How to DIY a Raised Garden Bed and Its Benefits
A raised garden bed or simply “raised bed” is a large planting container that sits above ground and is filled with soil and plants. It is a box with no bottom or top. A frame that is placed in a sunny spot and filled with good quality soil.
Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening
01. Less Tilling
Raised garden beds require less tilling than traditional, in-ground beds.
Instead of digging up a compacted bed year after year, many gardeners add compost and other soil amendments to the top of their elevated beds in fall, then let nature do the rest over the dormant season. This is a good practice for both soil and plants.
02. Easier on Your Back
03. Nice to look at
In the backyard or the front, a series of raised planters surrounded by paths looks neat and well-tended all year round.
04. Controls Weeds and Keeps out Critters
05. Improves drainage
06. Offers a head start on the growing season
DIY Raised garden bed plans
Building your own elevated garden boxes is a straightforward project for anyone with access to materials, along with the space and skill to assemble the parts. Here are some things to consider before you build your own raised beds.
Best wood choices
Cedar is one of the most rot resistant woods available. also lightweight enough for one person to handle.
Black locust and redwood are other options to consider. If these are too expensive in your area, consider using fir or spruce, with the understanding that they will not last as long.
You can also ask your local lumberyard what they recommend.
Recycled boards repurposed from other projects are another lower cost option, as long as they are not treated. Avoid pressure treated wood and pressure treated lumber.
To stain or not to stain
How Tall Should the Bed Be?
There seems to be different schools of thoughts when it comes to the appropriate or right height for raised garden beds.
The ideal height for a raised bed is a matter of preference for gardeners. Considerations include the cost of raised beds, the condition of the soil beneath the bed, soil depth requirements for the intended crop, and especially important to mature gardeners, how much bending over you want to do.
You can build the bed to any desired height up to 36″. The most common height is 11″, which is the height of two stacked 2″ x 6″ boards. If you have good soil beneath the bed, the roots will go down deeper as needed to access more soil and nutrients, so you can even have beds that are only 6″ high.
If you want a taller bed, remember that as you go taller, the weight of the added soil will add pressure to the sides, and will bow them outward. This is easily prevented by including cross-supports. We recommend using cross-supports in any beds which are taller than 18″, or longer than 6′.
It is also important to consider the soil depth requirements for the roots of the vegetables you want to plant. Depending on the soil conditions beneath your bed, you may want to build the sides of your bed higher for certain crops.
How Wide and Long Should the DIY Raised Garden Bed Be?
I like a raised bed width between 2-4 feet. The width should not be wider than 4′ across. This is because it is easy to reach the center of the bed from either side.
It is important to keep the width this narrow to avoid having to step on the bed since this would compress the soil.
Tools and Materials for a DIY raised garden bed plans
Use cedar “2 x” boards for the sides. These are commonly 2″ x 6″, but you can use 2″ x 4″ or 2″ x 8″ boards if this is what you have available. 2″ boards bought at a lumber yard are actually 1.5″ thick.
For the corner posts, use 4″ x 4″s, cut to 10″ longer than the desired height of the bed. If your bed is going to be longer than 8′, you will need extra posts to put in mid-span to prevent bowing and to provide a place to secure the cross-supports.
Use 3.5″ #10 coated deck screws for the project. You will need six screws for each corner and two for each mid-span post.
If you are using cross-supports, get a few 1″ stainless screws.
Buy several lengths of 1/2″ aluminum flat stock. This is available at most hardware stores, usually in 8′ lengths. It is very easy to cut with a hacksaw and to drill for the screws.
Soil depth requirements for common garden vegetables
12” – 18”
- Brussel Sprouts
18” – 24”
- Snap Beans
24” – 36”
- Lima Beans
- Sweet Potatoes
By understanding the basics of rooting behavior and the rooting depth requirements of the plants you want to grow, you will be more likely to make a better choice for the height of your garden beds, soil, and materials.
I am a huge container garden fan and have grown beautiful vegetables and flowers in container gardens. Raised garden beds are similar to tending a larger container garden.
Space is a great factor to consider when growing a garden at home. When choosing a planter or elevated container for growing vegetables, check to see that the bottom is constructed to allow for good drainage.
Also check that the bottom is strong enough to hold the weight of the soil when it is wet. Slatted bottoms with inner permeable liners are a good choice when choosing a container for vegetable gardening. Same goes for raised garden beds.
Raised garden beds are a wonderful way to get involved with nature and grow vegetables you love and consume. Learn about 6 ways your garden could be saving you money.
Garden beds are also used for growing flowers. I have seen several raised garden beds filled with the most beautiful flowers. Calling in monarch butterflies and bees pollinating beautifully.
We hope you take delight on gardening this year, get your kids and your family involved and enjoy the harvest to the fullest.
We hope you enjoy yourself today and keep checking back for ongoing tips, guides and great shopping!