Building Raised Beds

There are a variety of reasons to build raised garden beds, from poor soil to creating a more orderly garden space. This is a guide about building raised beds.

wood framed garden bed

March 22, 2016 Flag
2 found this helpful

I live in Tahiti and we have a lot of rain year-round. This can be a problem when it comes to planting flowers or plants in your garden. Therefore, I decided to raise my flower beds so when it rains the water doesn't flood my plants. finished rock wall around flower bed

Unfortunately, when the water drains from the garden it started to erode the dirt in my flower beds and they started to crumble and wash away. In order to stop the erosion and the dirt from washing away, I needed to find a solution for this problem.

I have a river that runs in front of my home. I gathered the rocks from the riverbed and brought them into the garden. I used the rocks to start building a barrier for my flower beds.

Materials needed:

  • small to medium sized rocks
  • wheelbarrow
  • small hand shovel
  • large shovel
  • dirt

Start by digging a small trench along the line of your flower bed. Place a row of medium sized rocks in the trench. Repairing Your Flower Beds


Afterwards, fill the back side of the trench and rocks with dirt. You'll need to pack the dirt down around the rocks to hold them in place.

Continue adding rocks and dirt as you build your rock wall. You're basically stacking the rocks on top of each other. You'll need to find a rock that fits well on top of the bottom rock. Adding dirt to the back of the rocks holds them in place and supports the rock wall. Furthermore, it fills and replaces the dirt in your flower bed that has washed away from the rain. Repairing Your Flower Beds


I continued adding rocks and dirt until I had made a nice rock wall that would protect my plants. Now when it rains the dirt in my flower beds is protected and no longer erodes or washes away. Furthermore, the rock wall flower beds add to the natural look of the garden. Repairing Your Flower Beds Repairing Your Flower Beds

My garden is tropical and has a lot of flowers and plants. I keep the center of the yard open for the animals and walking around. Here on the islands, it's better to have a gravel yard than a yard with a lawn. Around my garden I have different areas that I have built raised rock flower beds.

Repairing Your Flower Beds
Anonymous Flag
April 23, 20160 found this helpful

very nice!

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May 14, 20160 found this helpful

March 4, 2011 Flag
8 found this helpful

Raised Garden BedThere are several advantages to using raised beds when gardening. They provide excellent drainage, warm soil earlier in the spring, prevent soil compaction, maximize yields in a minimum amount of space, and for gardeners with limited mobility, they can be built to any height. Perhaps best of all, raised beds also keep your garden looking neat and tidy.

Gathering Your Supplies

Materials you will need:

Determining Size

Length & Width: A convenient size is 4 x 4-foot box, because lumber is readily available in 4-foot lengths. This also allows you easy access to the center of your beds from either side. Set the beds end to end to create larger gardens (4 x 8-foot or 4 x 12-foot, etc.) or arrange them in interesting patterns. If you are planting vegetables, building 3 to 4 raised beds of this size will allow for adequate crop rotation. If the bed will be positioned against a wall or fence (accessible only by three sides), limit the width to 2-3 feet so you can easily reach the plants growing in back.

Depth: Most plants need at least a 6-12 inch root zone, so your boxes should be at least 12 inches deep to allow plenty of room for roots. Using 12-inch wide lumber to construct the boxes makes this easy.

Constructing the Box

Construct your beds on a firm, flat surface (e.g. driveway, patio, or garage floor). Set the boards up on their sides and nail the ends together to create a box. Use 4 to 5 nails on each board in an off-set pattern to help prevent the wood from splitting. If you're doing this project alone, it's helpful to brace one board against a wall to hold it steady while you pound in the nails.

Optional: If you line the bottom of a raised bed with chicken wire, you can easily control gophers and other marauding rodents. Cut a piece of chicken wire/hardware cloth so it's a few inches larger than the inside dimensions of your box. Lay the wire inside of the box. Bend the excess wire up the inside walls and use a staple gun to attach it securely it to the box.

Tips for Positioning the Box

Preparing the Box for Planting

Use a sharp spade to loosen up the top few inches of soil at the bottom of the box. This will help ensure good drainage. Fill the beds with equal parts of compost, topsoil, and well-rotted manure. Water well. Allow a few days to a week for settling to occur and add extra soil if necessary.

