Settling Raised Bed Soil

I’m filling a new raspberry raised bed with soil mix. Friend says I should walk on the soil to settle it so it sinks less. I’ve always heard that’s a big NO, just water it to settle.

Ideas Please?

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What I’d do is just water it. The soil will settle more after that.

You could walk on it. If dry that won’t settle it as much as watering . If wet it might settle it more.

Damage could come if walking on it wet and the soil is compacted too much. This is mainly an issue with clay type mixes. With a coarse mix even walking on it wet shouldn’t compact it too much.

You could walk on it dry as you add the mix. Then water. It will still settle some after that. My planting holes settle an inch or two after watering with a loose fill.


@fruitnut Many thanks. Trying to balance raspberry love of organic matter and low ph vs high pH of bagged compost around here and high pH well water that I irrigate with.


How many inches of space between the top of the raised bed structure and the top of the soil do you intend? Keeping a couple of inches of space makes it easier to hoe or tend the soil without it slopping over the top of the structure.

When filling beds, I dump in 6 inches of so of soil, then compress that layer by placing a 2x3 foot board down and walking around on the board and shifting the board around. If the soil is dry, I may apply water to the layer after tamping with the board. Apply layers until you have the top spacing you want. This method reduces settling.

With caneberries, you can add an inch or two of soil per year without affecting the ability of new canes to emerge from the soil.


I’ll keep enough space for mulch too.

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When you buy a bag of soil it’s mostly compacted, so the size it takes up in the bag is about what volume it will eventually take up in the bed. It fluffs up with air pockets when you empty the bag and spread it.

If you haven’t planted anything I usually tamp it down pretty good then water as well. I loosen the soil to transplant then hand compress around the new plant.

I find I still add a bag of compost each year to fill the volume lost from further compaction and return some nutrients.

That just what I do.

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