How to Make a Raised Garden Bed

woman tending to her vegetables after learning how to make a raised garden bed

A raised garden bed solves many problems associated with typical gardens. Whether your reason for choosing a raised bed style is because of poor soil, lack of space, or simply to avoid weeds, you’ll need a few more supplies and a different approach to build your new garden. This complete guide will help you gather the right supplies, build a quality frame, and learn exactly how to make a raised garden bed.

Choosing the Best Location for Your Raised Garden Bed

The location of your raised garden bed will be determined by the details of your landscape, the size of your garden, and what you plan to grow. Many flowers, vegetables, and herbs require several hours of sunlight every day. However, if you hope to build a garden to decorate a shady spot on your landscape, the right plants will thrive there, too.

If you’re changing your entire landscape, you’ll be starting with a clean slate and can make your garden location a priority. Most often, a garden is built into an existing scheme, making your choices more limited. Before you commit yourself to a certain space, take the time to learn everything you can about the plants you intend to put in your garden. When you’re satisfied with the spot, get out your measuring tape to plan the size and details of how to make your raised garden bed.

Can you build a raised garden bed on a slope?

Yes. Although it’s easier to build your garden on flat ground, raised garden beds can be created on an incline, as well.

Learning how to make a raised garden bed on an incline simply requires a little creative thinking and a little extra elbow grease. Raised beds on sloping ground are typically created in a “retaining wall” style to create level beds that step down the hillside. They are often more narrow, step down in tiers, and can be very attractive. Your choice of plants won’t be limited in these beds, but ground prep might take a little more effort. You’ll also need extra supplies if you plan to create multiple beds.

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Raised Garden Bed Supplies

There are a variety of factors to consider when planning a supply list for your raised garden bed. Size does matter when it comes to the amount of effort you’ll use preparing the ground. A larger bed also requires extra building supplies, more reinforcements, and potentially more effort to build. A deep garden bed is great for planting root vegetables, like carrots, but requires more soil. Determine your bed’s location, finished size, and details before you shop for supplies.

Tools for How to Make a Raised Garden Bed

  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Hoe and/or shovel
  • Carpenter pencils
  • Tape measure
  • Square

Materials for How to Make a Raised Garden Bed

  • Boards
  • Wood screws or nails
  • Landscaping Fabric
  • Soil
  • Plants

Pro Tip

Ask an associate in your local garden store about raised garden bed kits that will provide all the materials you need for your frame in one handy box.

What type of wood should I use for a raised garden bed?

Several types of wood can be used for raised beds. Cost and how long the boards will last will likely influence your decision.

A raised garden bed can be built with wood, bricks, or blocks. Building your frame with boards will likely yield the quickest results. You can use some types of treated lumber, but untreated lumber is the safest choice when planting edibles. Hardwoods typically last longer and resist rot. Some of the longest-lasting wood choices include redwood, cedar, and locust wood. However, these choices are often expensive. If you’re on a budget, hemlock, fir, and pine are suitable options.

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Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make a Raised Garden Bed

When you’ve chosen your location and purchased your supplies, you’re finally ready to get started with your project. Remember to use proper safety techniques to avoid injury. This step-by-step guide will give you all the information you need to know how to make a raised garden bed.

1. Build the Frame

Measure, Mark, and Cut

To prepare the boards to create walls and support posts, begin by measuring and marking the length of the walls and cut the boards. Measure, mark, and cut corner posts the same height as the finished garden bed wall. Support posts can also be added along the walls for extra support. Extra support is often a good idea for longer walls.

Assemble the Walls

Build your walls one at a time. Start by clamping the boards together. For long walls, set the corner posts flush with the ends of the wall. Drill pilot holes, and attach the posts to the boards. Shorter wall assembly is similar, but corner posts should be set back one and a half inches from the wall edge. Attach additional support posts to the walls that need them.

Put the Frame Together

Line up the walls with support posts facing inward. Drill the pilot holes, and attach the walls together with screws to form a box.

Pro Tip — How to make a raised garden bed animal-proof:

If your area is prone to burrowing animals like gophers or groundhogs, staple chicken wire or hardware cloth to the bottom of your frame. It can keep these animals from munching on your veggies.

2. Prepare the Location

It may seem like a good idea to prepare your location before building the bed, but having the complete frame available will provide a blueprint for precise placement. Large beds can be difficult to move alone, so assign a partner to help you move your frame to your garden location.

Outline Your Frame

Set the frame in place and use your shovel blade to outline the box.

Remove Existing Grass and Weeds

Set the bed aside to move weeds and grass where your garden will be placed. This will help your new plants root properly.

Add Landscaping Fabric

Line the bottom of your frame with landscaping fabric to stop future weed growth. Avoid using plastic for this step, since plastic doesn’t allow drainage.

Make the Raised Garden Bed Rot-Resistant

If your wood isn’t rot-resistant, lining the inside of the walls with heavy-duty plastic can help your walls last longer. Staple plastic to the walls for long-lasting coverage.

Pro Tip:

If you’re planning a large garden bed, renting a sod cutter is a quick and efficient way to remove existing grass.

3. Add Soil and Plants

strawberry plants in a sloped garden bed

Fill the Bed

Your raised garden bed may be filled with purchased soil or native soil from your landscape. A mixture of both can also be a healthy option. You can also use pre-mixed potting soils that combine topsoil and compost for optimal drainage and nutrition.

Add Plants

Set your plants in holes just deep enough to cover the roots. Keep the soil loose around plants to allow water to reach the roots.

Can I start my plants from seeds in my raised garden bed?

Yes, but it’s important to remember that seeds need to be started early. If you start your plants from seeds, you may need to take extra measures to keep your growing plants safe. Seeds must be started early and can be heavily affected by the weather. Gardeners often start seeds indoors and gradually get them accustomed to outdoor weather. If you plant seeds directly in your raised bed, consider adding a plastic canopy to protect your plants from late frost.

Pro Tip — How to Make a Raised Garden Bed More Organized:

If you’re planting an herb garden, plant any mint in a separate container. Mint plants have long runners that spread quickly and take over the space of the other plants. Also, plant leafy greens near plants with shade tolerance.

4 Tips for Maintaining Your Raised Garden Bed

  1. Avoid walking on the soil of your raised bed because it compacts the soil. Raised beds can even offer a place to sit while you’re working.
  2. Check and water your plants daily. Morning is the best time to water because less water evaporates due to sunlight.
  3. Use shade cloth to protect plants that can’t handle afternoon sun.
  4. After the plants are established, they need about an inch of water a week.

Gardening is an enjoyable hobby that can save you money, increase your exercise level, and reduce stress. Learning how to make a raised garden bed is a fun do-it-yourself project that can pay off for years to come. Whether you grow vegetables so you can cook at home, or plants and flowers, it’s a great way to add beauty and value to your landscape.

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