Hi there, fellow gardener! It's Spring and we are all busy making plans to implement our new ideas and yard additions. One big yard project for us this spring is the construction of a new vegetable garden on a MUCH bigger scale.
We plan to build a raised garden bed from scratch, well, actually two new raised beds. And in this post, we will teach you how to do the same!
The best part is that this is one of many DIY garden projects that can be accomplished in one weekend!
In a hurry and want to save this for later? Pin it and read it when you have time!
Previously, our raised beds were made from scrap wood leftover from other projects. Have you ever constructed anything for your yard in this way? You combine all the leftovers together into one jumbled mess just to get by? Well, our scrap consisted of all different shapes, sizes, and colors of wood and the end product looked like the Frankenstein's monster of raised garden beds. (Sidenote: Did you know that Frankenstein is actually the name of the doctor, not the monster? Most people think of the monster when they hear the name).
Furthermore, the biggest issue was that none of our plants had enough growing space to produce much at all. Our pitiful, Frankenstein garden beds barely amounted to 3 square feet of growing space.
That was NOT going to cut it! The time had come for new, grown-up garden beds made out of cedar. And guess what? They were pretty easy to construct!
Last season, we liked our garden beds. This season, we LOVE them! Read on to find out what materials we used and how we constructed each new raised garden bed from scratch in time for spring planting.
How to Read Our Steps
So, now that you know our goal and why we are upgrading our vegetable garden area, we want to tell you how we went about planning, constructing, placing, and finalizing our new garden beds so you can do it too!
Each step below will guide you forward on the creation of your new bed with steps and sketches for you visual learners out there. We included a tools list and materials list with the same sizes and quantities necessary for the beds we built. If you plan to go bigger on bed size, go for it!
By the end of this post, you will learn how to create your VERY own raised garden beds in time for spring planting!
But first, the basics.
By the way, are you listening to our podcast yet? Check it out!
What Exactly is a Raised Garden Bed?
For those of you that are new to this or are not quite sure, a raised garden bed is an elevated area used to grow different vegetables or plants. The size of a raised garden bed can vary from very small to very large depending on the specific use of the bed.
Usually, each bed is constructed out of some kind of wood or rock/stone then filled with a specific kind of soil. These beds are in contrast to ground garden beds that are literally planted in the ground.
Why Might They be Useful?
A raised garden bed is useful for SO many reasons. It is elevated above the surrounding environment thus offering protection from pests or various forms of wildlife. Another bonus is that these beds are easier to reach for harvesting or maintenance. A raised garden bed has specific soil that is protected from compaction by foot traffic or machinery, and since it's elevated it can prevent weeds from the surrounding garden.
Other benefits of using a raised garden bed are to provide good drainage and create a dedicated space for specific kinds of gardening. Are you sold on the idea yet?
- 5 Natural Pest Remedies For Your Garden
- Ep. 19: Vegetable Garden part 2- How Can You Place and Build a DIY Garden Bed?
How High Should Raised Garden Beds Be Off the Ground?
A raised garden bed can be any height you want them to be and can be tailored to your specific needs. If you want taller beds for easier harvesting and maintenance, 18" to 30" can work really well. You might consider beds about 6" to 8" high for shallow-rooted plants. It really is your choice depending on what you need.
Types of Raised Beds
Types of raised garden beds include:
- Wood-raised beds (what we are showing you today!)
- Key-hole garden beds
- Mounded beds
- Rock or block raised beds
Our Raised Beds
We began by thinking about the available space in our yard. We decided to designate a specific, unused area for our two 3'x6'x15" untreated, cedar raised garden beds. Each bed is filled with a Veggie-Garden-Soil Mix from a local landscape company.
One main addition to our beds that we won't discuss in the steps below is the fence surrounding our garden. The beds will be entirely fenced off so our precocious, 6-month old puppy won't be able to dig in the garden, pull up plants, or get into any other trouble. A win-win for everyone!
If you want to hear more about how we created our fence, including the supplies we use, email us at email@example.com.
Our beds will provide 36-square feet of growing space for our new crops and the ability to sequence our crops for successive harvests throughout the growing season.
