DIY Garden Bed (Low Waste)

One of my big goals for this year (something that’s been on my bucket list for some time now!) has been to grow a garden full of plants I can use to make essential oils with! (exciting, right?! 😉 )

Before and after; I’m just over the moon with how well this DIY garden bed turned out!

I’ve always found the idea of making my own essential oils exhilarating (I live for the small things in life), and recently, with lockdown going on, I went about making this goal happen.

BUT, I was faced with a little problem… I had no where to grow these “essential oil plants”.

So, I set out creating my own DIY garden bed, where I could dedicate a section of my garden to these plants, and ensure they thrived with new soil, compost (as organic fertiliser) spread throughout the soil, and weed mat laid down to prevent the plants around them absorbing all the water and nutrients. I used old bricks we had lying around the yard (some I’d collected from my trash walks – the things you find lying around your neighbourhood would surprise you… or at least they did for me 😉 ) as the edging for my garden, but you could also choose to use wood panelling or stones, too!

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These were the bricks I found whilst on my trash walk, now tucked snug into the edging for my garden bed. It’s a great low waste idea if you’re looking to repurpose old materials lying around your yard.

I was so thrilled with the end result of our garden bed (I actually screamed with joy!), that I thought I’d share the how-to’s to making one with you all, in case you had a little garden project you were wanting to work toward (that involved making garden beds, too! Or if you weren’t, maybe you are now, haha).

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You can just see the sheer excitement in my face haha 😉

So, let’s get started!

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How to Make a Low Waste Garden Bed

To kick-start our DIY garden bed, you’ll first need to dig out a square, rectangular, circular, oval, or whatever kind of shaped hole (to a depth you desire) that you’ll be laying with weed mat (this helps prevent any trees, big plants, etc. from taking all the nutrients and water from your new plants).

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Dig out the soil where you want to place your garden bed. This provides a space for you to lay weed mat down which will help prevent other plants in the vicinity from stealing water, nutrients, and other resources from your new plants.

Once you’ve dug out the hole of your garden bed, lay down weed mat along the bottom and up the sides of the hole, then keep in place by (carefully) pouring the soil back over the top.

Laying down the weed mat; it quickly became a two-man job in our home.

Fill the hole back in with your soil (or replace with fresh soil from your local nursery if your previous soil is unfavourable for growing plants in). You should have the hole filled almost to the top.

Pouring the soil back over the weed mat, filling the hole back in.

Next, collect up some compost at build up your soil as much as you can (we used most of our compost on our previous garden, so this is as much as I could gather.

I gathered as much compost as I could (our compost bins were almost empty from previous use on other garden beds). It was just enough to build the soil up to ground level. 

I substituted our compost with some whoflungdung we bought from our local nursery (an organic, natural, sustainable super mulch that plants LOVE, that when added to soil, introduces a wide range of beneficial bacteria), to build up our soil even more.

Mixing the whoflungdung and compost in with the soil, to combine them. 

Once you built up your soil to the desired level, mix the compost (and if using, whoflungdung or other organic fertiliser of choice) through your soil well, until well combined. You want to mix the organic fertiliser through as deep as you can, so it mixes with the soil to boost its’ nutrient levels.

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If you didn’t purchase fresh new soil, and used the old soil (like we did), you want to pour this soil back into the hole and mix the whoflungdung, compost, or other natural fertiliser you’re using with this. 

Now, add an edging around the perimeter of your garden bed; using old bricks or other materials you have lying around as a low waste option, or wood panelling, stones, etc. that you wish to use to create the boarder of your garden. Feel free to get creative with this part! I used wood panelling as the edging for my veggie patch, and bricks for the other garden beds we have in our yard.

I upcycled old bricks we had lying around, but we also used wood panelling for one of our other garden patches.

Once you’ve created the edging for your garden, spread the soil out and flatten it all so it meets the edging of your garden bed (you don’t want your soil to be overflowing over your edging. If this is happening, simply build up the edging until it falls in line with the soil, or vise versa if you need to build up the soil to meet the edging.

Before and after; you want your soil to fall in line with (or be as close to) the edging of your garden. Not too high, not too low. 

Now it’s time to give the soil a good water! It’s important that the soil’s damp before you transplant the plants into it, as they take to the soil better when it’s been freshly watered than if it was dried out. Once you’ve finished water the soil, let it sit and allow the water to drain down and soak in for around 20 minutes before you go to plant in your new additions to your garden!

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Give soil a good water before replanting in your new plants. Let the water soak in for approx. 20 mins afterwards to ensure it’s soaked through.

You’ll also need to give your new plants a good water before transplanting them, as again, they fair much better if they’ve been watered before being transplanted than if not.

Give your plants a good water too, as this will help ensure they take to the soil better when they’ve been transplanted.

Once both soil and plants have been watered well, you’re free to replant them into your new garden bed!!! AHHHHHHH!! Feel the excitement build, haha.

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Time to plant in your new additions to your garden! This is the exciting part! (At least it was for me

Once planted, give them another good water to give them a good start, and ensure they take to the soil as best they can (transplanting is a big ordeal for plants, so you want to give them the best start possible).

Tadaa! Your DIY garden bed is finished!! Woooohooo! Time to bring out the champagne and celebrate! (responsibly, of course 😉 ).

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Your new garden bed is ready!!

Let me know how your plants go, and what you’re growing!! I’ll be sure to update you on how my “essential oil plants” fair, and I can’t wait to share the essential oils I make with you all! Stay tuned if you’re as keen as me to make them.

For a live run-through of how I make this DIY garden bed, see my video tutorial below!

What plants are your growing in your garden? Have you used any of them in recipes or homemade products? Share your story below!

Lots of love,

🖤 Vanessa