After building easy DIY raised garden beds comes the fun part of personalizing them. Raised bed landscaping can help deter weeds and give your garden a personal touch.
Plus the prettier your garden is, the more likely you’ll want to spend time out there tending to your veggies.
Around my raised beds, I added a river rock border and a paver stone path surrounded by ground cover and mulch. These are my favorite raised bed landscaping ideas to get you started.
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- Tape measure
- River rocks
- Paver sand
- Ground cover plants (sedum tiles and Scotch Moss work well)
- Weed barrier
- Pea gravel
1. Lay a River Rock Border
Every river rock is different, which makes river rock a forgiving material when used as a border. You don’t have to be perfect. You can lay the rocks down however you like and your garden will look pretty.
Stake the string in place to mark where you want your river rocks to be, using the tape measure as needed. Then lay out your rocks one by one, making sure each rock touches the next rock in the border.
I went with a square shape around my garden beds. Once I measured where the square should be, it was easy to place the rocks roughly around the edges.
If you want to be picky about it, you can choose one side of your border to have the flatter side of the rock, so you get a clean edge. But whether you’re picky or not, your border is going to look great!
2. Install a Paver Stone Pathway
Next choose your pathway material. I went with square pavers. You could use flagstone or nothing at all if you want to make it easy. I like flagstone since it’s more forgiving like river rock. But I didn’t consider that when I chose pavers.
Pavers require precision.
If you go with pavers, start by laying them out approximately where you’d like them to go. Test out how far you want your pavers spaced out by walking across them and adjusting until the spacing feels right.
Mine are 12 inches apart. This is a nice distance for casually walking across the garden at a reasonable pace. For days when I’m taking long strides in a hurry, the pavers are a tad close. Figure out what works for you.
You’ll also need to consider how the pavers will fit within your space. Maybe you wanted them 14 inches apart, but they’ll fit better 11 inches apart, for instance.
Dig Your Paver Trench
Once you’ve figured out where you’d like your pavers to go, stake your string on each side of your future paver path. Set the pavers to the side and start digging a trench along your defined path.
The first time I did this, I dug the trench deep enough for my pavers to be flush with the ground. My pavers spent most of the following winter under mud and rainwater, and I got to redo them the next spring. Oops. The second time around, I kept the trench at a depth that would put the pavers an inch above ground.
You’ll also be adding paver sand under the pavers and pea gravel or mulch around the pavers, so factor that into your depth. If your pavers are two inches tall, you can dig your trench 1.5 inches deep and add half an inch of paver sand.
Lay Your Pavers
After you dig your trench to your preferred depth, pour your paver sand into your trench, spread it out and start adding your pavers one by one. The paver sand makes it much easier to level the pavers, and it helps keep them from sinking or moving too much over time.
For each paver, you want to make sure it’s square with your path, square with the pavers on both sides and level with the nearby pavers. This is why I should have used flagstones.
You can keep lifting your paver and adding or removing sand until it’s right. When all else fails, use your mallet to pound the paver into place.
Once the path is in place, you can add some of the dirt you removed back into your trench between the pavers.
3. Plant Border Succulents and Ground Cover
Now we plant. Who says all of the plants need to be inside your raised beds? There are lots of pretty ground covers that can beautify the area around your garden beds.
You can tear each sedum tile into several smaller five-inch pieces and place them around your beds. The pieces will grow and spread. Just check that each piece you cut has a few different varieties of sedums for interest.
I planted the sedums around my path. They have been rained on, snowed on and exposed to 100-degree sun. They are completely neglected in my yard but they still thrive and grow. I heart them for it.
You could also try Scotch Moss. I used this ground cover to continue my pathway up the hill past my raised beds, from where the pavers ended. The moss poofs up and spreads to make little squishy mounds…fun to walk on! I’ve lost a couple Scotch Moss plants because they need a little more water when getting established. In other words, neglecting them was about 80% effective, so I approve of their durability.
In the spots where the moss plants died, I replaced them with more sedum. And I try to remember now to water the moss periodically in the summer. Scotch Moss flowers in late spring, and don’t you love the chartreuse color?
4. Surround Your Beds With Pea Gravel
It’s time to fill in the area around your beds. If you have weeds and grass, cut them back a little and cover them with cardboard and weed barrier before placing your pea gravel. I added weed barrier and about an inch of pea gravel to go inside my river rock border, all around the beds, pavers and ground cover.
The idea is to keep the weeds away from your raised beds. You will still probably get a few weeds in the pea gravel, but not many. To stop the weeds, don’t pull them—they tend to just grow right back. Instead, move the pea gravel to the side, lay a piece of cardboard over the weed, then replace the pea gravel and let the cardboard choke out the weed.
5. Add Pretty Mulch
Finally, fill in the area around the outside of your beds with a pretty mulch. Now your work is done and everything looks polished!
I added black mulch around the rest of my paver path and Scotch Moss. Mulch is gorgeous, and call me crazy but I love how it smells.
Raised Bed Landscaping
You could also add climbing plants, garden accessories, an arbor, or even a whimsical gnome because YOLO.
Find more ideas for your garden:
- How to build raised beds
- Where to order plants and seeds online
- The easiest foods to grow in your garden