long time. We don’t plan to move for at least 10-20 years or so. That said, we are in it up here for the long haul and wanted our beds to hold up to that sort of longevity. If you use Cedar it will hold up for 5-10 years at the very most and with the steel we should see a solid 15-20 years out of them…possibly even more. So though it was an investment we also knew we could easily in 20 years spend the same amount on replacing cedar raised beds.
They are not for everyone because of the cost involved, but if you believe you are going to be somewhere for a long period of time these can be a great way to invest in your garden.
How much did each bed cost?
The cost of the steel came to $90 per box without any dividers. Adding dividers was an additional $40 in materials. We then paid to have them custom welded for $67 a piece including the addition of 9 dividers. Then we sent $400 on soil and delivery to fill the boxes, which comes to about $33 a box in soil as well. That said per box without a divider was $190 with soil and if it had a divider they came to $230. Like I said…this was an investment not a cheap way, but our plan is this investment is both in the home when we do one day sell it and that these boxes last a very long time for us.
What size are your raised beds?
Each box 4’x4′ in width and length and they are 8″ high with 6″ of dirt inside. Some of the boxes have dividers that break the boxes into 4 2’x2′ squares which is great to contain things like mint and strawberries in them.
Do you think they are safe with kids?
I have had multiple fears with them. I won’t lie, but we made a very strict rule that there was no running in the raised beds. So far we have only had one bump on a knee, but if you are fearful of it. You could place a frame on top of them with wood while your children are small and then you could remove it later on.
What did you fill them with?
What kind of steel did you use for the raised beds?
We used 1/4″ untreated steel for the raised beds themselves. They will naturally patina as the iron reacts to the elements.
How did you make them?
We had the raised beds custom made. We ordered the steel directly ourselves and then we had them welded by a local shop and picked them up and had them placed with help. They are very heavy when they are welded. We did try doing welding ourselves with help of a neighbor but we didn’t have the proper equipment so we decided it was easier to hire it out than try to rent equipment and so on.
Why did you choose grass between them?
We debated between gravel, oyster shells, mulch…all of it, but ultimately fell in love with the idea of grass especially with kids. It was very affordable to do as well. Also, with kids, the grass felt friendlier for their feet and our’s. Plus it is easier to remove grass than it is to remove gravel down the road if we wanted to switch it up.
How do you mow the grass between the beds?
We use an electric weed whacker (this is the one we use) to trim between the beds.
How many beds do you have?
We have a total of 12 beds and 3 of them are not divided into 2’x2′ squares.
Does the metal degrade and is that okay?
Yes, it will, but it is solid iron with no treatment so at most what is going into the ground is iron itself. Iron isn’t harmful to your food. You don’t want to consume too much iron directly, but the amount of iron our food would be growing in isn’t harmful. It hasn’t affected our garden at all either. I also am concerned about food being grown over plastic than food being grown near a natural element like iron. I think it depends on what you are comfortable with.
Did you place any wiring under to prevent moles or gophers?
No…but if we didn’t have a huge cement wall surrounding the garden I would say that is necessary. We have mice around in the winter that make their tunnels around the beds but they never get under or into the beds or haven’t yet. If we have an issue we would place some down in the beds, but the chances are slim. I would suggest if you don’t have a 4-5′ cement wall around your beds to consider it, especially if your beds aren’t super deep.
Do you wish you had done them higher or deeper?
I do not because I love that our kids can get to them easily. There is topsoil underneath so we don’t have a problem with root veggies growing well, but I would say if I was older I would want higher beds. We designed this to be more family and child friendly. It makes for bending down though.
How did you come up with the idea?
We had debated it and we had hired a garden designer to help us make a plan. We had a hard time conceptualizing what to do with an empty 2-3 acres around our home so he helped us make a plan. We loved what he designed and we hired him to do portions of the design in phases. I highly suggest having an overall plan for your garden and landscaping even if you don’t accomplish it all at once. It helps you have an idea of how to expand and grow in a specific direction. You can see the original plan and more about it in this post if you are curious.
I answer all these and more in our IGTV so feel free to check it out below. If you have any other questions ask away! I am happy to answer.
If you choose to not use steel for your raised beds, I suggest cedar. Avoid anything that is treated as it can leach into the ground.
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