DIY Raised Garden Bed Introduction:
My wife and I don’t claim to be green thumbs, but as we get more into a preparedness/self-sustaining lifestyle, we are trying more and more to learn new skills that will be beneficial.
Where I live, here in Utah, the soil is all clay, hard to work with, and hard to grow in. An easy solution is to ignore the poor soil, build a raised planter, and bring in good compost/manure/topsoil mix. This is what we decided to do.
This guide will be based on my planting space, which is odd in that it is narrow and long. Our boxes were 12ft long, 30in wide, and 2ft tall Most people will want wider boxes more like 8′ by 4ft, so adapt your materials list as necessary.
We chose redwood for its beautiful appearance, and rot-resistance, but cedar will do well also. I would avoid pressure treated lumber for growing edibles due to the chemicals used in the treatment process.
The materials list below will build one 12ft long x 30in wide x 2ft tall box.
- 1 x box of 3″ wood screws
- 1 x 4’x8′ sheet of 1/2″ plywood
- 4 x 2″x12″x”12′ redwood or cedar board
- 1 x 2″x12″x10′ redwood or cedar board
- 1 x 4″x4″x12′ redwood or cedar post
- 1 x 3’x15′ roll of hardware cloth (metal or plastic is fine)
- Drill driver, with assorted drill bits
- Table saw, or circular saw and a steady hand
- Tape measure
Cutting and build preparation:
- Start by cutting your 4″x4″ into six 22″ long peices. This allowed for 4″ of the post to be buried, span 12″ across the first redwood plank, then 6 inches above that for attaching the next plank.
- We then cut the 2″x12″x10′ board into four 27″ long pieces for the sides.
- I started by setting one of the 27″ pieces of 2″x12″ on top of one of the 22″ pieces of 4″x4″ and adjusting it so that the 4″x4″ stuck out 6″ on one side, and 4″ on the other, then screwed it together at the very end of the 2″x12″ — Imagine the 4″x4″ being a corner post.
- I then repeated step 1, on the opposite side of the 2″x12″
- At this point, you now have one side of your planter, and you can repeat steps 1 and 2 to create the other side.
- Now you have two I-shaped assemblies that you can set on their side (one 4″x4″ on the ground, one in the air, and the 2″x12″ now standing vertical) — Space these approximately 12′ apart, with the 2″x12″ boards facing away from each other.
- Take your first 2″x12″x12″ board and set it on top of the two I-shaped assemblies built in steps 1 and 2. Position it so that it lines up with the 27″ sections, leaving 4″ of 4″x4″ exposed on one side, and 6″ exposed on the other. Screw these down into the corners.
- Rotate the entire assembly and repeat the previous step to create your square.
- If you will be adding center posts, measure to the center of each of the long sides, and screw in a 22″ section of 4″x4″ keeping 4″ exposed on one side, and 6″ exposed on the other.
- At this point you can rotate the entire assembly so that the 4″ sections of 4″x4″ are facing up, and install the hardware cloth as shown in this picture:
- Now before going any further, you can move the assembly into place, so that you can mark where to dig out for your posts. I suggest not adding the last set of 2″x12″ boards until this step is complete, as they make the assembly very heavy, and can be added in place.
- Once you have your posts buried, you can grab your remaining 2″x12″ sections and screw them in to the exposed 6″ of 4″x4″ above the first row to add the extra height.
- Lastly, you can now drill pilot holes, and screw the top four corners of the box together from 2″x12″ to 2″x12″
- For extra stability, you can get a 27″ section of 2″x4″ to screw from center post to center post to prevent bowing in the middle.
- When building ours, we placed them above existing sprinklers, so we tied into the system for automatic irrigation.
- You’re finished with the building! Now it’s up to you to determine what soild mix to use, and what plants to grow!
Sit back, and enjoy your hard work. Below are some pictures of our end-result sans-soil and plants (coming soon.)
If you’re looking to spruce up your raised beds even more, my sister created a tutorial for making DIY Herb Garden Markers over on her blog called “Simply Notable.” The link to her tutorial is here: http://www.simplynotable.com/2013/diy-herb-garden-markers/
Good luck, and feel free to comment with any questions! I hope this helps!