As sustainable gardening increases in popularity, so does the rise in raised garden bed building. Constructing raised beds permits you to compose the picture-perfect soil mixture for your plants, reduces weeds, allows for more dense planting in a given space, makes gardens more accessible, keeps the soil warmer for earlier and later planting, and allows anyone to grow abundantly despite their native soil quality.
While raised garden beds can be constructed out of a plethora of building materials, making a brick raised garden bed can give you sturdy and long-lasting results.
Follow our guide on making a brick raised garden bed and find out all you need to know about building a robust garden bed that will stand the test of time.
Benefits of a Brick Raised Garden Bed
A brick raised garden bed is an excellent long-term investment that provides gardeners with a multitude of benefits.
- Soil Quality: You can compose the ideal soil mixture for your plants no matter how poor your native soil is.
- Less Work: Growing in raised garden beds, especially those elevated off the ground, makes for less arduous work such as bending, weeding, watering, and harvesting.
- Extended Planting Season: The soil warms up more quickly in brick-raised beds, which means that you can begin growing your plants earlier and extend the growing season later.
- Raised garden beds allow you to plant more densely, which means you can grow more plants in a given area.
- Pest Management: When plants are off of the ground, it keeps pests like slugs and tunneling critters away.
- Less soil erosion will occur when a construction material like bricks frames soil.
- Loose, rich soil and dense planting make weeding a breeze.
- There is less soil compaction because no one is walking or driving over the soil.
- Brick-raised beds will not rot like wood will over time. It is a durable and more permanent option for raised bed gardening.
Using Recycled vs. New Bricks for a Raised Bed
Brick is a functional and beautiful option for building raised garden beds, but it can be a high-priced option depending on the type of brick you are building with and whether it’s repurposed brick or new.
Clay brick-raised garden beds will stand the test of time once they are made, but it’s vital to understand and know the history of the material you are using before using a brick-raised bed for growing edibles.
Recycled Brick Raised Garden Beds
Reusing old clay bricks is an option for an organic raised garden bed, but it is crucial to know where the bricks came from and how they were used before planting edible plants in them.
While repurposing old materials seems like the most eco-friendly option, not all building materials are appropriate, and some can actually end up causing more harm than good.
- Fireplace bricks could have a buildup of creosote on them, which is a carcinogen.
- Bricks may have been mortared with toxic adhesives.
- Painted bricks should be avoided because chemicals can leach into your soil.
- Industrial and specialty bricks can contain harmful elements that can contaminate your soil. It’s best to avoid commercial bricks entirely.
Making a Brick Raised Garden Bed
Clay bricks can either be stacked for a short raised garden bed, or they can be mortared together if deeper raised beds are desired. You can also create double-wide walls for added strength when mortar is not being used.
Where to Build Brick Raised Beds
- Select an area of the yard that has full sun conditions.
- Ensure that your design allows you access to your garden beds for harvesting, weeding, and pruning. Raised beds should have at least 2 feet of walking space between them and be no wider than 4 feet across so you can easily reach the middle of the beds.
- Make sure that you can provide level footing for your brick raised bed.
Brick Raised Garden Bed Without Mortar
You can make a brick raised garden bed with or without mortar. If you are making a deeper raised bed, mortar can be used to keep bricks together. However, be sure to use a sand-based mortar that is only for residential use.
Many commercial mortars contain harmful contaminants that can find their way into your soil and your food. This is particularly important, as mortars tend to break down more quickly than their brick counterparts.
Building A Brick Raised Bed:
- Ensure that you are using materials that are safe for edible plants and your soil.
- Determine your measurements. This includes the side and depth of your planting bed. Use the length of the brick you are using to do your measurements so that you won’t have to cut any bricks.
- Make sure that your building space is level. Use a line level and stakes to stake out your raised garden bed. This is important when building with bricks. The foundation they are laid on will affect the outcome of the project. Getting the first layer of bricks as level as possible will make the rest of the project go much more smoothly.
- As you lay bricks, add or remove dirt under each brick to ensure that each brick is level.
- If you are making a short raised garden bed, you can stack bricks 3-4 bricks high without securing bricks in place with adhesive. Unsecured bricks brick can be bumped out of place by critters or intense rainfall. For increased stability, build the bed with a thickness of two bricks all the way around.
- If you are building higher than that or want to ensure more sturdiness, apply a sand-based residential mortar mix between bricks as you lay them.
- If you used mortar, follow the instructions on the mix and allow the adhesive to cure before filling the raised bed with soil.
- Lay down hardware cloth along the raised bed floor to deter tunneling pests like moles, voles, and ground squirrels.
- Fill the raised bed with raised bed soil or a mixture of native topsoil and well-decomposed compost.
- Add your plants and nestle them in with a couple of inches of mulch along with the top layer of the soil.