March 4, 20110 found this helpful

In a 2 months I am moving out of city to home with a big garden. I am looking forward to planting and starting my vegetable garden. I love the idea of adding a chicken wire to the bottom of the box that I am planning to make myself. Great idea, thanks for sharing that.

I just registered with this site hoping to find some good tips and I got it right away. I'm so pleased I find it. :-) Thanks again.

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December 26, 20120 found this helpful

April 15, 2011 Flag
0 found this helpful

This year I want to try raised beds in my garden, but I don't want to spend any money on purchasing the wood necessary to make them, plus all the work involved. So I came up with this idea - why not use cardboard boxes from the grocery stores?

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May 31, 2009 Flag
5 found this helpful

How I made a raised garden out of cardboard boxes, a tub from an old washer and some lumber on top of my driveway. I had to haul in a pick-up load of dirt.

Raised Veggie Garden

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April 9, 2012 Flag
1 found this helpful

We were able to put these two 4 foot square raised garden beds together this weekend. It was an easy project for the kids to help with; and they will be able to plant whatever they want in them this spring.

The best part about assembling them in this way is that there is no real need for precision. If you drill the holes off by a bit or a couple of the boards aren't exactly 4 feet long, it isn't a big deal. The bed will still be plenty stable and hold enough dirt to make a great garden plot.

Making the garden beds 4 feet square would work well for anyone utilizing the square foot gardening method. They are easy to reach across and tall enough that they are more comfortable to work in than a shorter bed.


This is what you will need to put together one 4x4 foot garden bed. Garden Bed Supplies

Total spent for 4 garden beds:

Total = $207.65 or $51.91 per garden bed


  1. Cut your boards down to the proper length. The 4x4s are 24 inches and the 2x10s are 48 inches.
  2. I bought the lumber at Home Depot, and they will cut it down to size for free. They used to charge $1 per cut, but seem to have stopped doing that. I am not sure if that is a national policy or just local, but it sure saved me a lot of time and money.
  3. The longer boards tend to be cheaper per linear foot. So, for the 2x10s we purchased 12 foot boards and had them cut into thirds, making them all basically 4 feet long.

    Thrifty Tip: Check the bargain wood bin that is usually back by the cutting center. We found a bunch of four foot pressure treated 4x4s, that they were just getting ready to mark as discounted. They marked each as $4.01 then cut them down into the 2 foot sections we needed.

    When I got to the cashier though, I noticed the 8 foot pressure treat 4x4s were $7.97 each, thus making my wood from the bargain bin more expensive. It was only $.04 a board, but I still asked the cashier how something from the bargain bin would cost more. She agreed with me and cut the price to $2.01 each. So all told, I got sixteen 2 foot long pressure treated 4x4s for about a dollar a piece ($16.08). Now that's a bargain!

  4. Measure 2 inches in from one end of the board on all of the 2x10s and mark them there. This is where the screws will line up with the center of the 4x4s from the end of the 2x10.
  5. Marking Board at 2 Inches

  6. Measure 3.5 inches in from the opposite end on all of the 2x10s and mark them there. This is where the screws will line up with the center of the 4x4s when it is butted up against the other 2x10.
  7. Marking Board at 3.5 Inches

  8. At the 2 inch and 3.5 inch marks, measure across the board and mark it at 3 inches and 7 inches on both ends.
  9. Marking Board at 3 Inches Marking Board at 7 Inches

  10. Pre-drill the 4 marked spots on each board with a bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the screws you will be using.
  11. Drilling Holes

  12. At each of the 4 holes, use a 3/4 inch boring bit to create a counter sink for the washer and screw head.
  13. Drilling Counter Sink Close up of Counter Sink

  14. Stain the 2x10s with a wood sealant. Be sure to soak the screw holes and end of the boards well. I like the natural wood look so I used a light stain to bring out the natural color of the douglas fir panels. This step is not 100% necessary, but it will make your garden bed last much longer.
  15. Staining Wood Panels of Garden Bed

  16. When the stain has had a chance to soak in on the first side, flip the board over and stain the second side.
  17. Boy Helping Stain Panels

  18. Since I had managed to get pressure treated 4x4s, I only stained the cut ends on those boards. So if you have regular 4x4s, you should stain those at this time as well.
  19. Stained Panels Drying

