The planting season is upon us and now is the time to get those vegetables and herbs into the ground. Many of us might be utilizing strategies like container planting this year. But for homeowners who want to commit a little bit more, building an easy raised garden bed can be the ticket to garden heaven. Raised garden beds are a simple DIY project that don’t take a huge amount of money or skill to complete. Here’s how to build one in your yard.
1. Gather Your Preferred Materials
There are multiple ways to go about creating a raised garden bed in your own backyard. The method you choose will depend on the amount of work you feel comfortable doing, your resources, and your preferred aesthetic.
The two main types of raised garden beds we think are easiest for anyone to construct are made using either wooden plank’s, or cement retaining wall blocks. Each material has its benefits and drawbacks.
If using wooden planks to create your border, you will need:
- Two, 8 ft long 2X12 wooden planks
- Two, 4 ft long 2X12 wooden planks
- 12 pieces of 2 ft long rebar
- A mallet
- Hammer & nails
- Shovel and Rake
If using cement retaining wall blocks, supplies are minimal. You will simply need enough blocks of your choosing to stack into the desired dimensions of your retaining wall, as well as soil. Construction of a cement retaining wall is simple–stack your blocks in a staggered pattern until you have reached your desired height and shape. Then fill with quality soil, level, and get to planting!
2. Map Out Your Space
After you have gathered your materials, it’s time to measure and map out your space. The location you choose will depend on your chosen plants. We will discuss more about the location of raised beds at the end of the article.
To map out your space, measure and mark a box that is 8’X4’. Make sure the ground is level. From here, you can either remove your top layer of grass with a shovel, and rake to level, or leave the grass in place. If you leave your grass in place, you should create a barrier between the ground and your new soil with newspaper or similar material.
3. Position Your Boards, Hammer Rebar.
Once you have measured out your space, it’s time to position your boards along your plot of land. Lay boards on the ground with their inner corners touching. Side by side, stand your planks up. For the long sides, hammer in supporting rebar a foot inward from each corner using your rubber mallet. For short sides, position rebar at the center of each plank for support.
4. Add & Hammer Additional Rebar Supports
Once your boards are in place and you are happy with the positioning of your DIY raised garden bed, you can finalize it by adding and hammering additional rebar support. Support should be added every two feet along the sides of your bed.
After rebar has been positioned to your liking, hammer the support deeper into the ground using your rubber mallet. When finished, only about 8 inches of rebar should be visible above the ground.
5. Reinforce Raised Garden Bed Frame with Nails
Once all the rebar has been placed, you can either move directly to filling with soil, or you can reinforce with nails. Many people believe the pressure exerted by the soil paired with the rebar offers enough structural integrity. If that is the case for you, move directly to filling with soil.
If you think your DIY raised garden bed could benefit from some extra help, then a few well placed nails can go a long way. To reinforce, hammer boards together at their joints. Ensure the nails you are using are thick enough to offer adequate support. Long screws and a drill can also be used, depending on your preference.
6. Fill With Soil
Once your frame has been built, you are ready to fill it with soil. For best results, you should use soil that is specifically formulated for the type of planting you aim to do. Some varieties of plants demand better soil drainage than others. Some prefer sandy soil, and some plants will do well in a wide range of conditions. As a general rule, soil should be a mix of half quality top soil, and half quality compost.
It’s also important that you have enough soil to fill your DIY raised garden bed completely. Fill or shovel your raised bed all the way to the top of the planks with soil. Once finished, rake to level the soil.
7. Get Planting! Or…
Once your garden bed has been filled with soil, you are technically ready to get planting. Follow the recommended planting and care instructions for each plant, and be sure not to overcrowd your raised bed.
You can also choose to continue to customize the design of your raised bed in several ways. Those struggling with animals like rabbits and deer may choose to provide their bed with extra protection. Chicken wire or mesh fencing can be nailed or stapled along the perimeter of your raised garden bed.
Gardeners can also choose to customize their DIY raised garden with add ons such as drip irrigation systems, staking, soil coverage to help discourage weeds. However you choose to customize your raised bed, the opportunity to enjoy a brand new garden in your backyard is universal.
How much does a raised garden bed cost?
If you’re impressed by the ease of creating your own raised garden bed, then the cost will probably impress you as well. Most basic raised garden beds can be constructed for under $50 using wood and rebar from your local home improvement store.
Key Factors to Consider Before Building A DIY Raised Garden Bed
While the process of building your DIY raised garden bed is relatively simple, you should keep a few key factors in mind.
You can build the most beautiful raised garden bed that anyone has ever seen. However, if you build it in the wrong location, you will not be very successful. Best conditions vary based on the types of plants you intend to use. However, most vegetable gardens benefit from a location that receives at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
As mentioned, gardeners should ensure that they are filling their DIY raised garden bed with a quality soil–a mix of half quality top soil, and half quality compost. One of the best parts of a raised garden bed is that you have such control over your soil quality, so this is not an area to neglect.
Type of Wood
While any wood will work for a single season raised garden bed, those who want to get more life from their DIY project should choose their materials more carefully. Untreated wood like pine can be great for a season, but moisture and insects will rot it quickly over time, compromising the stability of your garden bed.
Instead, use wood treated against insects and moisture. Or, opt for naturally insect repellent woods such as cedar which do better in these kinds of conditions.