August 1, 2014

DIY Raised Garden Beds: Your Total Plan for Growing Plants Anywhere

Why Is A Raised Garden Bed Right For You?

Good question!

A raised garden bed extends the planting season, offers versatility to the gardener and helps protect your knees by bringing plants up from a level position on the ground.

Also known as garden boxes, raised garden beds are ideal for growing flowers and vegetables virtually anywhere.

Knowing how to build them, how to use them and how to maximize the rewards you get from them is critical. Luckily, it’s fairly simple to do ALL this; both to build a “do it yourself” (DIY) raised garden bed, and to maximze its growing portential.

7 Key Benefits to Raised Garden Beds / Garden Boxes

As easy as they are to position and use, raised garden beds can do a great deal for the user. The following are 7 reasons why you should consider a raised garden bed…

raised garden beds design

  1. They provide good drainage to your plants. This keeps plants healthy.
  2. They prevent the soil from compacting too much, therefore encouraging the growth of roots.
  3. Raised garden beds also keep pathway weeds from entering into the soil, therefore reducing the amount of work you need to do to keep weeds out of your garden.
  4. They allow you to add the type of soil you want, including organic soil and compost soil, without having roots enter into deeper, less healthy soil.
  5. It is easier for many people to tend to plants in a raised garden bed than on a flat surface. You can sit on the edge and weed the garden bed.
  6. The garden’s bedsides create a barrier from many pests. With added fencing along the top, you can even keep out the deer and larger animals.
  7. They are incredibly versatile. When you build raised garden beds, you do so in the size, shape and overall structure right for your space.

For many people, this type of gardening is the best possible solution because it creates a surface that is ideal for planting and makes the gardener’s job far easier. If you think garden beds like these are going to be a good fit for you, the first step is selecting a place to put your bed and understanding how to build a garden box like this. However, before you proceed any further, it’s best a get a more complete understanding of the garden box…

What Is A Raised Garden Bed, Exactly?

Before you select any materials or head out into the yard to get the soil tended, you will first need to understand what makes up a raised garden bed. Generally, the most basic box is a garden planter. It contains elevated sides that allow the box to extend a foot, two feet or more up off the ground. You can design these to be several feet high, which allows you to have more elevation from the colder ground, pests and improved height for ease of clearing.

Most raised garden beds have an open bottom. Instead of building a base or a total box with a bottom, you can build just the exterior walls. This allows your plants to reach deeper and to access the nutrient rich soil under the actual mound of soil you will fill the box with.

On the other hand, it is also possible to create a slatted bottom, which creates more structure. If you add a semi permeable cloth barrier to the base, this will allow for drainage while still allowing soil to remain in place in the box. It is most common, though, to have open bottoms with raised garden beds.

Now that you have a better idea of what a raised garden bed is, let’s get down to business….

Questions or comments? Contact us!

How To Build A Raised Garden Bed: A DIY Step-By-Step Guide

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

Now that you understand the benefits offered by using a raised garden bed, the next step is to build one.  This article provides a complete DIY (do it yourself) guide; we’ll show you exactly how to build a raised garden bed!

You can go about the process numerous ways. However, there is one thing that must be done properly in order to ensure the bed is going to perform properly for you.

Choosing The Best Spot For Your Garden Bed

One of the most important things you need to decide on before even reaching for a hammer or a saw is the location of yor raisded garden bed. The location matters because it gives the user the ability to control the overall results of using the garden bed. Here are some tips for choosing a location.

  • Ensure it gets at least eight hours of sunlight per day. If you decide to have plants that require more sunlight than this, ensure you provide a location that gives it.
  • Avoid placing the raised garden bed too close to the home. You do not want drainage problems near the foundation of your home throughout this process.
  • Choose a  position on the top of a the highest point of land if possible. You want to ensure that excess water can easily drain from under the bed and away from it. This reduces the risk of dealing with pooling water.
  • Choose a location that is flat or close to it. That will save you some digging and help you to have an even place to start overall. Remember, building on a hill works, but build with that hill on an even surface.

