Building raised beds is a popular pastime among gardeners, and it isn’t hard to see why. We’ll show you how to build your own!
Build raised garden beds no more than about 4 feet wide to avoid the need to step on the soil and compact it (2 to 3 feet wide if the bed will be against a wall or fence). The boards should be at least 6 inches high, or up to 1 foot for root crops. When planning how to make your raised beds, don’t forget to include paths; 2 feet between beds is about right. Raised vegetable garden beds can be sited on any surface.
Our Garden Planner is a great tool for planning the layout and location of your beds. Use the Rectangle Tool or choose one of the Raised Beds from the selection of Garden Objects to give a more realistic look. Beds can be resized using the corner ‘handles’ and are easily copied and pasted as required. With the raised vegetable garden beds laid out, you can add your crops and even plan the layout of drip irrigation.
Consider these three options when building raised beds from wood.
1. Treated wood. Pressure- or dip-treated wood will last a long time, but many gardeners prefer to choose more environmentally friendly alternatives derived from natural products.
2. Durable woods. Woods such as cedar and larch are naturally durable. They are relatively costly, but will last for many years.
3. Thicker boards. Two-inch thick wood will last much longer than thinner boards.
To build your raised bed, use decking screws to join pre-cut planks. Either overlap the planks by screwing through one board into the end of another, or screw the boards into wooden corner posts. Either way, your raised bed will be easier to build if you pre-drill holes in the outer board to one size smaller than the screw diameter.
Fill your raised vegetable garden beds with a nutrient-rich mix of homemade compost or potting and topsoil. With the right mix, additional fertilizer shouldn’t be needed — just top it off with compost or potting soil once or twice a year.
Learn more about how to build raised beds in this video.
More Gardening Resources
Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.
Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.
Watch more videos on gardening techniques and other self-reliance, DIY topics on our Wiser Living Videos page.
Rebecca Martin is an Associate Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, where her beats include DIY and Green Transportation. She's an avid cyclist and has never met a vegetable she didn't like. You can find her on Google+.