Building a Plant Holding Bed

A plant holding bed is a luxury that anyone who propagates plants might find very useful. (I know I will!) A plant holding bed can function as a coldframe or just as an out of the way spot set aside for plants to rest in while they grow. For me I just have too many propagated plants to continue storing them on our front porch – that’s not what a front porch is for is it?  Building the hold bed was simply the next logical choice!

How to Build a Plant Holding Bed

This isn’t rocket science but building a raised bed does require some thought. I spent some time (several minutes ;)) trying to figure out a good location that was out of the way and doesn’t utilize yard space that we are actively using. The lower portion of this slope near the garden shed seemed ideal. It isn’t close to the house but with an extra long garden hose I can get access to water. I’m also hoping to add a rain barrel to the side of my garden shed which would make an easy and free water source nearby.

The next step was actually figuring out the shape I wanted and staking it out. By staking the outline of the beds I could remove the soil and dig the bed into the slope of the hill. I left a lip on the back side of the beds  to prevent runoff water from going straight into the raised bed. I used a tiller to break up the surface of the soil, a rake, and a shovel to level the ground above the holding bed.

Then I set about building the rectangular portion of the bed. I used corner posts to screw (deck screws) in the boards which makes it easy to square off the corners. (Dimensions 4’x8′) The corner posts are measured to the height of two board widths to make a nice fit (approx. 11 inches).

After the first level of the rectangular center bed was built I added the triangles on either side. The back board is 4 ft. long which I attached using another corner piece. The long hypotenuse side (geometry was a very useful class!) was measured and cut using 45 degree angles on the ends.

Here is the location after the first portion of the bed was built.

Once the bottom level was complete it was easy to measure and cut the remaining board for the top layer.

The next step will be to add a cover to it to prevent our resident wildlife population from enjoying the plants more than I do! I have two thoughts on that:

  1. Use a PVC pipe frame with a plastic mesh over it or 
  2. Build a wood frame with a mesh. 

The wood would look nicer but PVC is be light weight and cheap. And I really like cheap! The wood also gives me added support if I choose to lay a window over the bed to covert it into a cold frame.

Here’s where you can see how it fits in with the landscape. The future bed will house many of our strawberry plants that have overtaken the vegetable garden. That bed will be almost 27 feet long and will help to create a terraced hillside look. In between the two beds is a pathway wide enough for the riding mower to journey through.

8 thoughts on “Building a Plant Holding Bed”

  1. Ah Grumpy! I hadn't thought of that! Maybe I'll rig up the garden shed with one – perfect after a long hot day of working in the garden.

    Racquel – thanks!

  2. Holding beds are terrific, though mine needs renovating; I sort of let the wildflowers take over in it! So now it's a wildflower holding ecosystem. One of my best friends has a huge holding area, and she literally keeps things there for years at a time before finding the right home for them. She's an inspiration.

  3. Great how-to, Dave! I've always had what I call my "Orphan Garden" which is where bad plants go until they can either learn how to behave or die. But I did a lot of trialing of plants this year, so new raised beds were built for this purpose. We've now got a new project going and I'm in the process of moving plants from this area. They're going in the empty areas of the veggie garden for now, until next spring, when they'll have a new location. Guess why I'm moving the plants? Guess what I'm making room for? 🙂

  4. What a terrific post, Dave! I'm so impressed that you not only built that gloriously big bed (though it won't be nearly big enough for all of *your* propagation projects), but that you also put so much thought into how it's going to fit in as you develop the rest of that area. Good job!

  5. SG,

    Sometimes I really wish I could slow myself down! That will come very soon though when my wife goes back to work (maternity leave) and I will have a little less time to play in the yard – or at least with the power equipment!


    I think I have a few beds that are bordering on the wildflower ecosystem myself! I haven't been weeding as much as needed this year with the heat. A holding bed definitely gives you options!


    I've got a good guess on your next project! Might it be a new garden shed or greenhouse? Have fun with it! If you need any advice I've learned a lot from building mine.


    Your Perennial Care Manual actually gave me the idea! I've been going through it lately. There is a wealth of great information in there. Hopefully the hold beds will last a little while. I've had a tendency to shove stuff into place after I get them propagated and really need to slow down and plan a good location before planting. The beds should buy me some time to think…I think!

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