How One Family Built a Raised Vegetable Garden for Less than $200

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Tuohy
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When my family moved into our new home the first thing we did-before the ink was even dry on the contract-was plan our vegetable garden. We were so excited to finally have enough space to grow a proper garden. The combination of the financial and health benefits of growing our own vegetables, and the fabulous opportunity to ingrain in our young children a love of the outdoors and desire to care for and grow their own food, was irresistible.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how we built our paved, raised vegetable garden for $197.

Step One: Build A Box

The base of our raised vegetable garden is made up of three simple boxes, each 4 feet wide and 10 feet long. We decided on a 4-foot width to give us an arm’s reach into the bed from either side, so we won’t have to walk into the bed.

To build our boxes we needed the following items for each box (we built three in total):

• 1 6-foot 4-by-4-inch pine board
• 2 10-foot 2-by-8-inch pine boards
• 1 8-foot 2-by-8-inch pine board
• A box of 3-1/2-inch galvanized screws

First, we cut the 8-foot 2 x 8 in half with a circular skill saw to give us the ends of the bed. Then, we placed the 2 10-foot 2-by-8s in between the (now) 4-foot-long boards, creating a rectangle. The final piece of wood, the 4-by-4, we cut into four, 8-inch pieces and put one into each corner of the bed.

With a power drill, we attached the boards to the 8 in. pieces with the 3-1/2 inch galvanized screws, thereby securing each corner of the bed.

Step Two: Plan the Space

We laid each of our three boxes out in our planned area, spaced far enough apart to allow for room to comfortably kneel down between them. Then we marked the perimeter of the area we planned to pave with green landscape tape and dug it out to provide a level playing field for the pavers.

Step Three: Prepping the Pavers

We lined the entire space with landscape edging, to provide a “wall” that would hold the pavers in place. Next, we placed landscape cloth down under each box to provide for drainage and protection against weeds (we didn’t dig down into the soil, as recommended in this article on preparing your beds; because we live a block from the ocean, our soil is mostly sand).

Step Four: Placing the Pavers

Before the pavers went down, we spread paver base over the area and smoothed it out. Next, we laid the pavers, which were mainly old bricks we salvaged from around the yard (we did run a little short and had to pick up about 100 new ones).

The final step was to cover the pavers with paver sand and brush it in to fill in all the gaps. We did this twice, letting the first batch settle overnight before applying the second.

Step Five: Building the Garden

We picked up a cubic yard of compost at our local county-owned composting station for $10, and some fill dirt from a landscape company, mixed it all together and filled each bed.

Then came the fun part: planting! We planted some veggies from seed and others from seedlings and then sat back and waited to reap the fruits of our labor.

An inexact tally of our expenditure is as follows:

• Wood $50
• Nails $9
• Landscape cloth $14
• Landscape edging $27
• Bricks $35
• Soil $30
• Paver Base and Sand $32
• Total: $197

And here’s the finished product about four months later. All it took was a circular saw, a hammer, $197 worth of supplies, and a fun family weekend. Can’t you just smell all that healthy goodness?

Jennifer Tuohywrites about her DIY outdoor projects at home in South Carolina for The Home Depot. Jennifer’s raised bed garden project is a fine example of how inexpensive DIY can literally change the landscape of a yard. For a look at some of the tools Jennifer used to build her garden beds, you can click here.

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