Butterfly Build - Build Your Own Raised Pollinator Garden Bed

Friends volunteers across Georgia have constructed more than 50 pollinator gardens at Georgia's state parks and historic sites. They're so easy and incredibly beneficial for the environment that we are confident that you can create one in your own backyard and have a blast in the process!  Before you build your own, head to your nearest state park to see what they look like and how easy they are to build.  

There are numerous ways to create your own pollinator garden that can fit the style of your home. In fact, Epic Gardening has over 50 fabulous ideas and designs using some basic matierals that you may already have in your own home. Check out Kevin's design's HERE

To build a basic garden like we created at your Georgia State Parks, follow these simple steps and you'll have one of your own!

Step 1 - Select the bed location

If you are building a raised bed, pick the best possible place for the 4’x8’ raised bed (instructions below). Ideally the front (the long piece of wood) faces the southern sky. The plants in this pollinator garden design require as much sun as possible, so look for a place out in the open. You will also want to try and be close to a watering source, so you don’t have to haul water to the bed or hook hoses together to water the plants while establishing their first year.

Step 2 – Prepare the Area

Materials

Soil (Three options)

1. Best Option: Miracle Grow Natures’ Care Organic Raised Bed Soil 1.5 cu ft. bag = 22 bags OR

2. Second Option: Miracle Grow Garden Soil for Flowers & Vegetables .75 cu ft. bag = 44 bags OR

3. Third Option: Timberline Topsoil 1 cu ft. bags = 18 bags AND Black Kow Composted Cow Manure 50 lb bag = 20 bags

 

Mulch

Timberline Mini-Pine Bark Nuggets 2 cu ft. = 4 bags

Other/Tools

Tiller Planting Diagram (included below)

Shovel Potted Plants (plant information included below) Garden Fork Trowels

Tarp (optional) Watering Hose

Wheelbarrow (optional)

Step by Step:

1. Prepare the soil

 

The soil where you plan to build the bed needs to be either tilled, or double dug with a shovel. If you till, it needs to be tilled to a depth of about 18-24”. If you encounter any rocks, roots, or other debris while tilling, please move those to another area. If you do not have a tiller, you will need to double dig with a shovel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_digging Dig the top layer of the soil off, down to the level of your shovel. You will need to place this soil to the side -in a wheelbarrow, or on a tarp for safekeeping. You will need to dig a trench the length of your bed. After digging all of this soil out, you will take a garden fork, and break up the soil the depth of the fork the length of that trench. This is not easy as the soil is often very compacted and you will need to work very hard to really loosen the soil. The more work you put in on the soil, the better your garden will look down the road. Once you have loosened the bottom part of the trench, you will begin again on the top of the soil next to this trench with your shovel, and put the soil you remove in the first trench. When you get down to the level of your shovel, you will loosen the soil with your garden fork again. Repeat this process until you work across the entire width of the bed and then finish by putting the soil from your first trench into the last one.

2. Plants can be placed in the ground or in a raised bed. If choosing the raised bed option, place the constructed raised bed structure over the area that you have prepared and dig in the corner posts. (See instructions below for constructing a raised bed).

3. Add the soil. Now you will add your bags of soil and mix them into the soil below with your shovel. When mixing is complete, use a rake or shovel to spread the soil evenly across the length and width of the bed.

4. Position the plants. Arrange your plants according to the planting diagram provided.

5. Dig holes for the plants. Dig a hole that is approximately the size of the pot. http://www.hgtvgardens.com/perennials/how-to-plant-perennials

6. Plant carefully. Take the plants carefully out of the pots. If any of the plants appear to be pot-bound, gently tickle (loosen) the roots before placing the plant into the hole. Make sure that the crown of the plant, that is, where the plant stem meets the roots, is about 1” above the soil line when you place it in the ground. Gently pack the dirt around the plant.

7. Mulch the bed. After all of the plants are in the ground, mulch the bed thoroughly, to a depth of at least 2”.

8. Water the bed. Water the bed thoroughly, until the soil is saturated to a depth of 2”.

 

Step 3 – Maintain Your Raised Bed

1. Have a plan.

2. New plantings need water. a. Soil should stay relatively moist for first month.

b. One inch of water per week = six gallons per square yard per week

 

3. Occasional weeding will be needed.

4. Do NOT deadhead at the end of the season. Birds and chrysalides use the winter garden.

5. Add mulch when needed.

6. Divide plants when necessary. As a rule plants sleep the first year, creep the second year and leap the third year!

7. If necessary, take steps to deter deer.

 

SUPPORTING MATERIAL

 

Adapted from http://www.sunset.com/garden/backyard-projects/ultimate-raised-bed-how-to

Materials

Four 16-inch-long pressure-treated 4-by-4s, to act as corner posts

Two 4-foot-long pressure-treated 2-by-12s, for bed ends

Two 8-foot-long pressure-treated 2-by-12s, for bed sides

Twenty-four 3.5-inch #10 flat-head wood deck screws

Tools

Drill

1/8-inch drill bit & screwdriver bit

Table saw (if lumber is not pre-cut to size specifications)

Ruler and pencil

Level (optional)

4 adjustable woodworking bar clamps: 2 short (12 -inches) and 2 long (6-foot) (optional)

Step-by-Step

1. Frame

The bed will be built upside down. Working on a flat surface (such as a patio), set a 4-foot 2-by-12 board on its narrow side edge on the pavement; at one end of the board, place a 16-inch 4-by-4 corner post upright and flush with the end of the board. Use two adjustable woodworking clamps—or a buddy—to keep both pieces of wood flush on the sides and bottom.

2. Drill to attach

Before securing the post to the 4-foot board, help prevent the wood from splitting by pre-drilling three evenly spaced holes in the board with the 1/8” drill bit. Then, secure the board to the post with three, 3.5” screws. (Once the board is secured to the post, the woodworking clamps can be removed if they are being used.)

3. Repeat to complete

Now that the previous step’s post-adding techniques are mastered, repeat those techniques to attach a corner post to the other end of the 4-foot board. Repeat this technique to add the remaining 4-foot board and attach a corner post to each end.

The two 4-foot ends of the raised bed are now completed and it is time to attach the bed’s longer sides: Position the first of the 8-foot 2-by-12 side boards between the two 4-foot bed ends. Make sure the 8-foot board is flush with each corner post (hold them steady with the woodworking clamps—or grab that buddy again), and then pre-drill each board end with three holes and secure it to a post with three, 3.5” screws. Repeat to attach the remaining 8-foot side board to the awaiting corner posts.

The rectangular bed is now complete!

4. Anchor the bed

Once the bed location is decided upon, dig a 5- to 6-inch-deep hole for each of the corner posts. Then sink each post into the ground.

5. Level the bed

Make sure the bed is level on all sides (using a level if you have one); this will ensure that when watering the water will spread evenly through the soil. Then backfill the corner holes with dirt to steady the posts.