How to Build a Raised Garden Bed? – Complete DIY Guide (With Pictures)

Raised garden beds offer a lot of benefits to gardeners, they are easy to construct and maintain. In this article, we will go through how to build a raised garden bed plus some professional advice on the right wood to use to avoid termites and properly support the soil.

There is a myriad of reasons why a raised garden bed is better than other form of gardening, but before we get into that – What exactly is a raised garden bed?

What is a Raised Garden Bed?

Literally, a raised garden bed is a large container usually made from wood that is constructed to sit above ground and contains soil used for planting. Raised garden beds are constructed without bottoms or tops but there is a sturdy supporting frame around.

Benefits of raised garden beds

Here are a few reasons why we fill raised garden beds are beneficial

  • The raised nature of garden beds makes them a lot easier to maintain and operate than traditional gardens. No more painful back bending and shoulder strain just to take care of plant life.
  • Raised garden beds are the best option where a traditional garden is considered to be wide and irrational.  Raised beds help keep plants organized in little spaces. 
  • You have full control over the soil quality and quantity, unlike traditional gardens were altering the quality of the soil can be very hard to do. The ability to control soil quality becomes very important in areas where the soil is rocky.
  • With a raised garden bed, you have the ability to extend the growing season since you the option to work on the soil at your will.
  • With a raised garden bed, few weed occurs because it is elevated above ground level and out of the reach of other weeds.
  • Raised garden beds are easier for companion plant gardening than traditional gardens.

How to choose the right wood for a raised garden bed?

How do you choose the best wood for your raised garden bed particularly when most pressure-treated woods have been bound because of their bad ability to leach arsenic into the soil.  Here are several options you can consider:

  • Treated Lumber: Treated lumber wood is one of the best around for raised garden beds because they are usually pre-treated with chemicals to avoid the moist from soil and weather rot it.
  • Cedar: Cedar is a rather more expensive wood to use. They are pretreated with natural oils to make them resist rotting.  They will last for many years to come but are more expensive. Weigh your options very carefully before buying cedar
  • Combining woods with thicker boards can make them last longer. Some thick boards like locally made larch can last as long as 10 years.
  • Avoid the use of toxic railroad ties

If you don’t fancy the use of woods, you can use concrete blocks or bricks, however, over time concrete labs will increase soil PH.

Detailed instructions on how to build a raised garden bed

There are basic steps to follow if you want to construct a strong raised garden bed. The truth is, constructing one is not cast on stone, so you can bend the rules and put in your own artistic designs to the construction. For this project, we will be raising a hypothetical bed that is 20-inch high, 8-feet long and 4-feet wide.

Materials needed

  • Six wide 8-foot boards 
  • Scarp boards
  • 3-inch nails
  • 2 square yards of topsoil
  • Your plants

Cut the boards

Cut two of the boards in half to create 4-inch boards using a reliable board saw. This leaves you with a total of four 8-inch boards and four 4-inch boards. Next cut the scarp bouts into 5-inch length to get at least 8 scarp pieces.

Level out the area

Now it’s time to level out the area where the raised garden bed will be. Cut down any overgrown grass, trim out the weeds and break down all lumps of soil until you have a level area.

Position the boards

Layering out the boards for quick construction is the best ways to go about fitting all the pieces together. Position the boards close to the finished garden area so that you can easily transport it in position.  Once the raised garden frame has been laid out, try to edge out the area to allow them to sink into position.

Time to attach the pieces together

Use a reliable hammering tool to attach all the laid pieces together. Make sure that you hold up the boards on their sides to allow the end boards overlap the sideboards. Secure all pieces together using the 3-inch nails purchased. Repeat this process on all corners to create a rectangular shape.

Add supporting frames

Supporting frames are needed but not compulsory. They help keep the entire piece in shape for a long time. To add supporting frames, position a 1 x 2-inch section vertically.

Reinforce with a second layer

Adding a second layer is easy once you have set up the rectangular frames. Work your way around by using the frames as a second hand and secure with nails as you did (4) above.

Reinforce the sides

Adding soil to the rectangular raised garden frame can add significant weight to the setup. This is why you have to make sure that all sides are reinforced.  The sides are prone to breakage so ensure you reinforce them by placing pieces of woods vertically on the inside to strengthen the setup.

Adding soils and plants

Constructing a raised garden bed is half the battle, now we must determine the soil and plant type to use with the raised bed.

Adding soil

Adding garden soil is the next stage after the garden has been raised. Using a reliable shovel fill the raised bed with topsoil transferred from an area on your garden or purchased from a garden shop.  Use a shovel with a long ergonomic handle to avoid over-straining your backs or pay laborers to get it done. Adding soil is the best time to mix things up with fertilizers and other soil enhancers for better plant growth.

Smoothen out the surface

Plants grow better on even soil surfaces where they have the best sunlight and are least prone to leaching from flooding. Spread out the garden soil on the rectangular frame by using a rake.  The power tips of a rake will help break up large chunks hereby loosing and aerating the soil.

Prepare the transplants

Next, prepare the transplants from the plastic containers purchased from a local gardening soil or from anywhere that suit you.

Plant your garden

Plant your raised garden bed ensuring you obey plant spacing rules for healthy growth. If possible, use a handy to tool to effortlessly transfer and plant your garden.

Finish your bed

Once you are done with the final stages of planting, it’s time to properly smoothen out the soil around each plant.

Time to sit back and watch your plants grow fast.

How big should a raised bed be?

  • As we pointed out early, you need a raised garden bed that is constructed on a flat level surface with the right amount of sunlight.
  • 4 feet is the most commonly used width with so cut the wood in 4-foot increments. The width should allow you access the garden without having to step on the soil bed. If you make the garden bed too wide you will have a hard time reaching out to all areas of the bed.
  • Length isn’t as important as width, but 8-foot long is ideal. You are at liberty to make your bed as long as you like or construct multiple posts for as many crops/plants as you like
  • The depth of the raised garden bed is usually about 6-12 inches because plants generally need that depth to grow their roots. 
Brice The Botanist
 

Growing up in Ventura, California famous for it's rich gardens. Brice has spent most of his life trying to help make the world greener. Studying Botany at CSRA, he's made it a lifelong passion to greenify every home.

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