A bed frame for a raised pollinator garden, can be as simple as 2 x 4s on top of the ground, or even patio retaining wall blocks. The size is up to you. A bed that's at least 6 inches high provides ease of access and gives roots plenty of room to grow. Untreated lumber isn't rot-resistant, but it's a good option for edibles.
The wood to use for a raised bed is your decision. Cedar and redwood are naturally water-resistant but can be expensive and hard to find. Hemlock, fir and pine are suitable materials for raised beds but aren't very long-lasting. Pressure treated lumber is an option. Pressure treated lumber has been a controversial topic for many years. The purpose for chemical pressure treatment is to protect wood from rot, decay and wood-ingesting insects. Current treatments such as alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) are deemed low-risk by the EPA and designated safe for use around humans, pets, plants and vegetables. Creosote-treated wood is not a good option for vegetable raised beds. Compared to untreated wood, pressure treated lumber lasts longer and is available at a comparable cost. Some types are specifically treated for ground contact.
There are numerous ways to create your own pollinator garden that can fit the style of your home. In fact, they can be built using some basic materials that you may already have in your home.
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.
Soil (Three options)
2 cu ft of any mulch will do.
Tiller Planting Diagram
Shovel Potted Plants Garden Fork Trowels
Tarp (optional) Watering Hose
Step by Step:
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.
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.)
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!
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.
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.
Below is a list of pollinator-preferred plants:
|S||Sweet alyssum||Lobularia maritima||Often sold in multi-packs; easy to start from seed|
|S||Nasturtium||Tropaeolum majus||If you want them to spill over the edge, look for "trailing" or "climbing" varieties. Easy to start from seed.|
|S||Annual phlox||Phlox drummondii||Look for the Intensia series|
|M||Calendula||Calendula officinalis||Single-petal forms—instead of doubles—are more attractive to butteflies.|
|M||Sweet William||Dianthus barbatus||You can often find plants in multi-packs at the garden center.|
|M||Signet marigold||Tagetes tenufolia||An uncommon variety; easy to start from seed. Look for Lemon Gem.|
|M||Pincushion flower||Scabiosa columbaria|
|M||Zinnia||Zinnia||Look for shorter varieties, such as the Profusion series.|
|M||Borage||Borago officinalis||Very easy to start from seed|
|M||Bee balm||Monarda fistulosa||Native to many areas of the U.S.|
|M||Flowering tobacco||Nicotiana alata|
|M||Salvia||Salvia coccinea||Coral Nymph is lovely and floriferous.|
|M||Cuphea||Cuphea||Available in 4-inch pots at garden centers; I like Flamenco Samba|
|M||Blanket flower||Gaillardia pulchella||Native|
|M||Pentas||Pentas||Often sold as a houseplant, in 4-inch pots|
|M||Marguerite daisy||Argyranthemum||Look for it with the annuals, in 6- to 8-inch pots.|
|M||Gaura, whirling butterflies||Gaura lindheimeri||A perennial that blooms like an annual — almost all summer|
|T||Four-o-Clocks||Mirabilis jalapa||An old-fashioned classic|
|T||Hyssop||Agastache rupestris||Anise-scented foliage|
|T||Butterfly flower, butterfly weed||Asclepias||Choose a species that's native in your area.|
|T||Cosmos||Cosmos bipinnatus||Look for shorter, "knee-high" varieties|
|CL||Cardinal vine||Ipomoea x multifida||Easy to start from seed|
|CL||Firecracker vine||Ipomoea lobata||Easy to start from seed|
|CL||Passionflower||Passiflora caeruela||Often sold in larger pots (1 qt. or more)|