Easy to assemble:
Solid raised bed corner with two designs to choose from, but not as easy to use as expected.
Bloom Instabrace raised the bar ceiling in bond production promises to make the design and construction of a raised bed a quick, easy and tool-free project. In reality, it is not that simple.
What is Instabrace?
There are two common reasons why people do not buy or install raised beds:
- Preformed copies may not be the right size or style
- It can be difficult to create a sturdy, well-fitting corner for a homemade raised bed
Instabrace solves both problems.
It consists of 4 powder coated steel corners that you can easily slide into a 2 inch thick wooden table of your choice. The corner pieces hold everything together and you can customize the look and size of the raised bed to suit your garden and aesthetic preferences.
Bond offers Instabrace in two versions: half sun and dragonfly.
Assemble a raised bed with Instabrace
Judging by the instructions – or rather the lack of written instructions – I expected the meeting to be a breeze. Especially when the manufacturer says, “Leave the toolbox in the shed: no bolts, nails or screws required!”
If you look at the instructions, it looks like you’re just putting the four corners where you want the raised space to be and clicking 2 inch boards between the Instabrace corners.
Select side ceiling panels
The corners are about 25 cm long and 25 cm wide. The manufacturer recommends that the total height of the sides should not exceed 12 inches and the packaging includes three options for stacking shelves to do this:
- 1 x 30 cm wide shelf
- 2 x 15 cm wide table
- 3 x 10 cm wide table
I chose two 6 “thick wooden planks for each side (cheaper option than buying 12” planks) that we bought in our Big Box hardware store. Given the height of Instabrace, I feared that the use of a 4 “banner would make the top layer unstable as only 2” would be supported by corner brackets.
To make it easier, I had the shelves cut to size in the store. You may have to pay a minimum fee for each cut, but it is easier than doing it yourself and, depending on the length, you can even make the cutting boards in your car (instead of having to tie them to the roof to get home). .
Normally rot-resistant wood such as cedar or redwood is a good choice for building raised beds. If you plan to grow food in bed, avoid using pressure-treated wood as it can flush out substances you may not want to ingest.
Raised beds can be built in almost any width and length and in various designs (eg octagonal, cross-shaped). With Instabrace you are limited to a rectangle or a rectangle.
Keep the width narrow enough to reach the center of the bed for planting, weeding and / or harvesting. The length should not exceed 3 meters, otherwise the sides will start to bend (unless you install additional equipment on the sides, but this overcomes the purpose of using Instabrace, which facilitates all work and tools) should).
Level the raised bed
The first problem I encountered was getting the floor completely. If one of the four corners is at a different height, the whole bed will roll over and the corners will not fit together properly.
The floor between the corners must also be flat (or at least not have any high stains), otherwise the tables will not stack properly and the corners will not fit together.
The easiest place to install a raised bed with Instabrace is on a flat surface, such as a concrete terrace or garage floor. If you would rather lay it on the ground, you should spend a lot of time digging, raking, compacting and making sure the soil is completely flat.
Unlike other raised bed hook options that securely attach the shelves to the corners, the Instabrace corners cannot be used to assemble the frame on a flat surface and then move it to the final position.
When done, place the four corners and start stacking tables.
Install the sides of the bed
The corners form a colon with one end on one side of the table. Make sure the tables are positioned correctly so that each side of the raised bed is the same length.
While it may seem easy, putting the boards on Instabrace is not the unit!
When you stack the planks, the corners change unless they are held firmly in place (by a man, pillars, stones, etc.). As hard as I tried, I could not get both rows of planks into the corners so the joints were tight and the corners rectangular. Eventually I gave up and brought the muscle (aka my husband) to hold things together.
Fill the raised bed
When all the tables are in place, fill the bed with a soil mixture that suits your location and plants. I used a mixture of soil, perlite and compost that worked well in other raised beds.
As I was filling the bed, I noticed that the corners began to move when dirt was pressed on the tables. The corner joints opened and the whole bed tilted. Drat. So the earth came out while I was thinking about my next step.
I ended up using screws to attach the bottom layer of the plank directly to the Instabrace corners. There is a convenient hole in each bracket that makes this easy, although it is not mentioned in the instructions or on the website.
Screwing the boards to the corner pieces kept everything in place, but it also had a disadvantage. When I filled the bed with mold, the bottom planks were held on the inside of Instabrace while the top planks were pressed on the outside. As a result, there was a gap between the top shelves at each corner.
You may not care, but it fucked me. After watching it for a few weeks, I gave in and screwed the pallets together at each corner to give the bed a neater look.
So much for “no tools required”!
What I like
There are two design options (half sun or dragonfly) that give you the flexibility to choose something that suits your design preferences. I like the simple and clean look of the braces.
The bronze-brown powder coating can withstand rain and bright sun. It does not appear to have faded and there are no signs of rust. Gravel kicked in brackets, hoses were pulled over them, and ceramic pots that hit the surface did not shatter or scratch the surface.
100% Instabrace steel is strong. it did not bend at all under the pressure of planting the mixture in the raised bed.
If you place the raised bed on a perfectly flat surface and have someone to help you put it together, Instabrace makes it relatively easy to set up the bed.
What I do not like Has
Despite Bond’s claim that Instabrace makes setting up space easy and utterly impossible, as tools are needed, I did not find it to be (unless it is based on a perfectly smooth surface).
Other than shovel, rake and Lesche grave knife (all used to level the earth) I also used:
- 4 feet high to make sure the floor and raised bed are level so the curves are smooth and the shelves fit snugly into the corner brackets
- Wireless drill to drill holes in the top boards at each corner
- wrench to screw the floorboards in the Instabrace corners (drill with screwdriver also works well)
- 1 ½ inch deck screws
Building a raised space was a two-hour exercise of frustration – not the easy task I expected.
Although the planks were cut exactly the same length for each side, I could not for the whole time join the top planks tightly together at the corners after filling the bed with plant mixture. The resulting opening did not look good so I screwed the corners together.
The manufacturer provides Instabrace with a limited lifetime warranty against defects in materials or workmanship.
Overall, I like Instabrace. It is trustworthy, trustworthy and good. Under the right conditions, it is easy to use and does not require any tools to set it up.
But “in nature” in a typical garden or yard is not as easy to use as market data suggest.
If you have the time, patience, tools and help, Instabrace can help you build a beautiful raised space. Then I definitely recommend it if you like the braces. Otherwise I would go for corner brackets that are screwed tight to the side of the bed.
Where to buy
Bloom Instabrace is sometimes in your local hardware or in major stores like WalMart, True Value Hardware or Target. Call ahead to check availability if you want to buy it on site.
Last updated 23/03/2021 / Related links / Images from the Amazon API for product ads