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Double Reach Raised Bed 5 or 6ft Wide?

Ed Johnson

Joined: Jan 10, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Durham region - Ontario, Canada - Zone 5
I am building a raised bed, out of hemlock, ~15 inch high. I am 6'3" so I have a bit of reach. Initially I wanted to go 6ft wide, now I am thinking 5ft.

Thoughts or experiences please
Tyler Ludens

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
What I do to measure is crouch down, put a rock by my feet, and reach out to a comfortable distance, put a stick or rock there, go around to the other side, crouch down where I can comfortably reach my center marker, and mark the placement of my feet. That's the width of my beds. I tend to err on the side of a little narrower rather than too wide, and make my paths wider than I used to, because I used to make gardens with beds so wide, and paths so narrow, I could not manage them easily.

Idle dreamer

Alex Ames

Joined: Feb 24, 2012
Posts: 322
I would recommend 20" paths and if the options I have are 5 or 6 feet I would choose 5 feet in width. Tyler's method is
pretty precise and hard to argue with and custom fits it for you. As the plants mature they narrow whatever path you put
in and being able to get in and out without trampling on stuff will lead you to be out there moving in and out more often.
Ed Johnson

Joined: Jan 10, 2011
Posts: 76
Location: Durham region - Ontario, Canada - Zone 5
Thanks for the replies. Tyler, I did just that. 5ft makes the reach much easier.
Eric Thompson

Joined: Apr 23, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Bothell, WA - USA
I'm also 6'3" and mostly go with 4'

I put one in at 6' and added stepping stoned in the middle which works ok for some low, single harvest things like carrots
Alison Thomas

Joined: Jul 22, 2009
Posts: 933
Location: France
I have beds that are 1.2m wide (I'd guess that's more 6' than 5') because I have some set length cloches that are 1.2m long BUT sometimes the beds are a bit wide for me and I have to have a 'hand-leaning' board in the middle to reach some things (I'm only 5'5").

It's good advice about the paths. The temptation is to make them small so that you lose less room but IMHO it's a false economy. You end up working the beds from a sideways position which is less optimal than facing the bed I reckon. Plus paths are great places to put produce as you're picking it! My paths are as wide as my kneeling down leg-span.
Alex Brands

Joined: Jul 25, 2011
Posts: 51
6 feet is fine if there is something you can put in the middle that you don't need to reach very often. Insectary plants would be good there.
Alison Thomas

Joined: Jul 22, 2009
Posts: 933
Location: France
alexinlehighvalley Hatfield wrote:6 feet is fine if there is something you can put in the middle that you don't need to reach very often. Insectary plants would be good there.

Now there's a good idea Thanks
David Miller

Joined: Sep 13, 2011
Posts: 215
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
I've built quite a few beds that wind up being too large, one solution I've found is to put a perennial dutch white clover in a 1-2 foot path right down the middle, it makes a great chop and drop mulch plus has been shown to share nitrogen with its neighbors. I have quite a few beds where this has become a secondary path and now I'm comsidering turning it into the permenant path so that I can extend out even further. Long story long, just another idea.
Brenda Groth

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
depends on what is in the center of the bed..If you are doing a food forest or edible forest type of bed, then if the center is a fruit tree or shrub, then you don't have to do a lot where the trunk is..and if you are putting perennials in the bed they won't require as much attention ..esp once they are established..

I have some 8' circles with a fruit tree in the center, yeah it is difficult to reach the center but really I dont' have to much. The center is mostly planted with oregano, thyme, french tarragon, comfrey, chives and walking onions..I do have to pull some weeds but as long as the mulch is kept replenished (which I admit I'm very bad at keeping that done as I have very little mulching material avail and truck is dead)..then there aren't very many weeds.

some of my beds are also half filled with Jerusalem Artichokes, which don't even require weeding, so they are self sufficient, the areas beside them are used for annuals and fruit trees.

one of my beds is quite wide and it is mostly asparagus under dwarf fruit trees, it also contains rhubarb, bearded iris, onions, and a few annual vegetables..sometimes it is a tad difficult to reach the weeds but if I step on a board between the asparagus plants generally I don't do much damage.

some of my borders are probably 20 ' wide, and I do admit I have to walk into those a couple times a year..carefully


Bloom where you are planted.
Ben Stallings

Joined: Mar 26, 2012
Posts: 113
Location: Emporia, KS
Regarding reach... it depends how high your beds are raised. 6' beds would be fine at waist height, but at ground level you'd be unstable reaching that far. Here's my analysis of the question (along the way to other things):
subject: Double Reach Raised Bed 5 or 6ft Wide?
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