Converting Lawn into a Vegetable Garden with Raised Garden Beds

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Do you have an unused patch of your yard that?s screaming to be turned into raised veggie garden beds? Don?t make the mistake of throwing away all your turf and bringing in brand new soil. This project is about converting nutrient-rich lawn into the most productive vegetable garden in town. Learn how to turn your into a raised bed garden this year!

How to Build raised Garden Beds

Raised Garden Beds On Your Lawn

This project covers how to convert your lawn into a prolific vegetable garden without waste. Untreated turfgrass makes a nutritious base for your raised bed and will reduce the need for additional soil.

Converting Lawn into a Vegetable Garden with Raised Garden Beds

It seems that every spring, I see piles of removed turf in the back alleys as another gardener removes their lawn to put in a vegetable garden. What a waste!

If the lawn was cared for organically, then the grass, roots, and soil will break down to make some nitrogen-rich soil to feed the roots of your garden plants. This also means that you won?t need to haul the turf to the dump and buy new soil.

Can you believe that?s what people do?

It?s true!

It happens every year and I hope to do what I can to spread the word that there is a less wasteful and less expensive way to convert lawn to garden.

how to turn lawn into a vegetable garden!

If you are wanting to use up every spare space you might have in the yard, here is a list of materials and instructions you?ll need to convert your lawn into a vegetable garden with raised garden beds.

Materials

  • or
  • A strong back (hah!)
  • Newspaper or cardboard

Make it!

  1. Map out the space that you want to convert to a raised bed garden with a or flour.
  2. Remove the turf from the area and set aside.
  3. Use the , , and strong back to cut out the shape of the bed and remove the turf from the area. Set the turf aside.
  4. Build the bed.
  5. After you build your bed, flip the turf roots side up in the base of the bed.
  6. Cover the roots with some newspaper.
  7. Top the bed off with or compost. Then, you are ready to plant!

Where To Put A Raised Garden Bed 

The most important step in building a vegetable garden is to choose the right spot. Most veggies require 8-12 hours of full sun to produce abundantly so you want to make sure your veggie garden is located in the sunniest part of your yard.

 

Being close to an outdoor water source is another consideration you will be happy you thought about once summer arrives. Hot, dry days can mean daily watering, so keeping it nearby is a must!

Large vegetable garden with mixed herbs

What Type of Lumber is Best For Raised Garden Beds? 

Do. Not. Use. Treated. Lumber.

OK, good, now you get that this is important.

Treated lumber contains chemicals that should not be consumed. Chemicals that will leach into the soil and be absorbed by the plants, making the food toxic as well. There are some companies that are now making less toxic treated lumber, but I would still stay away from it. If you choose to use wood, build an organic garden with naturally antibacterial wood, like cedar, for best results.

Large vegetable garden with herbs interspersed to deter pests.

Old bricks and other found materials also make a great raised bed. Found materials often make the most interesting beds like this from .

Planting an upcycled suitcase raised bed

How Big To Make A Raised Garden Bed 

Beds can be any width and length that fits your space and growing needs.

A good rule of thumb for width is that you should be able to reach the middle from each side. Any wider and you won?t be able to work on the bed without stepping into it (and you should really stay out of the bed to not compact roots and soil). Depth should be at least 12?-18? height to allow lots of room for roots, water, and soil organisms to share the space.

Choose the square footage based on what you want to grow for your family. One square foot of garden will grow 1 tomato plant, 1 head of broccoli, 1 cauliflower, 1 cabbage, 16 beets, or 4-9 heads of lettuce, for example.

Choose the garden bed size based on how much and what you want to grow!

How To Plan Your Raised Garden Beds 

Choosing what veggies you love will be the basis of your garden plan. Make a list of everything you want to grow, and then head to your local nursery and buy seeds or veggie starts suited for your area.

Here are some tips for how to !

When planting multiple varieties of veggies in one bed, place tall vining plants like tomatoes, peas, beans, and cucumbers at the back of the bed, supported by stakes or trellises. Next, plant large vegetables like squash and then smaller veggies like basil, peppers, and eggplant in front.

I like to tuck compact bunches of green onions, marigolds, and herbs all around the garden bed to ward off pests and efficiently use the space.

Be sure to space plants for the size they will be when they are fully grown so they have lots of room to mature. Spacing information should be available on seed packets, plant labels, and at the garden center.

Crop Rotation and Companion Planting

Crop rotation is an important factor in vegetable growing! Planting one kind of veggie year after year in the same place will reduce nutrients from the soil and encourage pests.

Changing the types of plants so that one grouping is grown only every 3 years is a good place to start.

