How to make raised garden beds
Building a raised garden bed is relatively easy. You’ll need to decide what kind of wood to use. How tall you’d like your structure to be, as well as if you want to use pre fabricated braces or build the whole bed on your own.
How to make a raised garden bed
What kind of wood to use:
Cedar, in most cases, is the best choice of wood because it is naturally rot resistant. Western red cedar is commonly used, but Vermont white cedar, Port Orford (yellow) cedar, and Juniper are also great choices for outdoor construction projects.
Another excellent wood to use is Redwood because it is also rot resistant. However redwood is a very limited resource. How long the wood will last depends on the climate conditions locally as well as the type of cedar you choose use.
How tall, wide, and long the bed should be:
Any desired height up to 36” is ideal. Most commonly bed heights average about 11” which is the height of two 2” by 6” boards on top of each other. Keep in mind the taller the bed the more pressure of the soil there will be and this can cause the boards to blow outward.
However there is a simple fix to this, cross supports. Cross supports help support the pressure of the soil. Roots will stretch deep into the ground so you can even have a 6” high bed and have wonderful results.
The best width to have is about 4” wide simply so that the middle of the bed is accessible without having to step on the bed because this will compress the soil. The bed can be any length as long as there are supports every 4’ – 6’ along the length of the bed to prevent bowing. If the garden space is available the longer the bed the better.
Tools and materials:
• Lumber – 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’ll need extra posts to put in mid-span to prevent bowing and to provide a place to secure the cross-supports.
• Fastenings – Use 3.5″ #10 coated deck screws for the project. You’ll 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.
• Cross Supports – 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.
• Tools – Hand saw, square, carpenter’s level, mallet (or sledge), screwdriver, hacksaw, drill.
-Cut and assemble the basic frame, block it up to level
• Clear the area where the bed will be located, because you will be building the bed “in place”.
Use a square to mark the ends and saw the boards to desired length. Put two screws in each corner to hold it together for now. Set a level on the frame and place blocks beneath it to keep it level. Do this for the ends and the sides.
-Drive in corner posts and screw the boards into them
• Cut the post pieces longer than you will need. You can saw a point on the bottom of the posts, although is it not essential.
Set the first post into the corner of the frame and drive the post into the ground a few inches. Screw the frame into the post, using two screws per side. Set the other posts in place and screw them in the same way.
-Fill in boards to ground. Saw post tops flush to sides
• Now add the bottom row of boards down to ground level, using the same method of simply screwing into the posts. You may have to dig into the ground in places to get the boards to fit.
Using a hand saw, cut the posts where they stick up, so that they are flush to the sides of the bed. Smooth the ground in the pathway and start filling the bed with soil.
• If your bed is longer than 8′, or taller than 18″, it’s a good idea to use cross-bracing. This will prevent the bed from bowing outwards in the center of the span.
Use a hacksaw to cut the aluminum flat stock to the exact width of the bed. Drill a hole in each end, and use a 1″ stainless screw to attach the cross-brace to the posts at either side of the span.
-Top up the bed with soil and get gardening
• Use your best garden soil to top off the bed. If there are rocks, the soil can be screened through a piece of 1/2″ mesh. Or you can just pull out any rocks you come across.
Add soil amendments such as peat, lime, rock phosphate and organic fertilizer, as needed. Spray the soil with a fine spray, and top it off again because the water will lower the soil level a bit.
And by following these simple tactics you too can build a raised garden bed.
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