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How to Prepare Soil for a Raised Garden Bed

Raised garden beds are great for places with poor native soil. To prepare soil for raised garden beds, we suggest filling yours with a mixture of two-thirds topsoil (enriched with soil) and one-third compost. We’ve listed the step-by-step instructions here, with a link to a video demonstration – and another link to the next step in completing your raised garden.

Materials needed for a 4' x 12' raised garden bed:

  • Raised bed frame
  • Newspaper
  • Landscape fabric
  • 4 cubic yards of soil
  • 4 cubic yards of topsoil
  • Compost, either homemade or commercially available
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Gardening gloves
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Cultivator or trimmer equipped with the TrimmerPlus® cultivator attachment

Preparing Garden Soil for Raised Beds

After you’ve built your raised garden, you’ll need to place it in your yard and begin preparing the soil bed. First, find a spot that’s mostly in the sun. Some shade can be okay, but the more sun, the better. Next, place newspaper on top of the grass in the box. This step will help inhibit grass and weed growth.

Finally, cut and install landscape fabric in the base of the box. This step helps insulate your garden and further protects it from grass and weeds. Now you’re ready to add soil.

People often ask how to layer soil in a raised garden bed. Use a combination of two-thirds soil and one-third compost. Place the topsoil and the compost in the box, but do not layer the two materials. Use a shovel to gently mix the soil, then use a hand cultivator to further incorporate the mix. You can also use a trimmer such as the TB25SH Straight Shaft String Trimmer equipped with the GC720 TrimmerPlus Add-On Cultivator attachment.

Rake smooth. The final soil should be loose enough for you to insert your finger up to the knuckle. Now you’re ready to begin planting seeds and/or seedlings.