For example:

  • Year one ? Try cabbage, broccoli, kale, and cauliflower with celery, dill, chamomile, rosemary, sage, onions, and potatoes one year.
  • Year two ? Grow beans, cucumber, peas, radishes, corn, and melons.
  • Year three ? Grow tomatoes, peppers, basil, eggplants, squash, carrots, parsley, and chives.

 is a fabulous book that covers everything you ever wanted to know about companion planting vegetables.

Seeds vs. Starts

Depending on the time of year and type of plant, you may choose to start seeds or buy vegetable starts. Have a look through the many articles in the for the basis on how to do it yourself.

In late spring and summer, starts are widely available and an easy way to get an instant vegetable garden! Varieties are limited but generally what?s available is tried and true, good for a first-year veggie gardener.

How To Maintain A Raised Garden 

Once the bed is built and planted, maintenance is the name of the game. Make an effort to check on the garden every few days. Inspect the plants and pull weeds when you see them. Check if the garden needs watering by sticking your finger all the way into the soil to check if it?s cool and wet (has enough water) or warm and dry (needs water).

Putter. Munch. Enjoy. The garden is there to feed you, body and soul.

Have fun with it!

Great Reads About Raised Garden Beds

Need more help? Grab some of these great books to help you build the structure and plant the raised bed.

For creative raised bed designs, pick up a copy of by Tara Nolan. It?s packed with practical design plans for just about every raised bed you can imagine!

Once you are ready to plant, use Niki Jabbour?s, , as your resource guide. It has 73 novel and inspiring food garden designs for any vegetable garden style that you like!

Frequently Asked Questions About Raised Garden Beds

Here are a few common questions I?ve answered about raised garden beds. I hope they help you too.

How Deep Should A Raised Garden Be?

The depth of the bed can vary, but it should be at least 6 inches deep at a minimum. This all depends on how much soil your plants need. Some plants will need around a foot of soil for their roots.

What Kind of Wood Should I Use?

You can use any type of wood that you like, as long as it isn?t treated lumber. If you can find it, redwood is naturally rot-resistant and will last the longest.

What Do I Put On the Bottom of a Raised Garden?

I put turfgrass upside down at the bottom of our raised garden bed. Others put things like leaves and dirt on the bottom layer. If you want, you can put a layer of cardboard on top and then put your rich soil on top of all that. Then, this will break down naturally, creating a nutrient-rich compost as it does.

As you can see, building a raised garden bed on wasted lawn space is a smart way to increase your bounty this year.

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Looking for projects you can do with kids out in the garden or even growing plants indoors? I?ve got you covered! With many folks suddenly homeschooling and keeping kids entertained in the home and yard, there are many enriching and fun ways to get crafty with plants. Whether you have a huge garden, a few raised beds, pots on the balcony, or just a windowsill, you can get some garden therapy and teach the next generation how to care for and love plants with these 60+ projects. 

60+ Crafty Garden Projects to do with KIDS

Getting kids into the garden has been a long-time passion of mine.

I spent 5 years volunteer at a wonderful program that brings city kids to a farm once every 2 weeks for the entire school year to learn about growing food from seed, and even cooking with it! I then had my own mini gardener and developed garden education programs for him at home, at his daycare, and at his school programs.

Many of the projects I have shared on Garden Therapy span all ages, but as a single parent of a busy kiddo, I need my littlest Master Gardener to get outside with me so I can maintain my sanity (and his!). I suppose that?s why I have created so many crafty garden projects that give me garden therapy but also appeal to kids.

In my first foray to working with children in gardens was at the UBC Farm Intergenerational Landed Learning program, which is sadly now closed.

I fondly remember the delight in the children?s eyes, the way they ran off the bus, the exhaustion at the end of the day after playing in the garden ? what life changing gift it was for us all! It?s such an amazing experience because of the growth and confidence that I got to see the kids develop over the year.

Gardening helps develop understanding and respect for nature, is good physical activity, and it?s FUN.

Before I had a child, I had plenty of family, neighbours, and friends with kids that I planted my garden for. I would invite them to explore with me. The delight that they can play in the space, but also have a taste of some garden-fresh goodies is a big draw. And I made many lifelong friends that way.

When it comes to the garden, the types of projects kids can do are endless. They can help to decorate the garden, use harvested materials in their creations, and experiment with greenery in their projects.

Kids bring a playful approach when it comes to gardening and this will definitely come through in their crafting projects.

Natural elements and crafting go together like bees and pollen! The garden offers ample room for creativity. If you don?t have all the materials you need, substitute what you can. Getting creative and adding your own spin is half the fun of garden crafting. Crafting outdoors with fresh air and plants will give you all the inspiration you need. At the very least, make sure you?re crafting by a window when indoors.

