Raised Garden Beds

If you’re looking to take your gardening game up a notch, consider building raised garden beds! Not only are raised garden beds attractive but they’re also easy to build and maintain. They are commonly made of wood, brick, or stone and can be raised to any desired height.

Building a raised garden bed is a simple project that can be completed on a weekend but there are a few things you should consider before getting started. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process, steps by step, of building a raised garden bed out of wood. Cedar, in particular, is a great choice for raised garden beds because it’s naturally resistant to rot and decay.

Why Should I Build Raised Garden Beds?

There are several benefits to gardening in raised beds.

  • Raised garden beds allow you to have better control over the quality of your soil
  • They help improve drainage and prevent erosion
  • Raised garden beds can be built to accommodate different types of plants and growing needs
  • They make it easier to weed and tend to your plants
  • They warm up early in the spring and give you a longer growing season
  • The raised beds keep weeds at bay because they are elevated above the ground and are filled with soil free of weeds and disease
  • They make your garden chores more comfortable decreasing bending and kneeling
  • Raised beds are excellent for confined areas where a conventional row garden might be overgrown and unmanageable

Among so many benefits, raised beds are also a beautiful addition to your garden. 

How to Choose the Best Material for Your Raised Beds

As we mentioned earlier, raised garden beds are typically made from wood, stone, or brick. Each material has its own set of benefits and drawbacks that you should consider before making a decision.

Wood is the most popular choice for raised garden beds because it’s relatively inexpensive and easy to work with. Cedar is a great type of wood to use for raised garden beds because it’s naturally resistant to rot and insect damage.

On the other hand, stone and brick are more expensive than wood but they will last longer. Although, they can be difficult to work with and often require professional installation.

Let’s look at materials a bit closer:

  • Treated Wood is a very good option. They’re made with chemicals to keep them from spoiling. However, studies have revealed that any substances that leak out are well within government-approved levels. Some gardeners remain skittish about treated wood. If you’re apprehensive, one alternative is to line the inside of the bed’s walls with polyethylene.

  • Untreated Wood like Hemlock and Pine are cheap but not durable so they will turn more expensive in the long run. Consider using Rot-resistant woods like redwood, locust, or cedar. They will last much longer although they are more expensive. The most popular wood for garden beds is cedar, which is both rot-resistant and long-lasting, lasting from 10 to 15 years because of the chemicals in the wood, it is also insect-resistant. Another alternative is to use untreated wood of much greater thickness. A 2-inch-thick board of larch wood, for example, should last ten years without treatment.

  • Recycled wood made from plastic bottles will last forever so the higher price is justified. The boards are made of recycled plastic and wood fibers. These raised garden beds will not rot, splinter, or crack and they’re insect-resistant.

  • Pallets can be a low-cost source for garden bed components, as long as you know where they came from. Pallets are designed to carry freight. Pallets that have been treated with methyl bromide, a chemical known to disrupt endocrine function should be avoided. Although many pallet producers stopped utilizing the chemical in 2005, many old pallets remain. Look for a stamp on the pallet that says “HT” or heat-treated and specifies how long it has been subjected to high temperatures. If there is no stamp or you can’t verify an HT on the surface, don’t use the pallet in your

  • Composite wood is a newer product made from recycled wood fibers and plastic. The material is rot-resistant, splinter-free, and insect-resistant. It’s also easy to clean and can be recycled again at the end of its useful life.

  • Concrete blocks are a good choice for raised garden beds because they’re inexpensive and easy to work with. They’re also rot-resistant and long-lasting. The only downside is that they can be difficult to move once they’re in place.

  • Railroad ties (treated) are an inexpensive and readily available option for raised garden beds. They’re easy to work with and rot-resistant. However, they’re treated with chemicals that can leach into the soil. So it’s important to line the inside of the bed with polyethylene before adding any plants or to use old railroad ties. The majority of the creosote, in old railroad ties, has leached away, so they appear to offer no health concerns.

  • Bricks can be used to build raised garden beds. They’re rot-resistant and long-lasting. However, they can be difficult to work with and often require professional installation. Keep in mind that concrete can increase the PH of the soil with time.

  • Stones and Rocks can be used to build raised garden beds. They are both a long-lasting option that is also very attractive. However, it can be difficult to work with and often requires professional installation.

Now that we’ve gone over some of the reasons why raised garden beds are awesome, let’s get to building one using Cedar.

Building a Cedar Raised Garden Bed: Step-by-Step Guide

Building a raised garden bed is a great way to add some gardening space to your yard without having to do a lot of digging. And using cedar will help to ensure that your garden bed will last for years to come.

