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How to Build Hugelkultur Garden Beds

Are you thinking this year has to be an epic gardening year?  Yeah, me too!  That’s why we extended our growing area.  The soil isn’t great, and that’s why we had to build hugelkultur garden beds.

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What’s a Hugelkultur

Hugelkultur is a German word that means hill/mound culture.  This is a popular gardening technique loved by permacultualrist.  The idea is to take a decomposing matter, place in the bottom of your raised bed and then top off with topsoil.  As the matter decays, it feeds the soil, thereby making your soil healthier and in turn the plants growing in that soil will be healthier!

How does that sound?  When my husband took the midwest permaculture class he came back with several valuable gardening techniques.  Hugelkultur is by far my favorite!

Items to Use in a Hugelkultur Bed:

  • wood – of all sizes…. limbs, sticks, branches and stumps.
  • dead leaves
  • hay

Depending on the depth of your garden bed, fill in several inches to several feet of the decaying matter.  Add soil to the top several inches, enough to grow food in.

Benefits of Hugelkultur Gardening

  1. Filling in the bottom part of a raised bed with decaying matter will save some money on topsoil.  That’s a win!
  2. You’ll be fertilizing your soil as the material underneath decomposes.
  3. Improves water retention.
  4. This style of gardening is easy to maintain.  Build it and plant.

A personal story with hugelkultur.  When we moved to this farm 5 years ago, I wanted herbs and flowers everywhere.  I planted Echinacea several places and every year it was a flop.  I finally tried planting them in our huge huglekultur bed and they flourished!

How to Build a Hugelkultur Garden Bed

My husband built these square frames for my raised beds.  We just stacked two frames on top of each other.  He used deck screws in each corner and used untreated wood.  Untreated wood is necessary because you don’t want the chemicals from chemical treated wood leaching into your food.

Next, fill in the bottom with sticks, limbs or whatever decaying material you’re using.

Then we added bags of topsoil to the top half of the bed.  If you live in an area where good topsoil can be bought by the truckload that’s the way to go!  Unfortunately, we do not have a good source of topsoil by the truckload.

And now you’re ready to plant!  I’m companion/interplanting in these beds.  Read more about interplanting here!

Watch how we filled this bed on our video below!

Tools You May Need:

Hand Trowel

Sun Hat


I’d love to hear from you.  Let me know in the comments if you’ll be building a hugelkultur garden bed!

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