Rammed Earth Garden Beds

You can use local raw materials to build rammed earth garden beds.

| June/July 2014

Rammed earth garden beds are made by compressing a damp mixture of approximately 70 percent sand, 30 percent clay, and a small amount of cement into an externally supported form or mold, creating a solid, earthen wall after the frames are removed. One of the benefits of rammed earth is that its high thermal mass absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night. My technique for building rammed earth garden beds makes use of local raw materials, is resistant to temperature changes and is remarkably cost-effective.

Construct rammed earth garden beds by using two frames — a box inside of a box with a 3 1/2-inch gap between the walls. Pack this gap with the earth mixture, then remove the frames, leaving earthen walls that are ready to hold your garden soil.


3 sheets of 4-by-8-foot plywood
4 pipe clamps, each 60 inches in length
Twelve 2-by-4s
1 bag of Portland cement
12 hardwood wedges
1 hand tamper (or optional power tamper)
Mix of local sand and clay

Start by constructing the framework. Cut all three of the 4-by-8-foot plywood sheets in half, resulting in six pieces of 2-by-8-foot plywood. Set two of the newly cut pieces aside. Cut the remaining plywood boards into the following sizes: two at 2-by-4 feet, two at 24-by-41 inches, and two at 24-by-89 inches. Save the leftover wood for a future project.

The external, larger box uses the two panels that are 2-by-8 feet and the two panels that are 2-by-4-feet, held together with the pipe clamps. The internal form uses the two 24-by-41-inch boards and the two 24-by-89-inch boards, braced with the twelve 2-by-4s. After the two frames are assembled, you will have two big boxes sitting on the ground, with a 3 1/2-inch gap between their walls.
5/22/2018 10:51:12 PM

I use the plans at WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG to build my own DIY projects – I highly recommend you visit that website and check their plans out too. They are detailed and super easy to read and understand unlike several others I found online. The amount of plans there is mind-boggling… there’s like 16,000 plans or something like that for tons of different projects. Definitely enough to keep me busy with projects for many more years to come haha. Go to WWW.EASYWOODWORK.ORG if you want some additional plans :)

8/5/2016 9:14:13 PM

Really skimpy instructions for a how-to.... disappointed!

8/5/2016 11:18:50 AM

This is an interesting concept. Do these beds remain porous? I'm wondering if you could make flooring of the same materials for these beds to keep out burrowing garden pests like voles, etc. Also, how long have you used these beds? I'm trying to get an idea of how long they last compared to other raised beds. They sound very sturdy, but I wonder how they would hold up in terms of erosion, etc., since they are mostly sand and clay.

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