1) Raised Bed Location

The most important part is to choose the right location for your raised garden bed and there are a few things to keep in mind. You want to choose a spot that gets plenty of sunlight, at least six hours of sunlight a day, and also has well-drained soil.

Keep in mind that raised beds tend to dry out more quickly than ground-level gardens. So consider choosing a spot that is close to a water source. A hose or sprinkler system will make it easy to keep your plants watered, and you won’t have to lug watering cans back and forth from the house.

You’ll also want to avoid any spots where there is too much wind. Raised garden beds can be vulnerable to wind damage, so it’s best to choose a sheltered spot. With these considerations in mind, you should be able to find the perfect spot for your raised garden bed.

2) Gather the Materials

If you’re looking to build a raised garden bed out of cedar, you’ll need a few supplies.

  • Cedar boards: The number of boards you’ll need will depend on the size of your garden bed.
  • Deck screws to attach the boards together
  • Measuring tape & dark pencil
  • Power drill with screwdriver bits to fit your screws. Be sure to have a few extra bits, you may go through a few
  • Handsaw or Circular Saw – if you have never used a powered circular saw consider having your lumber dealer cut your wood; or ask a handy friend or neighbor to make the cuts for you 
  • Garden Shovel
  • Landscape Fabric to line the inside of the raised garden bed (optional)
  • Compost and/or Soil to fill your raised garden bed
  • Plants or Seeds for planting
  • Watering can or hose with a sprinkler attachment (optional)

3) Cut the Boards to Size

The length of the boards will depend on how big you want your raised garden bed to be. The width of a garden bed is typically between two and four feet while the depth will depend on the roots of the plans you want to grow (usually 12 to 18 inches deep). The length will depend on the amount of space you have available and the type of plants you wish to grow.

Cut the boards to their measured length. Cut 2 x 4s for corner supports from the timber. They should be as tall as the garden bed wall. Posts may also be cut to strengthen the walls.

4) Assemble the Frame

To assemble the frame, clamp or ask someone to hold the boards for one of the walls together. Then, put the post that you want to use as a corner on top of the clamped boards, make sure that the post is flush with the end of the walls, then set it back about an inch and a half from the end of the other wall that forms that corner.

Repeat this for the four corners and use the deck screws to attach the boards and the posts, forming a rectangular frame. It is a good practice to pre-drill before attaching the boards and posts with the screws to avoid splitting the wood. If you cut extra posts you can attach them at this point as well.

Make sure all the posts are installed on the inside of the bed in a way that the outside of the box has a smooth look.

5) Setting up the Raised Garden Bed

Once you have the box for your raised garden bed is time to set it up at the chosen location. I like to place the frame in position and then outline it using a shovel or chalk powder. Then put the frame aside and completely remove any weed and/or grass from this area, leaving only exposed ground where you will position the box for your raised bed.

If you do not have the choice to set up your raised bed on the ground and have to do it in concrete, keep in mind that the drainage and root growth will be limited by this hard surface. It can be done but positioning the frame in the ground will give you a better chance.

6) Landscape Fabric (Optional Step)

Now that the frame is assembled, you’re almost ready to fill it with soil and plants. But first, you may want to line the inside of the raised garden bed with landscape fabric. Doing this is optional, but it can help to prevent weeds from taking root in your raised bed.

To do this, simply cut a piece of landscape fabric to fit the inside of the raised bed frame and have some extra to go up the walls too. Then lay the landscape fabric inside the raised bed and use the deck screws to attach it to the frame and/or landscape fabric pegs to keep it in place.

The soil in the bed will be separated from the yard’s soil by this barrier that prevents weeds and grass from sprouting up. The landscape fabric is also permeable allowing water through for efficient drainage.

7) Fill With Soil

If the wood you are using for the raised garden bed frame isn’t rot-resistant, consider lining the interior walls with heavy-duty plastic before adding the soil.

Having the option of using good quality soil is one of the best advantages of growing vegetables and plants in raised garden beds. It will also allow you to adjust the soil and amendment ratios to the plants you pick.

Take your time and look for the perfect soil for the plants you wish to cultivate. A good rule of thumb is to look for a soil mix made with 60% topsoil, 30% compost, and 10% potting mix.

Make sure to add sufficient soil to fill your raised bed because the soil mix will settle to some extent during the first week or so. To calculate the volume of soil needed to fill the frame of the raised bed consider using the formula (Length x Width x Depth). For example, a frame that measures 8 ft by 4ft by 10in will require about 27 cubic feet of soil mix.

8) Planting

And finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for: it’s time to plant your raised garden bed!

