Concrete / Cinder Block Beds - Slope Issue

mr-legume(6)March 12, 2009

1. Built the base of my first bed this weekend - planning on one more row of blocks on top. Exactly how level do i need to get it? i think i'm at least 6 inches out of level from one side to the other. will that leave me with a perpetually wet and dry side?

2. Can anyone tell me what this is? I love it creeping up the trumpet vine. hard to notice all summer till the yard is devoid of green. also is this what is considered "tardily deciduous"?


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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

If you're happy with the way it looks, then that's all that matters. Look at it this should drain well! :-)


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 10:18AM
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Dan Staley

First, the most important thing is you want to be level. Too late now, so you'll likely end up having a slope on your soil. Not necessarily a bad thing, it will make it harder to irrigate and you'll have to figger it out. Whether you'll have a dry side is up to you, but 6" is enough so you can do a little cut and fill in the middle to slow the water down, or place something in there to slow the water down.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 10:18AM
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I made my first 4x8 bed the exact same way (cinder blocks), with a very similar slope. Here's what I learned:

1. Depending on your winters, the blocks may heave by spring, so you may have to fix them. Not a big deal, just keep it in mind.

2. With ANY slope, you will have runoff. The peat repels water if it's on a slope. If you can;t correct the slope, I'd use Mel's suggestion of saucer-shaped depressions around the base of the plant, and watering by hand. Otherwise, within a month you'll be losing your water to the low side,where more of the mix will gravitate to as well. I don't mean to be a downer, but I wish someone would have told me this before I set mine up that way!

Unfortunately, most of my yard slopes, so this year I'm building boxes and levelling them with cinderblocks. Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 10:29AM
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Dan Staley


saucers are fine but sheet flow from precipitation will wash soil downhill. You want a series of little cross-slope berms or a line of old 2x4s or something to make a check dam(s) to slow the sheet flow to minimize erosion.

Our very large raised bed (~76 lf and 256 sf of face) got a field change while we were building it, as the better half didn't like the look of one grade change, so we were left with a section having a 9 in fall, requiring me to put in a scrap concrete berm to check the slope. This check dam also retains a little heat in addition to stopping the sheet flow from the heavy downpours common here on the Front Range.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 12:36PM
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Dan -

You're right... I wasn't even considering sheet flow. In retrospect, I bet this was a much larger contributing factor to the overall erosion of last year's bed. I'm happy with my change to level beds this year...

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 3:45PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I think i'll spend the extra time at the beginning and do it right the first time. as i said i still have to add the second level so its not too late. :)

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 4:16PM
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