  20. Once the stain is dry, you are ready to assemble. These beds will be heavy, so assembling them near their final destination will save you some backache.
  21. Two Stained Boards Drying

  22. Start by putting whatever is the ugliest end (there is always an ugly end) of one of the 4x4s facing upward, as this is the part that will be in the ground and not visible later.
  23. Next, line up the end of the 2x10 with the holes drilled at two inches in and square it up with the edges of the 4x4. The easiest way to do this is to lay the two 4x4s on the ground and then lay the 2x10 on top of it.
  24. Lining up End of Board

  25. Drive the screw, with washer, into the 4x4 through the holes you pre-drilled.
  26. Drilling First Panel

  27. Putting together all four corners as pictured below was easiest and fastest way we found to put these beds together.
  28. Assembled First Corner

  29. Once you have all the 4x4s attached so they are flush on the end of the 2x10s, the 3.5 inch ends will all line up with the 4x4 on the other side. Assemble the 4 pieces into a square and you are done with the hard part.
  30. First Level of Panels

  31. To add stability to the structure, you can offset the first board of the second level. This way, the end with the holes drilled at two inches lines up with the edge of a 4x4 that was attached at 3.5 inches on the first level. However, it is plenty sturdy if you don't wish to offset them. See photo below.
  32. Attaching Second Level on Panels

  33. Once all the boards are attached, flip it over and you are ready to put it in place!
  34. One Completed Garden Bed

We purchased enough lumber to put four of these beds in our front yard. As you can see, the first two came together very easily in 1 day. I will write an update next week when I have them all ready to fill with soil.

Two Completed Garden Beds

By Jess from Hillsboro, OR

July 6, 20140 found this helpful

First off I have a question, why is your raised bed raised off the ground? Next, one should never use pressure treated wood or an oil based stain on any wood that you might grow vegetables in. They both contain poisons and it will leach into the soil and then to the vegetables. Thanks but no thanks, if you wanted longevity, better to have made it with redwood, cedar or Trex. Even cement blocks work great.

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March 16, 20150 found this helpful

September 7, 2016 Flag
0 found this helpful

This is a guide about making a raised be vegetable garden. There are a number of ways you can create a very successful raised vegetable garden, whether you build with new materials or use recycled items.

Several raised garden beds full of lush plants

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June 23, 2005 Flag
1 found this helpful

If your ground is solid rock, the best way to raise veggies is in a raised bed. My husband built a raised bed garden this year. The "blocks that hold the garden together are, believe it or not, Styrofoam. This was salvaged from boat docks a few years ago when they banned its use in the local lakes.

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June 21, 2013 Flag
2 found this helpful

I thought I came up with it all by myself and that it was terribly original, but after patting myself on the back for months, my permaculture book has informed me that this wonderful, free-to-the-point-they-may-pay-you-to-haul-it-off building material is called "urbanite".

Urbanite Raised Garden Beds

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January 29, 2012 Flag
1 found this helpful

Small raised garden beds save energy, water, and growing medium! Looking for ways to conserve energy and not dig more than I have to, I covered a large rectangular area with old garden cloth, large pieces of corrugated cardboard, etc.

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February 8, 2007 Flag
0 found this helpful

If you're short on space or the soil in your area is riddled by sand or clay, building raised beds may be the best solution to your gardening woes. You'll trade the time, money and effort required amending poor quality soil for maximum yields in a minimum amount of space.

Easy Raised Bed

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October 9, 2008 Flag
0 found this helpful

This idea is very old, my grandmother used to have straw bale gardens. It was great for her not to have to stoop over to pick and weed her garden.

Straw Bales For Gardening

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November 20, 2008 Flag

We made a 30x20 foot garden in our back yard with plastic and cement blocks. You do not have to remove grass. Put down plastic or a thick layer of news papers, and place cement blocks on top around the edge of the space.

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August 19, 2011 Flag

I love my raised beds. It helps keep different gardens separated and makes it easier to keep weeds out. They can be watered separately, depending on what you are growing in them.

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January 31, 2008 Flag
0 found this helpful

I landscape on an angle from the house. I will make a three level planter; the first level is 8 feet wide and long, the sides are white rock or, preferably, pressure treated wood.

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