Raised Bed Construction

The volunteers at the end of the work session.

The UAA Student Garden is a raised bed garden, built on a previously grassy space on the west side of the Beatrice McDonald Hall. The garden beds were constructed on a warm Saturday afternoon in the middle of May (the 14th, to be exact). The bed construction event was one of the garden project’s first “hands on” activities, and we were ecstatic when 16 eager volunteers showed up to help. Once the site was prepared and the materials procured and prepped, construction took about two and a half hours.

Sod Removal The cleared garden plot!

The day before bed construction, UAA Facilities removed the sod from the garden plot. This was very awesome, and now we don’t have to deal with killing the grass to prevent it from spreading to our beds. Thanks, Facilities!

Cedar PlanksInitially, the Sustainability Club discussed using salvaged scrap lumber for the raised beds in the garden, but we ended up choosing cedar planks. UAA Facilities requested that we go with cedar in order to ensure that the beds were not only aesthetically pleasing, but also durable and long lasting.

Before the beds could be assembled and placed on the newly de-sodded garden plot, the ground had to be leveled (to prevent water run-off) and the cedar planks had to be prepared for easy on-site assembly. Aleks (Sustainability Club President) and Sunny (the club’s advisor) took the 1×10 cedar planks to Sunny’s Dad’s workshop, where they were measured and cut. Volunteers used rakes to level the slightly sloping plot before they constructed the four rectangular raised beds.

Marking the garden plot for bed placement. Constructing the beds

More bed preparation. Group bed installation!

Once the beds were assembled and placed (go to the Garden Map to check out the bed placement) volunteers filled them with soil. Along with the raised beds, our garden also has halved whiskey barrels for growing things such as potatoes, zucchinis, herbs, and berry shrubs. We adapted the barrels to fit our needs by creating a proper water drainage system in each barrel. First, we drilled holes in the bottoms, then, we placed a base layer of rocks and weed cloth beneath the soil to prevent the holes from clogging with dirt.

 Drilling the holes in the halved whiskey barrels. Using rocks for the barrels' water drainage systems. Soil for the newly constructed beds.

The final step was to spread wood chips donated by Greatland Tree Service between the beds and the whiskey barrels to prevent mud and weeds. And with that, the garden beds were ready to be planted!

Our wonderful donated wood chips.  The team spreading the woodchips.

Joshua at MtnBoy Media photographed the bed construction, so thanks to him, we have a wonderful visual narrative of everything that happened. More photos can be found on the UAA Student Garden project’s Flickr account. Joshua also documented the event that followed bed construction: our first gardening workshop! More on that event in the next post.

Post by Jasmine Woodland, Garden Media Coordinator

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