Materials and Supplies You Will Need:
To construct and build your own raised garden bed like ours, measuring 3'x6'x15", you will need:
- Untreated Cedar boards measuring 2"x6"x 12' (x3 per bed or 6 total), 4"x4"x8' (x1 per bed or 2 total)
- 1-lb deck or outdoor construction 3" hex-head screws
- Rock (1/6th yard/bed or 1/3rd yard total)
- Garden Vegetable Soil - Compost Mix (0.75 yards/bed or 1.5 yards total)
- Landscape or weed barrier cloth (3'x60' roll)
Of course, you will need to fill your new garden beds with all kinds of seeds, bulbs, veggie starts, and/or flowers after they are built! This is the best part! We want to help you fill it up and save money so we have a coupon to offer you to save $5 off your order when you spend $50 or more. Their website is organized REALLY well, which we appreciate, and you can search by garden category. Hey, every little bit helps, right?
- Power Drill - What we used! We recommend this drill. If you buy it now at Amazon you can have it shipped to you by the time you start building your new beds.
- Hex-head Drill Driver
- Drill Bit
- Regular Hammer - What we used! At Amazon!
- Skill Saw
- Carpenter Pencil - What we used! At Amazon!
- Measuring Tape
- Carpenter's Square - What we used! At Amazon!
- Sledge Hammer
Alright, time to put your DIY skills to work! Let's get started!
How to Build Your Very First Raised Garden Bed in Time for Spring Planting
(By the way, this post contains affiliate links. That means that if you click on any of the links we are promoting, we might get a small commission at no cost to you which helps us run our website and podcast).
Step 1: Planning and Gathering
You should choose a location for your garden bed that will get LOTS OF SUN, as your vegetable plants will need plenty of it. Partial shade in the morning or afternoon is ok, but NO full shade as your plants need that sun intensity for optimum growth to develop flowers and fruit.
The size of your raised garden beds will depend on how much space you have to work with, how much time you have to grow the amount of food you want to grow, and the deepest rooted crop you plan to grow (ie: carrots, onions, or potatoes are deep root-kinds of crops needing at least 12-inches soil depth).
- We built our beds in rectangles measuring 3'x6'x15", which means we won't be having any deep-rooted crops, but could still grow shorter carrot varieties that are shaped more like a globe than a normal long carrot.
- If you are starting off, we recommend you build one bed to start with. You can then gauge how much time you have to grow, harvest, and maintain this one garden bed so you know if you can handle more beds.
- Once you have your plan, next you need to start gathering all your materials, supplies, and tools. They are listed above and easily found at your local Home Depot (where we went), Lowes, or other home improvement stores
Step 2: Measure
Just to reiterate, our beds are 6-feet long, 3-feet wide, and stand 15-inches high off the ground, which is 3-levels of 2x6's tall.
- Start by measuring each 2x6 and 4x4 using your measuring tape, carpenter's pencil, and angle.
- Make your cuts as consistent as possible when following the marked lines.
- All 4x4 posts are 16-inches in length.
- Refer to the directional-drawings below.
- Be sure to set up a clear and open area to lay out the wood and have electrical outlets for your skill-saw and drill to pre-plug and place nearby so you can grab and go when you need to.
- Make sure to have your wood all laid out with 2x6's and the 4x4's grouped together. As you cut, keep them piled together so you can just pull from them as you lay them out, drill, screw, and move on to the next section. Believe me, it helps.
- Assembling your beds nearby your intended location is best so you don't have to move it too far after fully assembled. Each bed will be pretty heavy and awkward to maneuver.
Step 3: Come Together, Right Now......
- In an open area, place your first side and end down together so the side-board is snug against the end-board just inside its edge.
- You will repeat this layout with each successive board on this first level and then repeat for the next two levels.
- Refer to the directional drawings above and below.
- Where these two boards meet, place the 4x4 in the meeting corner so it is snug up against them both.
- Drill 2 pilot holes per board, one above the other and as evenly spaced in an up and down orientation. The goal is for the connecting screws to anchor each board to the 4x4 post in each corner of your new garden beds.
To make this easier, try to have two electric drills each with either the drill bit or the driver so you don't have to keep switching them out. IT'S A TIME SAVER!
- Be sure to only drill the two holes on each side first by securing with screws, and then drill the next two pilot holes on the next board so everything lines up and the boards aren't overlapping on the end or mismatched.
