And it only took us 9 years to get around to it!
Well, I’m sure it will be worth the wait…
So why am I so excited about having raised garden beds? There are a couple reasons:
First, I was tired of always fighting with weeds…weeds that have been in my soil for decades and that I had absolutely no chance of eradicating, unless I was willing to kill my entire garden.
Second, I get to start with a good foot and a half of premium garden soil. Which is a lot nicer that the rocks and fast-draining soil that I usually work with here in the valley.
Third, raised beds are a lot easier to work with. No more crawling around on my hands and knees, and no more trying to bend all the way to the ground. Nope, now that my beds are off the ground, there will be none of that!
Now let me tell you the down side to raised beds: you have to make them.
Yep, there’s a reason it took me 9 years to get around to this project.
Sure, they cost some money too, but the overall price wasn’t actually that bad. Especially since I plan to grow a ton of food, which should help cover the cost.
But the main barrier for me (and Claire) was always the time and effort involved with constructing and filling the beds.
And now that the project is complete, let me tell you: it was a lot of work!
We ended up making 6 beds (4 were L-shaped, 2 were rectangles) and moving 9 yards of dirt (which is just under 11,000 lbs!).
And surprisingly enough, when Monday morning came around, I didn’t feel too bad…
I had a few sore muscles, but nothing that I would consider pain.
So, if you decide to take on a project like this, how can you avoid having a back injury?
Here are 5 tips that will help you:
1. Recruit your friends and family.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but I was originally planning on just making the beds myself. But when some of our friends and my wife’s parents chipped in, things went about 10x faster. Plus it was more fun! This is where food and alcohol are your friends. Most people are happy to help you out, especially with the promise of a nice meal and their beverages of choice 🙂
2. Use power tools
Our friends also just happen to be in the construction field (as are my wife’s parents), so they showed up with power saws and a nail gun. Using these tools, 2 of us made all 6 beds in only 2-3 hours. By myself and without the tools, it probably would’ve taken all weekend!
3. Borrow a dump truck or dump trailer
Again, I’m lucky that I have a contractor in the family (my father-in-law), and he just happens to own a dump truck. This allowed me to get loads of 3 yards of dirt at a time. And when I didn’t have to dump the loads to get more dirt, I could just tip the dump up and pull the dirt into the wheelbarrows, which was much easier than shoveling.
4. Be ambidextrous when you shovel
There was still a fair amount of shoveling involved, even with the dump truck. My best advice here is to switch back a forth from shoveling with your dominant side to shoveling with your non-dominant side. It’s a bit tricky at first, but it lets your muscles avoid being overworked. Plus it’s a good brain exercise!
5. Mix up your jobs and take breaks
Whenever you start a project like this, it’s always tempting to work as hard as you can and just get it done. However, you’re body won’t appreciate this. Instead of working too hard, try rotating in some lighter tasks, instead of just shoveling dirt for 2 hours straight. For instance, we were also cleaning out some flower beds, so I would rake for a little while or gather leaves for the bin.
So there you have it, 5 ways you can enjoy garden beds without injuring your back!
P.S. If you’re currently struggling with back pain and aren’t able to do some of the activities that your really enjoy doing (like gardening and working in the yard), I have good news for you: I’ll be hosting another “Low Back Pain & Sciatica Workshop” at the clinic later this month.
P.P.S. Right now, I have the date set for Saturday, April 23rd from 10-11 a.m. So if you’d like to learn more about the cause of your back pain, as well as what successful treatment looks like, you’ll want to be sure to attend this workshop. Just give us a call at 509.892.5442 to reserve your spot. We’ll be limiting this workshop to the first 20 people, so give us a call today!
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