The Ultimate Guide to Filling Raised Garden Beds

If you have empty raised garden beds it can feel overwhelming to fill them up. In this post, I will give you tips and techniques on how to easily fill your raised garden beds with the right soil, compost, and other materials so that you can save money and start off with a healthy and productive garden.

Olle Gardens raised garden bed filled with soil

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Raised garden beds are a popular choice for growing vegetables, herbs, and flowers. They make planting and harvesting easier. They keep your plants contained in a specific area. And they are an easy option if you’re starting your garden for the first time.

But before you start planting, it’s important to know how to properly fill your raised garden beds so that you can start off with a healthy garden.

So let’s get to it!

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Fill the Bottom of the Raised Garden Bed with Organic Materials

One of the first steps in filling a raised garden bed is to add organic materials to the bottom. This can include leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste.

These materials will break down over time and provide nutrients to the plants. But depending on how deep your garden bed is, you can also add larger materials to the bottom such as logs, sticks, and rocks.

Logs and wood in the bottom a raised garden bed

Aim to fill the bottom third of the bed with organic materials but also make sure to leave at least a foot of space for soil at the top.

I have the Olle Gardens Raised Bed and their site has a really great image below to help you visualize how this should look.

How to fill a raised garden bed tutorial image

Choose the Right Soil Mix

Once you have added organic materials to the bottom of your raised garden bed, it’s time to choose the right soil mix. Look for a mix that is specifically designed for raised garden beds, as it will have the right balance of nutrients and drainage.

I personally used “E.B. Stone Organics Raised Bed Mix” which is sold at our local nursery, but there are many great options out there. Just look for mixtures designed for raised beds.

Avoid using regular dirt from the yard, as it can become compacted and limit root growth. A good soil mix should contain a blend of premium ingredients that provides nutrients to the plants, holds onto moisture, but also drains well to get rid of excess water.

Watch exactly how I fill my raised garden beds in the video below!

How to Fill Raised Garden Beds Easily & Cheaply

The Formula for Calculating How Much Soil to Get

In general, bagged soil or compost is sold in cubic feet. So here is the formula you will need to figure out how much soil to get.

Width (ft.) x Length (ft.) x Depth (ft.) = Cubic feet

After you have filled the bottom of your raised bed with organic materials, if necessary, measure the depth of your garden bed from the top of the added materials to the top of the raised bed. Then measure length and width and multiply each measurement.

The important thing to remember is that each measurement has to be measured in feet, not inches. For example, if the depth is 15 inches, you need to divide 15 by 12 which is 1.25 feet.

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Add Compost for Nutrients

Adding compost to your raised garden bed is a great way to provide your plants with the nutrients they need to thrive. Compost is rich in organic matter, which helps to improve soil structure and fertility.

You can make your own compost by collecting kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic materials and allowing them to decompose over time.

Or, you can purchase compost or soil amendments from a garden center or nursery. Spread a layer of compost or amendment over the soil mix in your raised garden bed, and mix it in thoroughly with a garden fork or tiller.

Quick Tip

  • Make sure the compost or amendment is “weed-free” and make sure that it’s safe to use for vegetable gardens.

Use Mulch to Retain Moisture

Mulching your raised garden bed is an effective way to retain moisture and suppress weed growth. Organic mulches like straw, leaves, or grass clippings can break down over time and add nutrients to the soil.

You can also use inorganic mulches like gravel or landscape fabric, but they don’t add any nutrients to the soil.

Apply a layer of mulch about 2-3 inches deep around your plants, being careful not to cover the stems or leaves. This will help keep the soil moist and reduce the need for frequent watering.

Are you looking for raised garden beds for your own garden?

  • I really love the raised beds that Olle Gardens offers.
  • You can use the code AUDREY10 at checkout and save 10%.

Are you ready to start a raised bed garden?

If so, be sure to check out my masterclass, How to Start and Grow a Raised Bed Garden.

This masterclass will give you actionable tips and advice whether you are just a beginner gardener or consider yourself a pro!

Cover image of my masterclass, How to Start and Grow a Raised Bed Garden

What You’ll Learn…

✅ The pros and cons of raised bed gardening and how to decide if it’s a right fit for you and your gardening goals.

✅ Where to put your raised beds and a walkthrough of different raised bed options whether you are wanting to buy them or build them yourself. 

✅ How to choose the best plants to put in your raised beds, a list of varieties better suited for smaller spaces, and the difference between different plant varieties that take up less space. 

✅ How to maximize your space with companion planting and succession planting strategies. As well as how to implement vertical growing when possible. 

✅ How to fill raised garden beds and a formula that will help you figure out the correct amount of soil to get in both yards and cubic feet.

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Raised garden beds filled with soil

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