- Some people will even drill one pilot hole and then place the screw at a time. The idea is that you can make more adjustments after each screw is drilled to get a better fit. It's completely up to you!
CONGRATULATIONS! You just completed the first corner of your new raised garden bed! Give yourself a pat on the back!
Now keep repeating these steps for each side and end board pairing with the 4x4 posts until you create your first level.
Step 4: One Level, Two Level, Three Level GO!
- Building on the first level, set up the second level the same as you did the first.
- Move around the bed drilling a pair of pilot-holes into each board and then securing with screws.
- The 4x4 posts will be secured in place when you complete the first level and you will just keep adding the boards until completion of each level.
- Once the second and third levels of 2x6's are attached, your raised garden bed is complete. If you decide to keep going with more levels, that's GREAT! Keep repeating the steps as needed until you are finished.
- Remember to adjust the length of your 4x4 posts by the length of your bed boards. In this case, 5-inches per level to accommodate the added levels of your raised garden bed.
You are FINISHED building! YAY!
Step 5: Location Placement
What: Your raised garden bed(s) is assembled and you now need to actually place it in its new home.
How: If you are like me and couldn't assemble your bed(s) nearby their intended location (it was a REALLY rainy day, so assembly was in the garage), moving it will be a slight challenge.
- I found laying the bed on its side and then pulling it worked best. I carefully turned the bed on one of its sides and then slid and pulled it to its new location.
- You could also try placing the bed on a cart or even on a tarp then move it into place.
- Be sure to orient the bed either North-South or East-West directions. Most gardeners swear by one or the other, and it really depends on how you are going to plant your beds. Also, it depends on how they fit in their new location with foot traffic and nearness to any structures or large trees potentially shading them.
- Before placing in the final location, be sure to level the area and fill in any low spots. Then place your new raised garden bed and start to rock and shimmy it into place so it is snug to the ground and level.
- You might have to make minor adjustments in height with soil or other materials to get it level.
Take our May spring garden boot camp challenge to whip your garden into shape! Coming soon!
Step 6: Fill and Plant
What: Now that your bed(s) is built and placed in your new garden location, it's time to fill the bed with soil and start to plant your vegetables. YAY! The fun part begins.
How: It's all about the layering.
Start to think fabric/rock/fabric/soil (from the ground up).
- Once your bed is placed, you can choose to line the very bottom with landscape fabric or another kind of weaved material. This will help hold the material in the bed so it doesn't spill out the sides. Make sure to have extra cloth so it comes up a couple inches on the inside bed walls.
- Drain rock now needs to be placed directly on top of the cloth, lightly at first around all the edges to anchor the cloth and then fill the rest of the bed.
- The drain rock should be anywhere from 1-3 inches thick for a good layer so water can move through. This layer is necessary so your plants don't sit in standing water.
- Once your drain rock is at the desired thickness, then lay another layer of landscape fabric over it, just like you did with the first layer.
- Next, start placing vegetable mix soil on that fabric. Begin by placing soil in the corners and along the edges.
- Continue filling your new garden bed with soil until it's level with 1-2 inches below the top board of the garden bed due to the soil settling over time with watering and gravity.
- If the soil is too shallow, water can run right over the edge displacing soil. This will create a mess as soil could spill over the side of your bed. Also, more water will run over the edge than infiltrate down into your garden.
- Once all your plants are sown and placed, remember to your add LOTS of water as needed.
- Remember to use our coupon because we know you are busy and also want to save money. Have your order shipped to your house then you can start planting!! Click here to save $5 off your order when you spend $50 or more. Like we mentioned earlier, their website is organized REALLY well, which we appreciate, and you can search by category! Have FUN shopping!!
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After building, and planting your vegetable raised garden bed, be sure to keep your plants regularly watered, fertilized, and maintained to make a BIG difference in your success. CONGRATULATIONS! You have built your new raised garden bed! Good Job!
After reading this list, what kind of raised bed can you make? What would you plant in it? Comment below and let us know!
Thanks for reading and we hope we inspired you or educated you in some way. For more information about spring garden information, listen to our podcasts or check out our post about how to mulch so you can get your garden ready for a fantastic season ahead! Make sure to watch for next week's blog post about a common spring flower, Calla Lily's.
Let us know if you have any questions or comments anytime, we would love to help.
See you in the garden!
~ Sean and Allison
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