The right location really will make for the best raised garden beds. Take your time in choosing the most ideal place for your bed!

Building A 3 by 6 Raised Garden Bed: A Do It Yourself Guide

Supplies You’ll Need:

raised garden bed designs

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  • Lumber of your choice (consider options above) Start with 2 by 6′s for the best results.
  • A saw to cut lumber to size
  • Use 3.5 inch #10 coated deck screws to hold the wood into place. You will need a total 24 in total.
  • A level
  • A mallet or hammer
  • A screwdriver or drill
  • Square

Note: You will need more wood if you decide to add cross support beams to the garden bed. If you are using at least 2 by 4 lumber, though, in a 3 by 6 framing, it is unlikely you will need to add this to your structure.

With this information selected, you can begin the process of building a raised garden bed. It pays to take the time to choose the right size right now.

The average 3 by 6 foot bed is going to be large enough, generally, to support sprawling tomatoes. However, it is narrow enough that you won’t have a problem reaching into the middle from any of the sides.

As for height, try to build your bed at least one to two feet tall, depending on how much soil you plan to add.

Also, consider building more than one bed rather than just one large bed. By building several smaller beds, you will have no problem rotating crops to ensure the soil’s nutrients are not depleted. At the same time, you will have no problem with bowing of the sides or getting into the middle of it.

Plus, this also reduces the amount of soil you’ll need overall.

The following steps will help you to build a 3 by 6 raised garden. Make adjustments based on the specific needs you have for size.

DIY raised garden bed step 1

Step 1: Find and level the area to ensure you can build a level support system here. If you do not level the ground to start, the actual structure will be uneven, which could cause the entire thing to collapse when you add soil.

DIY raised garden bed step 2

Step 2: Remove any weeds or turf from the location. You want completely to remove any foreign material from the site, including grass. This means removing at least an inch of dirt across the top to remove grass, in most cases. Be sure it is level when complete.

DIY raised garden bed step 3

Step 3: Outline the dimensions and layout of the raised garden bed with string or a chalk line. You will want to bury about half of the first layer of lumber into the soil just enough. This allows for proper drainage but stability.

DIY raised garden bed step 4

Step 4: For added protection, you may want to lay a layer of landscape fabric down at this point. By doing this it will ensure that any grass or other remnants that develop in the soil at this point do not have the ability to grow. Ensure this material extends from the outer edge of the location you plan to build the wooden frame for total protection.

DIY raised garden bed step 5

Step 5: Cut and put together the initial framing. Cut each piece of wood to the proper size, either three feet or six feet depending on the side it will be used on. You need to put two screws into each of the corners to hold them into place. Ensure that each corner is properly squared off before moving forward with the process. Complete the process to complete the initial frame.

DIY raised garden bed step 6

Step 6: Place corner posts into place for stability. To add stability to the entire design, you’ll want to install corner posts. Cut these posts to be just as long as necessary to fit into the corners of the frame. Place the post into the corner as tightly as possible and then pound it into place. You’ll want it to enter into the dirt at least three to four inches. Then, screw the post into the sides of the frame for added support.

DIY raised garden bed step 7

Step 7: Repeat to form another layer around the top. Cut the same length boards and place on top of the existing boards to form a second layer to add height. Be sure to screw together and connect to the corner posts. This should create a nice, tight box shape.

DIY raised garden bed step 8

Step 8: Fill in and trim. The next step is to fill in the garden box with soil. Choose an organic, healthy mixture right for the type of plants you plan to put into it. This will create the ideal bed for growing. Trim off the top of the corner posts as necessary to create an even surface.

DIY raised garden bed step 9

Step 9: Add a top cap railing for support and comfort. Finally, to finish off the raised garden bed build, add a cap to the top of the railing.

To do this, miter lumber at 45 degrees. This will create the cap railing to fit on top. This addition gives you a place to sit while working in the bed, but it also gives you a way to get discourage insects and to keep plants protected when the weather cools.

Need more help? Sometimes it helps to watch some videos – we have a few you can check out here!


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