Video: How to Build a Raised Island Bed with Retaining Wall Bricks

May 17th, 2009

I’m doing videos now, this is the first one I’ve posted (though the fourth I’ve filmed). Some notes.

1. Expect to spend around $5 a linear foot for a 2 brick above ground (3 rows total) retaining wall as in the video. This assumes $1.50 per brick.

2. Use high quality soil for back filling. I used composted cow manure, it is like $1-$2 a bag, not much more expensive than standard topsoil, but oh, so much better. You rarely get the opportunity to fertilize beneath plants, do it when you can. It all starts with soil. This isn’t poop, it isn’t smelly. It is cow manure that has been composted for a year or more. Its just some of the richest darkest earth you’ll find.

3. Raised beds rule! Sod busting sucks, critters eating plants suck, tilling sucks. With a raised bed you only need to cut up a little sod and can instead dump dirt in instead of tilling or tearing dirt out. Much much easier, much better for the plants. Raised beds also increase drainage, lift your plants off the ground and away from munching rodents (though, obviously, they can climb, so it isn’t foolproof protection. But… rodents also don’t like to sit on top of things exposed to owls and cats and the like). The buried course of bricks can also confound moles and gophers (yes!). If you want to really confound them lay a layer of hardware cloth (fence-like metal sheeting) at the bottom to prevent tunneling up into it. A raised bed also makes it easier to weed (less bending) and can even provide a little freeze protection since cold air sinks.

4. Stone raised beds are the most awesome, but the hardest to make and really really expensive. Wood raised beds are the cheapest and the easiest, but aren’t at all good looking. Retaining wall bricks I think are a good compromise of ease and affordability with attractiveness. By the way, one the size I made in the video is perfect for a dwarf fruit tree.

Full text construction directions to follow soon.

2 Responses to “Video: How to Build a Raised Island Bed with Retaining Wall Bricks”

  1. ted  Says:

    Hi!, I have compiled a list of the top gardening blogs, and yours was included! check it out at

  2. Retaining brick wall  Says:

    If you want an easy mortar to use just buy a few bags of polymer modified render from a specialist supplier, your local builders merchant will either sell it or will be able to point you in the right direction.

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