A raised bed offers an interesting variety for gardens and is equally suitable for the cultivation of useful and ornamental plants. Worked-in compost and moist leaves ensure a high level of heat development inside the hill bed, which in turn ensures good growth and high harvest yields. The height of the bed ensures back-friendly work, which also makes gardening easier for older people. Learn how to create a hill bed in this guide.

The right location

Choose a suitable spot that has a north-south orientation and where there is enough space to build the bed. Normally, the hill beds are at least 1.80 meters long and 80 centimeters wide, but you can enlarge or reduce them as you wish. Locations in the shade or semi-shade are unsuitable for construction, as the plants can only develop insufficiently there. Avoid being in close proximity to tall trees, as falling branches and roots can damage the hill bed.

preparations and materials

Mark out the area of ​​the bed using a stretched cord. This makes it easier for you to maintain shape and position while digging. You should get the following materials before you start gardening:

  • spade
  • Laub
  • Twigs and chopped branches
  • Grasschnitt
  • larger quantities of humus-rich substrate
  • alternatively semi-mature compost
  • tight wire mesh

If necessary and according to taste, you can also get reading stones to delimit the hill bed. Properly installed, these also prevent the heaped-up earth from slipping off prematurely and often serve as a habitat for lizards. Ideally, start construction in the autumn months so that you can plant the bed directly in the coming spring. In the meantime, the processed material will settle and the bed will lose some height.

Building instructions – Create hill bed

A raised bed consists of several layers, with the bottom layers also serving as drainage and protection from voles. The ground is excavated to a depth of about 30 centimeters on the previously marked area. The close-meshed wire mesh should first be laid out over the entire length and width.

1st and 2nd layer

Directly above the vole barrier follows a layer of brushwood and chopped branches. This facilitates rapid water drainage and allows air to circulate within the raised bed. For the next layer you should use straw or grass clippings. As these materials decompose, they generate heat and not only protect plants from frost damage, but also provide nutrients to deep-rooted plants. Both layers should have a total height of about 25 – 30 centimeters.

3rd and 4th layer

Put about 10 centimeters of normal garden soil over the layers that have been laid. Then use the prepared, damp leaves and lay them out about 20 centimeters thick.

5th layer

There are several options available to you in this section. For example, you can sift the excavated soil and enrich 2/3 with humus. Or you lay this layer, with a height of 15 – 20 centimetres, exclusively with half-ripe compost. Alternatively, stable manure has proven itself here.

6th layer

The last 20 centimeters of the hill bed should only consist of humus-rich garden soil.

Tip: Avoid climbing the bed too steeply. The flatter the layers merge into one another, the better the distribution of the irrigation water and the avoidance of the structure sinking too quickly.

Due to the incorporation of the leaves and the compost, there is a temperature difference of up to 8°C within the hill bed. Attach a structure made of stones or wood to the base of the bed. This gives the piled layers more stability and prevents the substrate from slipping off.


The hill bed is not only suitable for salads and vegetables, you can also plant ornamental shrubs and strawberry plants on the higher bed without any problems. Planting is not done in rows, but twisted around. Deep-rooted plants, such as potatoes and chicory, should be planted on the outer edge of the hill bed. With their roots, they additionally strengthen the structure and offer stability and protection even in heavy rain.

The choice of your mixed culture is limited in the first two years. Because of the rotting compost and leaves, the substrate has large amounts of nitrate. You should therefore avoid plants that tend to store this substance. Too much of it is harmful to humans and after consumption it is converted into nitrite by your own body. Not only small children and infants are at risk, because the foreign substance slows down the oxygen transport in the blood. You should therefore avoid the following types of vegetables and lettuce in the first few years:

  • Lamb’s lettuce
  • Beetroot
  • Rocket
  • Spinach
  • Mangold
  • fennel
  • cress
  • lettuce

Rhubarb also stores large amounts of nitrate, but you can only harvest the plant two to three years after planting. Cultivation in the first year on the hill bed is therefore unproblematic. Harmless are also heavily consuming varieties such as beans, broccoli, pumpkin, leeks, peppers, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, onions, radishes, sweet corn, tomatoes and eggplants. The cultivation of strawberries is only recommended from the 3rd year.

