Raised-bed gardening has lots of advantages over traditional vegetable gardening on flat ground, including improving drainage in wet areas. It is also a good alternative in areas where the soil is very dense or rocky or space is at a minimum. While there is some digging involved when you first start out, raking soil into hills is a lot less back-breaking. If you can't or choose not to invest in pre-made raised-bed frames, building raised hills for growing vegetables is the way to go and can be accomplished in relatively little time with basic gardening tools.
1 Measure the area of your finished garden hill and add about 12 inches to those dimensions on all sides. Stake the outer edges of the space on all sides and run string between them.
2 Work in from the outer edge of the staked area, as the extra 12 inches provide the soil for the bed and constitute part of the space between them if you are building more than one.
3 Prepare the entire area by digging the soil down to at least 12 inches deep and removing all rocks, dead vegetation and other debris. Turn the clumps over several times and shake as much soil out of them as you can. Discard thick root sections that are free of soil.
4 Work the soil with the spade and the hoe until it is loose and fluffy, and rake smooth.
5 Remove the soil with the spade around the 12 outer inches, creating a trench, and transfer it onto the center of the bed. Aim for a height of at least 6 inches between the bottom of the trench and the finished top of the hill.
6 Repeat Step 4 until you have transferred all the soil from the trench and deposited it as evenly as possible across the top of the hill. Rake the soil from the outer edges of the hill in until it is smooth, and level gently at the edges of the hill.
7 Line the trench with a two to 3-inch-deep layer of hay or straw to control weeds and minimize compacting the soil.