Start by adding some plants to the center of the bed and then fill in around them. As you add plants, be sure to give them enough space to grow. Check the seed packet or plant tag to find out how much space each plant needs.

It is important to check how much water each plant will need and at what stage of the plant life. For example, lectures and onions should not be planted next to each other as they have different water requirements. Cucumbers, on the other hand, can be planted next to just about anything as they are pretty versatile.

You should also be aware of the amount of sun each plant needs to grow properly. For example, lettuce requires quite a bit of sunlight while carrots can get by with less.

9) Watering

The best time to water your raised garden bed is in the morning so the plants have time to absorb the water before the heat of the day sets in and the sun evaporates the water. Water slowly and evenly until the soil is moistened to a depth of at least six inches.

If you find that your raised bed is drying out too quickly, consider covering it with mulch. This will help to conserve moisture and keep the roots of your plants cooler. You can use straw, grass clippings, leaves, or even wood chips for mulch. Just make sure that the mulch is not too thick or it will prevent the water from reaching down to the roots of the plants.

Note: Consider adding a mesh cover to protect your plants from birds and rabbits.

FAQ

What is a Raised Garden Bed?

A raised garden bed is a frame made of wood, stone, or metal that is filled with soil. It is usually built on top of the ground and can be used to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers.

How Wide Should a Raised Garden Bed be?

The width of a raised garden bed should be such that you can reach the center of the bed from either side without having to step into the bed. This will compact the bed soil, making it more difficult for plant roots to obtain oxygen. This is typically between two and four feet.

If you have limited space or are building the raised beds against a fence/wall, consider building them only one foot wide. It will allow you to reach the entire area inside the raised bed without having to step in. These narrow raised beds are often called strawberry towers and are perfect for growing small plants like strawberries, herbs, and salad greens. 

How Long Should a Raised Garden Bed be?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it will depend on the amount of space you have available and the type of plants you wish to grow. However, raised garden beds that are too short will not give you enough space to grow a variety of plants. It is best to err on the side of caution and build a raised garden bed that is too long rather than too short.

How Deep Should a Raised Garden Bed Be?

The depth of a raised garden bed is important as it will determine how much root space your plants have. The general rule of thumb is that the raised bed should be no more than 12 inches deep. This will allow the roots to reach down into the soil to obtain water and nutrients while also preventing them from becoming waterlogged.

If you are growing plants that require deeper roots (such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants), you may need to build raised beds that are 18 inches deep. Just be sure to amend the soil with organic matter to ensure proper drainage.

What do I Put on the Bottom of a Raised Garden Bed?

The bottom of a raised garden bed is typically left open to allow for proper drainage. However, if you are concerned about soil erosion or have very sandy soil, you may want to consider adding a layer of landscape fabric to the bottom of the raised bed. This will help to prevent the soil from washing away during heavy rains.

You can also line the bottom of the raised bed with rocks or stones. This will help to improve drainage and prevent the soil from washing away. Just be sure that the rocks are not too large or they will impede root growth.

Another option is to staple mesh hardware cloth to the bottom of your garden bed box to help with weeds growth while still allowing earthworms to get in and enrich the soil mix. You may also use cardboard or even newspaper to prevent weed development from the bottom, but keep in mind that weed seeds can fall into the soil and grow.

What Are the Disadvantages of Raised Garden Beds?

The main disadvantage of raised garden beds is that they can be more expensive to build than traditional in-ground gardens. This is because you will need to purchase the lumber and other materials needed to build the raised bed.

In addition, raised garden beds can be more difficult to maintain than in-ground gardens. This is because the soil in raised beds dries out more quickly and weeds can easily take root, but this can be mitigated by adding mulch to the surface.

Should Raised Garden Beds Have a Bottom?

As raised garden beds are typically built above ground level, they need to have some type of bottom to prevent the soil from falling out. The most common type of bottom for raised garden beds is hardware cloth, which is a type of wire mesh that allows water to drain while preventing roots and soil from escaping.

Other options for the bottom of raised garden beds include landscape fabric, rocks, and stones. Just be sure that whatever you use is permeable so that water can drain properly.

Conclusions

Building raised garden beds is a great way to get started in gardening. Not only do they provide better drainage and aeration for your plants, but they are also more comfortable, making it easier on your back.

In addition, raised garden beds can be built in any size or shape to fit your needs. So think about how much space you have and what you’ll be growing.

There are a variety of materials available, from wood to stone to plastic. Consider what will work best for your needs and budget.

Now all that’s left to do is sit back and watch your garden grow! With a little care and attention, you’ll soon be harvesting fresh vegetables.

Similar Posts