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Can You Build a Garden Bed on Concrete? 5 Ways to Prep Before You Plant

Turn your paved desert into a lush vegetable garden bed on concrete by focusing on these five prep steps.

Big Ripe Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) in a Summer Garden

Is your backyard less of a yard and more of a concrete desert? Or maybe the terrain is too rocky or uneven for you to live out your vegetable garden dreams. There’s no reason to throw in your green-thumb-towel yet! There are lots of options to build a garden bed on concrete. Heck, people use cinder blocks to line gardens, so why not use them to build one? With a little strategy and planning, you can have a vegetable garden in a nontraditional space like a cement patio or walkway. Check out these five ways to prep your space and garden bed before you plant.

Pick a location

Take a good look around your yard. Is there a section of your yard that receives 6+ hours of sunlight? Vegetable gardens need a lot of sunlight so it’s best to choose a spot that will get the most coverage throughout the day. If you’re not sure about an exact location or want the option to move your garden bed on concrete, you can build the bed with casters or a furniture dolly attached to the base. Just remember that your garden bed will become very heavy once you start adding layers of soil and compost.

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Build or buy your garden bed

There are many plans out there for a DIY garden bed on concrete and there are also kits you can buy from your home and garden store that take some of the guesswork out of it. If you’re looking for a fully constructed system, there are options out there for purchase that come with everything you need to put together your garden bed. If you go the DIY route, pay careful attention to what materials you use for the bottom of your garden bed. I don’t advise directly layering soil on concrete as this will cause the soil to wash away. You can layer landscape fabric over hardware cloth, a rigid mesh material, and staple both into the walls of your garden bed. This creates a slightly suspended, breathable, and drainable flooring.

A garden bed on concrete will drain more water away from the vegetables than garden beds situated in soil. It’s important to use a mixture of materials to retain moisture in your raised beds. On the other hand, if you’re repurposing a container like a wine or a whiskey barrel, don’t forget to add drainage holes since those containers were originally created to hold in moisture.

Choose your garden bed depth

In general, the minimum depth for a vegetable garden is 12 inches. With a raised garden bed on concrete, I recommend closer to 18 inches or more.  This added depth will help with moisture retention and allow for deeper root systems to form. This is especially important if you’re planting root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, onions, radishes, etc.

Mix up your soil

A rookie mistake I’ve made in the past is to build a garden bed or container garden and just throw in bagged potting soil. It’s so light and fluffy that it ends up draining too quickly and all of the soil’s nutrients wash away. By adding compost or worm castings to your mix, you increase the number of nutrients and add to the density of the soil. Denser soil helps with water retention. Go ahead and throw a bit of mulch on the surface of your garden bed on concrete. Mulch will prevent surface moisture from evaporating too quickly and keep weeds in check

Do you have a garden bed on concrete in your yard? What has helped your garden grow? Share your ideas in the comments!

Discover 7 top tips for growing, harvesting, and enjoying tomatoes from your home garden—when you access the FREE guide The Best Way to Grow Tomatoes, right now!

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