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How to Plant a Tropical Raised Garden

Ask This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook plants organic raised beds and fruit trees that will grow well in Hawaii.


  1. Locate a section of the yard with good exposure to sunlight and minimal shading. Remove any grass or other ground coverings where the raised beds will go.
  2. Use 2x6 untreated wood to make the sides for the garden bed, screwing the boards together at the corners with outdoor 3” screws. The beds can be as long as the space will permit, but they should be no wider than four feet.
  3. Fill the bottom half of the bed with compost.
  4. Fill the top half of the bed with a mixture of compost and top soil.
  5. Add wood chips to serve as mulch.
  6. Add desired plantings to the beds, digging a hole that’s twice as wide as the root ball. For tomato and pepper plants, some of the stem can be buried to help stabilize the plant. Adding marigold flowers around vegetable plants can act as a natural pest deterrent.
  7. For fruit trees, dig a hole that’s twice as wide as the root ball and about as deep directly into the soil.
  8. Add wood chips to the bottom of the hole for drainage.
  9. Tease the roots of the fruit tree and then add it to the hole. The root flare should sit just above the soil level.
  10. Backfill with the top soil/compost mixture used in the raised beds and add pelletized chicken manure as fertilizer.
  11. Use wood chips to mulch around the tree.
  12. Ensure the vegetables and fruit trees are thoroughly watered until established.