How to Build Simple Raised Garden Beds

We’ve decided to try some raised bed gardens this year, which I think is pretty brave of me. You know. Considering my long-running and well documented propensity to kill absolutely everything that I try to grow. They are not cheap, they are not easy, but they are very, very simple. (There’s just a lot of hot, heavy hauling and grunt-work to get them set up.)

Here’s the before shot.

Before: a patch of patchy lawn.

Our lawn is not particularly attractive, and the only part of the property where we have BOTH sunshine AND flat ground is in the front yard. We decided to build along the driveway.

Follow along and you, too, can build simple raised garden beds! To make them the way we did…

You Will Need (PER BED):

  • 3 – 2″ x 10″ x 8′ boards*
  • 6 – 40-lb bags topsoil
  • 6 – 40-lb bags peat moss
  • 6 – 40-lb bags compost/manure
  • Newspaper (a lot)
  • 3 big bags woodchips/mulch
  • A drill and 12 long screws

First: Cut one board in half. If you don’t have an appropriate saw for the task, never fear! Lowe’s will cut lumber for you. This leaves you with two 8-foot sections, and two 4-foot sections. Like so:

In progress.

Well, you get the idea.

Assemble the boards into a rectangle with the short pieces overlapping the ends of the long pieces, and secure with three screws in each joint.

I thought the hard part was over.

Next, thickly layer newspaper in the bottom of your bed. This will smother the underlying grass and weeds and prevent them from getting any smart ideas about growing up into the garden. Then you pour in all of your dirt, mixing as you go. (I suppose you could get fancy and mix them in a wheelbarrow before dumping it in, but we don’t have one.)

How to Build Simple Raised Garden Beds

Finally, cover the dirt thickly with mulch. This helps prevent the garden from being colonized by weeds AND it also helps keep the dirt from drying out and blowing off. We’ve already transplanted some starts and planted some seeds, and only time will tell who will live and who will die.

* A Note About Wood: On many websites you will read how you should never, never use pressure treated wood in a raised garden bed because it will leach arsenic into your food, and you should instead buy cedar ($$$) for your garden. Fortunately, wood treated with arsenic was banned a decade ago, so you can now use the cheap wood without fear of poisoning your children. Read more here.

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