Ferrocement raised beds really are great!

I’ve just done another one at the Story Ark, out the front this time. About 7 metres long, one-sided as it is against the front of the Ark. Framework was minimalist, and one length of 13mm mesh chickenwire folded over it lengthwise, and laced with thin (.7 or somm) tie wire. As per the book fantastic ferrocement of course! Oh and the ends of the framework I stapled onto the wood of the Ark, and plastered right up to the wood. I will line the Ark side of the bed with black plastic to prevent the soil from rotting the wood.

It only took two mixer-loads to plaster it – about 40kg of cement (or two 25kg bags at most), and one coat (round-ended trowel finish) was sufficient. done in an afternoon (by yours truly alone). Then lightly sanded with about 60 grit and stained a couple of days later (can do it same day – it works apparently by chemical reaction with uncured plaster, at least not fully cured) with garden-store-standard iron sulphate, strong solution put on with a rag, two applications to make sure. Apart from keeping under cover for a few days to maximise plaster curing, that’s it!

I grubbed a shallow (maybe 50mm) trench for the framework to discourage the invasive kikuyu grass we have here courtesy of a mad council decades ago…

new raised bed in front of ark


This finish goes darker when wet, as you see in the photo. I suppose I used three quarters of a kilo of the iron sulphate – about NZ $5 depending on the garden store you go to.

The mega-fibre II I used to get for plaster isnt available here now, and I havent sourced the Sika fibre here yet, so I improvised: I chopped up some old polypropylene rope into about 30mm lengths, rubbed it a bit to loosen all the fibres, and added it to the mix. It was coarser than the other but plastered fine, and did the job of helping the thick coat not to sag.

I thoroughly recommend ferrocement for serious raised beds. It’s probably about as quick as wood for the same height, or at least if you count the lifetime cost of wood, which rots in proportion to your success in filling it with a fertile soil bursting with microorganisms! Of course, you can make a wooden one then line it with plastic, but why go there when there’s ferro, which will outlast all wooden outdoor structures…


5 thoughts on “Ferrocement raised beds really are great!

  1. Hi
    I love the projects on your website, so creative and artistic!
    I want to make 2 raised beds like this in my garden in the UK that will adjoin a mortared wall. I plan to do them about this height, would you recommend foundations? I will be using a steel mesh frame under the chicken wire, that I will be removing the bottom crossbars from to make spikes I can push into the ground and will also attach each end to the wall. I plan to infill it with soil. Any advice you can offer me would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you.

    • Hi – that should work ..best if the ground is fairly level as the square mesh can’t flex as well as the bent rebars.. or you could dig a footing trench to level it up. it doesn’t take too much to dig footings and put in a bit of extra plaster-or concrete and any rubble you have – before backfilling (after the plastering).
      if you can, masonry drill a hole or two into your existing wall at each end and hammer a bit of rebar in with some cement, and tie it to your raised bed framework.
      oh and if it’s wet there and the ground tends to hold water, I’d put a few say 30mm diameter pipes through the finished armature at ground level for drainage. You can drill holes through the finished wall later but that’s a lot harder.

      • Thank you so much for the advice and taking the time to reply, it’s very much appreciated 🙂

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