Large-growing plants should always be planted in such a way that their height and space requirement cannot affect other plants. Ideally, plant corn and potatoes on the northern edge of the hill bed, because this way lettuce and co. will get enough sun. Plants with a bushy growth should also be placed there.

Use as an ornamental bed

If you only use the bed for the cultivation of ornamental plants and shrubs, the high nitrate content hardly plays a major role. Only plants that need a poor substrate or a shady location are unsuitable for hill beds. Here, too, make sure you have a varied mixed culture and, for example, combine types of flowers that bloom at different times and always make your raised bed shine in a different color. Cover the bottom edge of the raised bed with small ornamental shrubs so that the soil is strengthened by the roots.

With evergreen plants you have a distinctive eye-catcher in your own garden even in winter. When cultivating cherry laurel, lavender heather, thuja and Co., however, note that the hill bed should be covered with mulch or foil in the cold season.

Tip: Plant marigolds in different places, because these plants prevent nematodes from settling in the substrate.


The construction of a hill bed takes sweaty hours. But even after production, you should never leave this raised bed version to its own devices. Mulch regularly from the second spring, this loosens the soil and prevents the substrate from drying out too quickly.

fertilizing and watering

Over the years, the rotting material inside the mound bed progressively settles and sinks to the bottom. You can top up the bed with fresh, humus-rich soil in the spring, but you should do without the additional supply of nutrients. Artificial fertilizer – in any form – has no place on a hill bed.

Lettuce and vegetable crops can produce three times the yield on a raised bed compared to traditional outdoor cultivation. The substrate is able to store a certain amount of moisture, but you should check it regularly and top up with rainwater if necessary. Distribute the amount of water evenly and slowly so that the top layers of the mound bed are not washed away. During construction, make sure there is a slight incline and create an irrigation channel at the top. This also ensures better distribution of the water.


Cover the mound bed with a thick layer of humus or grass clippings in winter. This protects the entire structure from washing away the soil and at the same time protects the roots of perennial plants from any frost damage. If this material is not available in sufficient quantities, you can also cover the hill bed with a special, perforated film.


As with all cultivation methods, you must regularly remove weeds and sedentary plants from the hill bed. Combine this step with the simultaneous mulching of the soil.

After about 6-7 years, the usability of the hill bed is exhausted, the height has decreased noticeably and the processed brushwood, leaves and compost have completely decomposed. Of course you can still use the bed as such, but the plants need additional fertilizer and the advantage of the high harvest yield is no longer available.

Control pests and diseases

The close-meshed fence, which forms the foundation of the hill bed, prevents the entry of moles, rats and voles. Snail damage is also limited, but the plants are by no means immune to other annoying pests such as aphids and spider mites. However, strong and healthy plants are usually able to defend themselves against most fungal pathogens and harmful insects. Ideally, you should value a mixed culture and keep a certain minimum distance between the individual plants.

Insecticides and fungicides are often the only way for many gardeners to successfully defend against powdery mildew and lice. However, only resort to these chemical agents if all other measures are unsuccessful. Baking powder, for example, has proven effective against ants, and you can fight aphids with a decoction of stinging nettles or with the natural predators. Plants affected by powdery mildew must be cut out or removed completely. The following applies to useful plants: Any foreign substance that is applied can get into the human organism and be harmful to health there.

You can also plant certain types of plants as a preventive measure against a large number of pests in the hill bed. Nasturtium, savory, thyme and dill have proven effective against cabbage whites and lice. Daisies keep ants away and horseradish is effective against Colorado potato beetles. If you often suffer from aphid infestations, you can use a combination of savory and lavender.

Mound beds are easy to implement and have proven themselves for many years with ambitious hobby gardeners. If your garden has the necessary sunny location, nothing stands in the way of building this raised bed variant. The care required is low and the warmth and the humus-rich soil guarantee lush plant growth.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *