How to Line a Garden Bed
Garden beds house your favorite blooms or produce and are staples in many backyards. They look even better—and stay healthier, too—if they've been effectively lined. "Lining a garden bed helps keep nutrient rich soil within the confines of the established bed," says Venelin Dimitrov, a senior product manager at Burpee. "More importantly, [doing so] keeps uninvited weeds from growing up through the bottom of your bed, minimizing maintenance for you and keeping your plants healthier and happier." As an added benefit, this process simply "creates a clean look and beautiful lines in your outdoor space," Megh Wingenfeld, a home and garden creative, adds.
Here, get our expert-approved tips so you can line your own garden bed with ease.
"My favorite way to line a garden bed is with untreated cedar wood, such as the Buckingham Wood Raised Garden Bed ($158, wayfair.com)," Wingenfeld shares. "It's not full of chemicals, it's a natural insect repellent, and it's rot resistant." She explains that you can cut the wood to whatever size you want, but she keeps hers around five-and-a-half inches tall. There are two keys here when placing the wood frame on top of your grass. First, make sure the spot is level and second, place it in an area that has great access to sun. Afterwards, fill it will an equal mix of soil and compost. Lining your bed this way, she notes, will also save you money in the long run, since you'll be able to use less soil over time; Wingenfeld suggests the Tilth "Grow" Raised Bed Mix ($7.50, tilthsoil.com) to get started.
Stones and Brick
If wood isn't your aesthetic preference, you can also use stones or brick and lay them directly on top of your grass to form a bed. Take caution, though, says Dimitrov. "Overly porous stone or brick will absorb water, causing you to water more often to keep plants alive and thriving," he notes. Otherwise, simply follow the same steps as you would if you created a wood raised bed and fill the inside area with a one-to-one ratio of soil and compost. You can even throw grass clippings and leaves into the mix.
If you want even more variety, use recycled plastic or galvanized steel to line the area, Dimitrov offers—or, consider a more decorative route. Deborah Miuccio, the product research and testing coordinator at Gardener's Supply Company, explains that you can use materials like low fencing or even biodegradable natural coconut fiber mulch or recycled rubber to define the area. She notes that these options bring a touch of flair to your landscape and create visual separation between your garden and the rest of your yard.
Garden Bed Care
"Over time, the grass will break down underneath the organic material you've placed on top of it, so there is no need to remove it or till the ground first," Wingenfeld explains. "But if you're afraid of weeds growing through and want protection, lay down cardboard or weed barrier as a base layer." To make sure you have the best root growth possible, your bed should be about at least six inches deep and a maximum of four feet wide, so you won't have to step into your landscape to tend to it.