How to Build the Best Raised Bed

If you are building a raised bed for your garden I will provide you with details on How to Build the Best Raised Bed and make it as easy as possible.

I will provide the materials needed and specific details on how to build the raised garden box to grow the best garden possible.

When clearing the area for the raised beds be sure to make them larger so that you can keep the grass from growing into the beds which will save you a lot of time down the road weeding the area

Before you decide How to Build the Best Raised Bed you need to pick the Location

The first decision is where the boxes will be located to know how many materials you will need to purchase.  To help you select the location you need to find the sunniest locations in your yard, preferably where they will receive 6-8 hours of direct sun or more.

Measure out the area to determine the size of each box and the number of boxes you will build.

Sizes of Boxes

Box sizes are typically 4 x 4, or 4 x 8, this is so that you can reach into the boxes from either side and reach the center of the planting area.  The depth of the boxes is determined by the size of the materials you use.  Typically for the best growing conditions, a depth of 12 or 24 inches will be needed.

Prepping Raised Bed Area

Clear the area where you will locate your raised bed, if you have grass growing in the area you should use a sod cutter to remove the top layer of sod including the roots.  The other option is to dig the area out with a shovel approximately 6 inches down to get the roots and sod out.

Once you have cleared the area you will need to either till or turn the soil another 6-12 inches down to loosen and break the soil up.

After completing this you need to rake the area removing roots and rocks and other debris.

Do not use chemicals to kill the grass or weeds since this will remain in the soil and leach into your vegetable garden bed.

Amending the Soil

To provide your garden with the best nutrients you should test your soil to know what you need to add.  Most garden product companies will have a balanced organic soil to blend into your soil that is made specifically for garden vegetables.

Be sure to use galvanized nails, screws or bolts that will not rust and deteriorate.  Use wood like redwood or cedar that will not leach harmful chemicals into your garden.

Determine Materials for Raised Bed

Raised bed without border material

The first option is not to use anything for the border but to build the soil for the bed up raising the level up for a raised garden bed.  The best way to do this is till the area and pull the soil in towards the center building up the area designated for the raised bed.

These beds can be built to any size but are best when kept to no wider than 4′ to allow easy access to weed and harvest.

Pros

There is no cost for materials and no time needed to build a structure to place in the bed.  A tiller can be used each year to turn the soil reducing the work by hand.

Cons

There is no defined area for the bed to keep children and pets from disturbing the garden.

The look is not as finished as a box defining the areas.

How to Build the Best Raised Bed out of Wood 

The best wood for building the frame is cedar or redwood which will last longer by not rotting and will not leach into the box with toxic matter.

Typically these are either 4′ x 4′ x 12″ or 4′ x 8′ x 12″ dimensions which allow you to weed and harvest easily.

Pros

The boxes define the area for your garden bed preventing pets and children from disturbing the area and giving the bed a finished look.

The beds are raised taller allowing easier access to beds for weeding and harvesting.

Cons

The materials can add cost and time to build them depending on the materials used.

The bed area cannot be accessed by a tiller which will mean you will need to turn the soil by hand with a shovel.

The wood used will deteriorate over time needing to be replaced after approximately 10 years.

Cement or Stone blocks

Using cement blocks like this one is an easy way to build a raised bed that will last forever.  They can be made to whatever size you wish and depth.  You can purchase blocks at most home centers or construction stores.

Pros

They will never need to be replaced.

The stones can be made to whatever size you wish and provide a very finished look to your garden bed.

The raised beds can be made taller to make it easier to weed and harvest your garden.

Cons

They are one of the more expensive raised beds to build and will take a lot of physical labor to build them.  You cannot rototill these beds very easily so you will weed and turn the soil by hand.

How to Build the Best Raised Bed out of Metal

Galvanized steel can be used to make a bed to the dimensions you wish.  They can be combined with wood to add a finished look.

Pros

Defined area for the garden bed to prevent pets and children from disturbing the area.

You can build these higher than 12″ which makes it easier to weed and harvest since most materials are in sheets larger than 12″.

Metal gives the boxes a finished look that is more appealing.

Cons

The galvanized metal will deteriorate over time allowing the leaching of chemicals into the soil.

You will not be able to use a tiller to turn the soil.

Galvanized Water Trough

This material is premade and available in many garden centers for use as a garden bed.

Pros

There is no prep time to build the boxes since they are pre-built.

They provide a finished look to your yard and can be moved if soil is removed in future years.

The troughs are deeper than 12″ so they are easier to weed and harvest.

Cons

Cost can add up depending on how many you wish to use.

They are smaller than 4′ wide and 8′ long so you will not be able to have a large garden.

The galvanized material will leach chemicals into the soil over years of use.

You cannot use a tiller so you will need to turn the soil by hand.

Black Basket material

Soft POTS (25 Gallon) Aeration Garden Pots and Grow Bags. Made of Thicker Material with Industrial Sewn Handles for Easy Moving. Grow Healthier Tomatoes and Herbs.

These baskets can be purchased at most garden centers to be used throughout the yard with little prep time.

Pros

They can be filled quickly with organic garden soil and placed anywhere in the yard.

The baskets can be moved easily if you want to place in a different place in your yard.

No time to build or prep the area for the baskets.

Cons

The baskets are small and will not allow you to have a large garden.

The expense of the baskets can add up if you purchase a lot of them.

Over time they will deteriorate and will need to be replaced.

The look is not as finished as other materials you may decide to use.

Building your Box with Wood

To save money you can use treated lumber and feel safe with knowing it has little impact from leaching see study by Oregon State Extension Service that shows the leaching only occurred within 1″ of the boards and that was far below acceptable levels of copper and no leaching beyond the 1″ towards the center of the boxes.

Once you determine the size of the box you will need to determine the type of wood you will use.  Rough-cut cedar is less expensive in most cases when compared to redwood.

Boards 2″ x 12″ x 8′ or 12′ lengths that will need to be cut down to the correct size.  If you do not have a circular saw you can ask the store to cut them usually for a minimal fee.

Options for connecting the boxes in the order I recommend.

  • cut end pieces to fit together and drill hole through them to attach with 12″ rebar.
  • cut 4″ x 4″ x 12″ corner pieces to nail or screw to connect the corners, screws will last the longest.
  • cement blocks for corners

When selecting your materials for building the raised bed you can either buy kits with all the pieces premade or you can cut your own by purchasing at a lumber store.  By building your own you can save significant money but it will take more time to build your own.

Now that you have learned How to Build the Best Raised Bed you need to choose the one that best fits your needs to start your gardening experience.

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