I’m sharing how I planned for and created my raised bed garden. To start, build a Durable Raised Garden Bed since durability is critical to long-lasting garden success. I have discovered the fastest, easiest, most budget-friendly method to build durable raised garden bed boxes. Using these plans, you’ll be ready to get roots in the ground in no time!
In February of 2020, I had a stroke of inspiration to start vegetable seeds and grow a spring/summer garden. I’m sure my husband was quite skeptical but I truly wanted to give it a go. I’ve always enjoyed gardening in containers but I wanted to level up. I started my seeds indoors before even knowing where I would put them once they grew. That’s typical for me- I figure it out as I go. It’s really the same way that we started with chickens. Some things you just have to learn by doing. Most things, actually!
Anyway, as my seedlings came along inside I knew I had limited time to make a plan for the actual garden. After a lot of consideration, I chose to build durable raised garden beds rather than planting in the ground. The soil here on our property has extremely high water content and then there’s the clay. Read my post about choosing the right garden method for you for more information.
I looked back through my photos and I see that March 7 was when I built my first raised bed boxes. I remember it like yesterday because it was difficult for me! Having little experience with building things, I knew I could do it (and I did!) but it was not a streamlined process.
At the end of the summer growing season, I knew I wanted to expand. I see a big beautiful strawberry patch in our future so I will need more room to accommodate them. After building and DIYing all spring and summer (thanks Covid!), my husband and I have plenty of practical knowledge under our belts now.
All that to say, I have finally figured out the fastest, easiest, most budget-friendly method to build durable raised garden beds! And I’m sharing all the details with you today.
Why Raised Garden Beds?
As I mentioned before, I chose raised garden beds because of the high water content in our soil. We are nearly at sea level here in Baton Rouge and the soil just isn’t great. It would take lots of working and amending to get an in-ground garden just right to thrive. That being said, there are so many other reasons for choosing to build durable raised garden beds.
- Aesthetics– Come on, raised beds just look beautiful. They’re self-contained and geometric. When they’re full of lush vegetation they’re gorgeous and overflowing. Even when they’re empty or have just been planted, they have a neat and tidy appearance. A quick search on Pinterest for Raised Bed Gardens will give you endless inspiration!
- No Tilling– You don’t have to own a tiller to grow veg in raised garden beds. Since you fill the beds with your choice of soil, compost, etc. it’s much easier to work the soil than to work the compacted ground. This was one of the biggest considerations for our backyard garden.
- Weed Control– With raised beds, it simple to keep weeds under control. Unlike working the ground, you control what goes into the boxes. It’s naturally much more difficult for weeds to creep in since you’ll have a weed barrier under the soil and the physical barrier of the box as well. I just pull any weeds that I see beginning to sprout each day when I walk through the garden area, simple and quick!
- Grow as You Go– When you choose a raised bed garden, you can scale up easily. For example, right now my garden consists of 3 raised bed boxes that are full of fall vegetables. I also have 2 new boxes that are started and in place but not yet full of soil. They are in the process though. I’ve got the cardboard and a thick layer of mulch in the bottom of the boxes to smother grass and weeds. Soon I’ll start adding leaves, grass clippings, and other yard waste. To keep things budget-friendly, I’m just building and adding on as I can.
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- 4- Full length 5/8 in. x 6 in. x 6 ft. Cedar Dog-Ear Fence Picket
- 2- 5/8 in. x 6 in. x 6 ft. Cedar Dog-Ear Fence Picket, cut in half (3ft lengths)
- 1- 2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Whitewood Stud
- 1 Box- #6 x 2 in. Phillips Head Coarse Thread Screws (1 lb.-Pack)
- Soil, Compost, Manure for filling bed
- 1/8 Drill Bit for pilot holes
- Phillips head drill bit for screws
- Carpenter's Square (useful, but not mandatory)
- (4) 6 in. x 6 ft. Fence Pickets
- (4) 6 in. x 6 ft. Fence Pickets cut to 36 inches
- (6) 2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Stud cut to 12 inches
To keep this project super simple, let your big box or hardware store do the cuts. Then all you'll have to do at home is assembly. You'll be amazed at how quickly this garden bed comes together. Let's get started!
1. Using a long fence picket and a 12-inch section of 2x4, attach the 2x4 to the backside of the fence picket using 2 screws. The 2x4 should be flush with the end of the fence picket on each end.
*Note: After trying both ways, drilling pilot holes for the screws and not, I think it's best to drill pilot holes unless you have self-sinking screws.
2. Repeat this on each end of 2 fence pickets. This will give you a start to both long sides of the garden box.
3. After attaching the 2x4s to your pickets, you'll add the shorter pieces to create the ends of the box. Make sure the shorter end boards are flush so that a neat corner is created.
*I recommend using the carpenter's square here to check that your boxes are square before screwing the pieces in place. Adjust the angle until you get a tight fit with the carpenter's square in each corner and then secure with screws.
4. Now you should have a nice rectangle box! And you'll just repeat the same steps of attaching the long pickets to the 2x4s, add the end pieces and again check for square before securing in place with screws.
5. Finally, you'll want to use your remaining 2x4 pieces to add some support to the long pickets in the middle. Measure 36 inches from the end of the picket to fin the middle of the box. Attach the 2x4 piece using screws from the outside of the box.
Once you add the middle supports, the durable raised garden bed box is complete!
* Use the provided cut list and have your big box store make the cuts for you! If you choose to make the cuts yourself, be sure to secure your wood with clamps before cutting with a miter or circular saw.
* The boxes could be painted or stained before use but be sure to check for safety and compatibility with growing food in the containers.
My Tips to Build Durable Raised Garden Beds
- Plan out your garden space. Remember that you won’t be able to move the garden boxes once they’re full of soil. Consider the sunlight, tree cover and micro-climate of the area you’re planning to place the boxes. If necessary, move the garden boxes around while they’re empty to determine the best layout and design before filling.
- Unless you’re really tight on space, I recommend 3 feet of a walkway between boxes. You will want the room for things like mowing between boxes, bringing your wheelbarrow or wagon through as well as bags of soil or mulch. Make sure it’s easy for you to get around the beds and boxes.
- Don’t use pressure-treated lumber for your garden beds. I don’t recommend using pressure-treated lumber in this case. Even though the boxes are outside and could be more prone to rot, the chemicals used to treat the wood could affect the growth of your crops. Instead, I would recommend buying the highest quality natural wood that you can afford. Woods like red cedar and redwood are great options. Here’s a great article about choosing the correct wood for you. If these aren’t in the budget, don’t worry. The beds will last a long time either way!