Complete Guide to Making Raised Beds for Your Garden

by Alex ThatcherApril 27, 2016

Making Time to Work in Your Garden

Raised beds (or planter boxes) are all the rage right now in gardening, and it’s easy to see why. They offer a contained space for your garden, great drainage for your plants, and extra protection from a variety of nasty garden pests. With a few tools and some basic skills, you can finish a project like this in one day, and have your garden planted by the end of the weekend.

So where do you start? Why not right here? Follow our simple steps to making raised beds for your home garden, and get those seeds in the ground before the weekend is over.
Woman gardener watering the flowers in her garden in summer

Tools You Will Need to Build Raised Garden Beds

  • Drill
  • 5/32 Drill Bit
  • Phillips head driver bit
  • Pencil
  • Gloves
  • Level
  • Spade shovel
  • Hard rake

Materials for Raised Garden Beds

For lumber, a wood like Douglas Fir or Redwood is best. Do not use pressure treated lumber.

  • Four 16-inch-long 4x4s
  • Two 4-foot-long 2x12s
  • Two 8-foot-long 2x12s
  • Twenty-four 3 1/2-inch wood screws
  • 16 cubic feet of planting soil
  • 16 cubic feet of compost

Optional Materials

  • 36 square feet of hardware cloth or gopher wire
  • Scissors
  • Staple Gun

Build Your Planter Boxes in One Trip to the Store

At this point, your biggest goal should be to accomplish all of this in just one trip to the store. After all, nothing derails a home and garden project faster than having to turn around and go right back to where you started. Start by making a list of everything you’ll need, and when you’re walking around the hardware store, check items off as you go. If you can get everything home in one trip, then half the battle is won. Also, make things easier on yourself and have the lumber yard or home improvement store cut your lumber for you; this will save you time and negate the need for a saw. Choose flat and straight lumber without splits or cracks, specifically near the ends.
A female rottweiler strikes a pose in the sun next to a garden growing in raised beds.

Getting Started on Your Raised Bed

Once home, get everything laid out and organized. Then choose a flat spot in the yard or patio and get started. Start in the corners with the 4×4’s. Standing one vertically, hold a 4’ long 2”x12” against its side. Make sure the edge is flush and pre-drill 3 holes at equal distances down the side of the 2”x12”. If you do not pre-drill, you will likely split the wood. Use the Phillips head driver bit to screw the header into the 4”x4”.

Now start on the side piece. Again, pre-drill the holes with the 5/32” bit. This time though, instead of screwing into the 4”x4”, screw into the end of the 4’ cap. Remember that the 4”x4”’s are serving as the feet, and you are building the planter upside down.Repeat the technique on the other side. Secure the 4’ end piece to the leg, and then the 8’ piece to the end cap. Now, using the pre-drill technique, secure both corners to one another to complete the rectangle. Voila, you now have a planter box!
raised vegetable beds in the morning watering time
Choose an area of the yard that has at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, and commandeer a friend or neighbor to help put the planter into place. Use the spade shovel to dig 4” deep holes for the feet. Aim for level ground, as a planter that’s built on a slight slope will still function but will not irrigate as well as one on flat ground. Fill the holes and tamp down the soil around the feet.

Keep the Moles and Gophers Out!

Once you get to this stage, you are essentially done. If your area is known for gophers and moles, you may want to consider using hardware cloth or gopher wire to form a barrier between the box and the ground below. Drape the cloth along the inside and lay it on flattened soil. Use a staple gun to secure it along the inside of the box, paying close attention to the corners. Trim off any extra with scissors or a utility knife.

Add the Soil to Your New Raised Beds

It’s almost time to plane! The last step is to add the soil and compost to the beds. Sometimes it’s easiest to mix the bags in the box itself. To do this, fill the box, mixing regularly until you achieve a nice 50/50 blend. Use a rake to smooth out the surface and give the whole thing a quick spray with the hose. Your planter box is now ready for growing. Happy Gardening!


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About The Author
Alex Thatcher
Alex is a home staging guru who moonlights as a writer. She loves everything about interior design and loves working in the industry. Alex is an expert in finding what makes people light up when they walk into a room, and has made a living by creating interiors that are unique, warm and inviting. When she isn't arranging flowers or making sure she's found the right loveseat for prospective buyers, she writes about her passion — home design.

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