raised bed over a brick patio

scvdsrJune 9, 2009

I have a large brick patio that is never used and I wanted to make a raised veggie garden on it(for next year. The spot sits in the sun all day and can be hooked into the sprinkler system with ease. I have two questions: Does this sound like a good idea? And if so, and how deep should I make the beds?

Thanks

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jengc(7)

I have a friend that has her raised beds on concrete. I thought it would burn them but they are just thriving! I am pretty sure they put a plywood bottom on it (with holes for drainage). I think that is a wonderful idea. I am toying with the idea of making one on my drive way since it is the last place I have that is level and not shaded. But not sure if I can find a spot that isnt in the path to the garage and in full sun.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:41AM
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scvdsr

Do you know how deep the beds are?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 10:06AM
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sinfonian(U8b A2 S5 SeaWA)

I would suggest a landscape fabric barrier under your beds if you have weeds or grass growing between the bricks. You don't need a plywood bottom, though it'll work if you want it.

As for depth, it is the same question asked here countless times. You'll get the same answers. 6 inches is fine, but root crops oe deep rooted plants may benefit from more (can build that section up temporaily). To build higher costs more but most that do it are happy. I am one of those, but my brother swears by 6 inch beds.

Do whatever fits your needs and budget. Good luck and enjoy.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 11:53AM
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scvdsr

I know the 6 inch..but I though that was over a soil base not brick. The plants will not be rooting through brick.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 12:09PM
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gardener_mary(6 MA)

What are you planning on planting? Lettuce, most greens, bunching onions, most herbs will be ok with 6". Beans or cukes maybe ok with 6" but would be better with 8" or more. I don't think summer squash would grow well in less than 8" depth and better with deeper.

If you are planning on tomatoes, you need alot deepper, you may want to look into self watering containers instead. You may want to take a look over at the container gardening forum, there is a lot of info on how deep containers should be for different plants.

Good gardening, Mary

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 12:43PM
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sqftsteve

scvdsr,

I'm thinking about doing this as well (next year). We have a large concrete patio that could be taken advantage of. Some random thoughts I've had on the topic:

1) Carefully consider the height of the beds. It would seem natural to build them about waist high. That would make planting very comfortable, but what happens when the veggies grow an additional 3-4 feet above that? You wouldn't want to have to knock tomatoes off the vines like coconuts.

2) I'm not crazy about using plywood with drainage holes as a base. That could turn into a soggy, warped, rotten mess pretty quickly. My planters are raised, if only by about two inches in an effort to level them. The bottoms are made of a layer of weed barrier and then a layer of 1/2" hardware cloth. It would sag in the middle if not supported, but that might be able to be prevented by putting some cross braces underneath. Drainage is great, and the weed barrier keeps the precious Mel's Mix where it belongs.

3) Instead of letting the planter drain onto the patio (messy), how about putting another thin layer underneath, this time some sort of plastic or metal sheeting (or even thin, _sealed_ plywood). Let gravity form it into a gentle funnel shape, with a single hole in the lowest point. That drains straight down into a watering can for reuse (and less mess).

4) Use lockable casters on the planters. Location too sunny or not sunny enough? Too windy or rainy? Just roll them somewhere more suitable. Plague of locusts appears over the horizon? Roll them into the garage. ;-)

I'm as good an artist as I am a gardener, so don't laugh too hard. But I'm thinking of something along these lines:

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 12:43PM
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scvdsr

Mary - Was planning on tomatoes, beans, cukes, lettuce, strawberries, carrots, peppers, zucinnie. I'll look in the other forum.

As far as drainage i was going to let it drain on the patio very sandy soil here, so the patio drains well.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 6:57AM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)

Are the bricks mortared in place, or merely laid next to each other?

If the latter, I would suggest the following:

1) Carefully break down the patio.

2) Lay down cardboard or newspaper to provide a weed block on the bottom of your bed.

3) Reuse the bricks to form the raised bed (6 inches is all that is required now for certain!). This MAY not provide all the bricks you need, but it will certainly give you a good headstart. (You should only need 3 maybe 4 courses of brick. btw, place the bricks double wide, with an alternating pattern...you can mortar them, or just dry stack them. A dry stack will definitely improve drainage, if your ground ever gets oversaturated.)

4) Fill with mix.

You will have created a very nice looking raised bed, which should last a lifetime (you may need to rebuild the brick wall after several years or so). In addition, you can grow ANYTHING in that bed, depth will NOT be an issue. The first year, the roots would need to work a little harder to break through the cardboard/newspaper, but the second year, they are gone! If you have a good base soil, there will be trace elements available to your plants that MAY not be in your mix. The plants would then have access to them, regardless of the mix you add. BTW, I recommend fertilizing even if you continue to add compost every year. Continue to have your soil tested, or just add a balanced (organic or not, is up to you) fertilizer, that includes trace minerals like calcium, etc. (Garden's Alive! has some very nice products that are completely organic.)

Well, that's what I would do, if I were you! But, its your yard, and your decision. This way would certainly keep costs down, recycle and give your plants access to a much deeper supply of water and nutrients!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 12:12PM
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kathmcd7

Picturing myself harvesting tomatoes like coconuts was the best laugh I've had all day. I've done a lot of things in the name of gardening, but that's not going to be one of them. Thanks sqftsteve.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 5:45PM
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scvdsr

I love that idea of using the bricks thanks...I'll do that

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 7:18PM
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eaglesgarden(6b - se PA)

I'm glad you like the idea. I did this with the front beds of my house. It took about 4 hours to put the bricks in place (I only did 2 courses), since I wasn't concerned with the depth of the bed, but just making it look "neat".

The bricks have been disrupted often (because my son likes to look for "buggies" under them), but I can put them back in place very easily! It's been three years and the ones that haven't been touched yet by my son, haven't needed to be adjusted at all!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 3:34PM
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mcphreak

Here's my raised bed over concrete.

The sides were made from recycled floor joists and sits approximately waist high. 2 years now and now problems with rotting yet. There are no real drainage holes on the bottom. Because the ground is a little slanted, water can seep out of the cracks between the boards and the concrete. Anyway, I think you'll be fine making one on your patio.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 8:40AM
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scvdsr

That was my original idea. But I'm leainng to ripping up the brick where needed and worst care buying other ones as needed to complete the bed

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 10:12AM
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gardener_mary(6 MA)

I like eaglesgarden's idea, wish I had thought of that. I think that would solve all your problems and give you great looking garden beds. If you wanted more depth than the bricks alone give, you could use cinder blocks and top them with the bricks. It sounds like you have exciting project ahead of you, have fun.

Good gardening, Mary

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 11:52AM
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mmqchdygg(Z5NH)

why do I want to go "Quack!" every time I look at that watering can???

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 2:44PM
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scvdsr

Mary

Withe the bricks gone depth will not be an issue. My original plan was to go right over the bricks. I know tomatoes need depth, thus my original question. But now it shall not be an issue. :)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 7:14AM
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