How to make dyed leaf imprint Easter eggs

While some children naturally love to get down in the dirt outside, others may be a little reluctant to get involved with you outdoors.

Garden crafting is a great way to get your young ones to connect with nature and the world around them. Just like adults, gardening positively affects mental health and has been proven to help increase focus. Lastly, it helps you create memories that will grow on (literally!) for years to come.

I have compiled this CRAZY LONG list of all the projects you could work on with children. Bookmark and share this page, as the more we seed the love of plants in the next generation, the more they will fall in love it, and ultimately protect, nature.

How to make magnets from the gorgeous photos in seed catalogs

9 Garden Paper Crafts

Cut, fold, colour, and play with these paper crafts. If you?re anything like me, paper is abundant in your house. It makes for cheap and easy crafts that kids can experiment, play, and mess up over and over again. These activities are great for all ages, with simple colouring pages for the tots and more complicated water colour painting for the older kids.

15 Crafting with Plants Projects

The bread and butter, these projects range from outdoor to indoor, big to small, and simple to complicated. There is bound to be a hit in your household with one of these fun projects. Greenery could very well be their next big hobby!

13 Backyard Garden Projects

Get outdoors with this list! If you?re looking to introduce your kids to the joys of gardening, this is an interactive way to get them to directly participate in creating garden decor. Get their green thumb started and help them create your own backyard paradise for everyone to enjoy.

8 Clay Garden Projects

Keep the little fingers busy with these clay projects. Being able to mold and play with clay can keep the kids entertained for hours. While I can?t promise they won?t get distracted with their own mini creations, they certainly will enjoy experimenting with the medium. Due to the unhurried nature of clay, this is a rather calming craft for a quiet afternoon.

8 Textile Garden Crafts

Full of colour and texture, kids are drawn to fabric, wool, and other textiles intuitively. There is something about being able to create with these scraps, odds, and ends that get them excited. While most of these are no-sew, you could also use these easy projects as a way to teach your kids how to do sew for the first time.

A hopscotch garden pathway for children

15 DIY Crafts Using Tools

These crafts are perfect for older kids as the young ones are likely to have difficulty using the tools. Plus, once power tools are involved, I suggest some close monitoring! The effort is certainly worth it with these projects, however. You?ll want these DIY craft projects covering your home!

9 Indoor Plant Crafts

If you find yourself stuck inside on a rainy day or somehow can?t convince the kiddo to head outside with you, give these indoor plant crafts a try. Some of these are simpler than others for the little ones, while some will keep your preteens busy for hours. Either way, these are a fantastic way to add a little bit of greenery indoors while spending some quality time together.

Whew! Ok, that is a LOT of crafty projects to get kids out in the garden. Please share the projects you like best and suggest any others to add to this list. Please also share this list with parents out there looking for ideas to get artistic kids excited about plants. I will also be sharing more projects you can do with kids to get them involved in gardening. Stay tuned for the next post in the series.

More Crafty Garden Ideas You will Love

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DIY stepping stones are the perfect way to add charm and function to your garden. You might be surprised at just how easy it is to make your own stepping stones.

DIY Leaf Print Stepping Stones Made of Concrete

This  is a decorative way to preserve the garden by capturing the beauty of leaves all year round as stepping stones. You don?t have to work hard for a whole weekend to do it, though! This is a simple project that is quick and fun to do, but the concrete needs some time to cure after the stones are poured.

These stepping stones are an economical way to make a personalized pathway that protects your garden, or simply add them here and there as a decorative feature.

Why Are Stepping Stones Important In A Garden?

As pretty as they are, let?s not ignore their practical importance: these concrete beauties allow a person to walk through their garden easily without worrying about hurting precious plants. You?ll be less likely to trip and crush a delicate plant if you are careful to walk only on the stepping stones.

Stepping stones are also laid to prevent the soil compaction that results from tromping through the garden beds. Walking directly on wet garden soil can destroy its structure, reducing the plant root?s ability to retrieve water and nutrients.

In short, they are both functional and beautiful. Your garden will look jazzier with a few beautiful stepping stones laid around it.

Unless your garden is all within arm?s length, stepping stones are a functional way to reduce the stress on soil structure, and they are pretty darn, well, pretty!

How To Make Garden Stepping Stones

This tutorial is pretty straightforward and simple. In fact, it?s so easy that you can even encourage your kids or friends to join in too. 

The most challenging part of this whole thing is that you?ll have to be patient. This isn?t exactly instant gratification as the leaves have to sit in the concrete for 24 hours before you can remove them and see your imprint.

