Remember Joe's new hobby?
He spent last weekend building 3 raised garden beds. The space he's always used for a garden has fairly poor soil and lacks the bright sunlight to really produce.
To remedy those problems, he decided to build 3 raised garden beds. He placed them in a sunny spot in our yard, and he filled them with high-quality top soil.
He says he's building more raised beds next year if these work out like he hopes.
How to Build a Raised Garden Bed
Materials for one 4-foot by 8-foot raised garden bed
- For the sides – The hardware store sold pressure-treated 2x12s in 16-foot and 12-foot lengths. Joe asked them to cut the 16-foot planks in half, and the 12-foot planks into three 4-foot sections. (This was necessary, as he couldn't have gotten the full length boards home in his little car.)
- For the joints – One pressure-treated 8-foot 2×4 that Joe cut himself into four 17-inch pieces (with some leftover).
- Circular saw
- Drill with 7/64″ drill bit
- 3-inch drywall screws
To Assemble a Raised Garden Bed
1. For each of the 17-inch sections of 2×4, use the square and the circular saw to mark and cut a 45-degree angle on one end. These will be attached to the corners of the raised bed, and they will anchor the bed into the ground.
2. In order to prevent the wood splitting during construction, pre-drill holes into the sides and anchors.
3. Match up the 2×4 so that its longest side is even with the cut end of one of the 4-foot 2×12 segments. Using a 7/64″ drill bit, pre-drill pilot holes roughly one inch from the top and one inch from the bottom.
(I hope Joe didn't pre-drill holes into our deck. Tell your husband to do the drilling in the yard or something.)
5. Repeat at both ends of both 4-foot 2×12 segments.
You're almost done! The last step is to put the box together.
6. Line up one 8-foot segment with one 4-foot segment. Pre-drill two holes from the 8-foot segment into the end of the 4-foot segment, roughly two inches from the top and bottom of the board. (Make sure they are at a different level than your earlier screws; you don't want one to run into the other.)
7. Drill the screws into the holes.
8. Once you have the long pieces attached to the short piece, pre-drill 2 more holes from the long piece into the vertical anchors to add more support to the whole thing. So that the holes don't run into screws you've already placed, drill them 3 inches up and 3 inches down from the ends of the 2×12.
9. Put the screws into the holes.
10. Repeat the same procedure at the other end of the 2×12.
11. Next, Joe stood the whole thing up with the 8-foot 2×12 on the ground and the short pieces sticking up in the air. Repeat steps 6 through 10 to attach the second long piece.
That's it! Your raised bed is finished!
To Place the Raised Bed
- Decide where you want the bed to sit. Joe wanted ours at the highest in our yard so that it would get full sun almost all of the day.
- Dig holes to sink the anchors down into the ground. You don't want your masterpiece to blow away in strong summer winds.
- Level the ground as needed.
- If there are weeds or grass under the bed, cover it with non-glossy cardboard and a couple of layers of newspaper to kill the vegetation.
- Fill with soil. Each of Joe's beds took about 1 1/3 cubic yards of screened top soil to fill. He probably could have used a bit more, maybe 1 1/2 cubic yards.
Raised Garden Bed Cost Estimate
In the interest of full disclosure, this was an anti-frugal project.
The wood for 3 raised garden boxes cost about $150, and the 4 cubic yards of top soil they required to fill cost another $150. That's before we bought seeds and plants.
On the other hand, these will last a long, long time, and they will improve the quality of our Joe's garden bounty dramatically.
Joe's Money Saving Tip
If your soil is decent (ours isn't), you could use something less than 12-inch-wide planks. Depending on your soil, you may be happy with 2x10s or 2x6s or even smaller. He used 2x12s because he wanted to add a full foot of good soil on top of our not-so-great clay.
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