Also, keep in mind that mixing up the concrete is a messy job. Yes, kiddos can help out with this craft, but this part should be done by an adult.

Other than that, it?s a really easy craft that looks stunning when it?s done.

Materials

You can find all the supplies you need to make your own stepping stones at your local home improvement shop.

  • Dry repair concrete
  • or bucket for mixing concrete
  • Leaves
  • Small rocks

Stepping Stones Directions

Here?s how to make your own leaf imprint craft into stepping stones. I broke it down into simple steps with lots of pictures too.

1. Choose the Perfect Containers

Choose containers that will make a good size for a stepping stone. For round stones, use plastic plant trays. For square or rectangular stones, use plastic food storage containers. The ones I choose had relatively straight sides, resulting in straight-sided stepping stones.

leaf imprint stepping stones project

2. Pick Out Your Leaves

Choose leaves with interesting shapes, strong veins, and defined edges. Shown here (clockwise from top) are Lady?s Mantle, Hosta, and Japanese maple leaves. The maple leaves? pointed edges held their edges less successfully than the other two (see final photos), which will influence my choice of leaves in the future.

3. Spread Vegetable Oil Inside the Containers

Use the foam brush to spread the vegetable oil around the inside of the container and on the vein side of the leaf. The oil helps the concrete to release from the mold as well as allows the leaf to easily peel off. It seems like a small step but it will save a lot of time in trying to remove the stepping stone and remove the leaf material if it is skipped.

spreading vegetable oil inside containers for DIY stepping stones

4. Mix the Concrete

Mix repair concrete (concrete without large pieces of gravel) as per the instructions on the bag using the wheelbarrow, trowel, and rubber gloves. Pour the concrete into the molds and press the leaves, vein-side down, onto the concrete. Be sure to press each leaf evenly with the flat part of your fingers so that the whole leaf imprints (not just where you touched with your fingertips!).

mixing repair concrete in a wheelbarrow

5. Weigh The Leaves Down With Rocks

Weigh the leaves down with rocks or stones and allow them to sit for 24 hours. Cure as per the instructions on the concrete package and then unmold your stepping stones and place around the garden.

Leaf Print Stepping Stones

6. Wait 24 Hours, Then Remove

I weighed the leaves down with river stones removed them from the molds after 24 hours and, voila!leaf imprint stepping stones project

More DIY Stepping Stone Ideas

I was also lucky enough to have worked with a creative friend that day, which is a good thing because concrete can get heavy! My friend made some stepping stones with leaves and foam letters we bought at the craft store. Isn?t it fun to work with others? You get so many great ideas! Her letter/leaf stepping stones turned out perfectly!

Find other things to imprint in the concrete too. Here are some of my favorite ideas that I haven?t tried yet, but want to.

  • Flowers
  • Handprints
  • Pawprints
  • School mascot

stepping stones with letters and leaves

Other Materials To Make Stepping Stones Out Of

The concrete stepping stones will last a really long time in your garden. I love working with concrete because of the ease, cost, and longevity of my projects. I actually put together an entire post about .

There are also other materials you can use that aren?t as heavy. Here are some more materials you can use to make stepping stones.

  • Wood pallets
  • Bricks

Where To Put Garden Stepping Stones

Where you decide to put your DIY stepping stones is entirely up to you. Since their purpose is to protect the soil, you?ll want to put it in the common walkway.

The best place for stepping stones is to create a walking path out of them.

If your stepping stones are entirely decorative, then you can place them around your favorite plants or bushes.

More Creative Garden Projects

Please have a look at all of the creative , , , and even to be found on this blog. Perhaps you will find something to work on with your brilliant pals. Some of my favorites include:

DIY Stepping Stones with Leaf Imprints

These DIY stepping stones are a quick project that involve just minutes of hands on creating time! You'll love seeing these pretty concrete stepping stones every time you are out in your garden.

Equipment

  • Wheelbarrow or bucket for mixing concrete

Supplies

  • 1
  • Dry repair concrete
  • Leaves Choose leaves with interesting shapes, strong veins, and defined edges.
  • Small rocks

Instructions

  • Use the foam brush to spread the vegetable oil around the inside of the container and on the vein side of the leaf.
  • Mix repair concrete (concrete without large pieces of gravel) as per the instructions on the bag using the wheelbarrow, trowel, and rubber gloves.
  • Pour the concrete into the molds and press the leaves, vein-side down, onto the concrete.
  • Weigh the leaves down with rocks or stones and allow to set for 24 hours.
  • Cure as per the instructions on the concrete package and then unmold your stepping stones and place around the garden.

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