One of the simplest ways to increase your gardening space is to add small or large raised beds where appropriate on your property. Ideally, you want a spot with at least 6 hours of sun if you intend on growing food there. You also want at least a couple of beds in order to practice good crop rotation.
I have an unusual set up in my backyard in that a large portion is covered by large pecan trees and the other areas are covered by cement. Given this, there are still a few spots I can tuck in another bed or two. These directions are for two 2ft by 4 ft (by 8 inch) raised beds.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Step 1: Purchase
First, you need to purchase the wood. Due to the chemicals associated with pressure treated, the wood available at my local big hardware store and the cost, I opted to untreated pine. It will eventually degrade, but over many years. If you want something more permanent, go with hardwoods.
I purchased three 2 in by 8 inch by 8 ft length pieces of pine. You can bring it home and cut it yourself but some places have a wood cutter that they allow you to employ with the staff to cut it before you even load it up, which is what I did. They made 5 cuts: 2 cuts in 2 of the 8ft for 4ft lengths and 3 cuts in the final piece for four 2 ft lengths.
You will also need soil or supplies to mix a soil you want. And finally any hardware and tools you may need which includes hammer, nails (or drill and decking screws), miter saw or precut wood and braces if desired (I do not have braces on mine).
Step 2: Soil
There are many different soil mixes you can make for your raised beds and many of the big box stores even offer a variety of raised bed mixes. However, in an effort to be as organic as possible, I made my own with a combination of top soil, vermiculite, peat moss and compost. Purchase your soil.
I bought 2 bags 2.0 cubic feet top soil, 4 bags 2.0 cubic feet compost, one bag 3.0 cubic feet peat moss and 1 bag 2.0 cubic feet vermiculite. I mixed them altogether and that was more than enough for two raised beds.
Step 3: Gather tools
You will need hammer and nails or drill and decking screws. I used 3 inch decking screws which come with the appropriate drill bit to be able to use the decking screws. You can use a hammer and nails, but holding the wood in place while you hammer is more difficult without a partner or clamps.
I constructed these two beds almost entirely by myself as my husband was not at home and I don’t have clamps. I did employ a couple of little helpers. They were very good at helping mix the soil!
Step 4: Construct beds
Line up where you want the pieces to fit. For example, if you want the 2 ft lengths to be between the 4 ft lengths, then do that and make sure you have enough. By doing this, the inside dimensions of your bed are actually 2ft by 3 ft 8 inches because of the 2 inch width of the boards. You can also use them more as bookends at the end of the 4 ft length, making the beds 4 ft by 1 ft 8 inches. Either way works, it just depends on your space.
Once you’ve lined them up you can predrill a very small hole with a 1/16th in drill bit but you don’t have to. If you do this, this can help the decking screw go in much smoother and you won’t risk splitting the wood. This is particularly important if you are using hardwood which is not as flexible as soft pine.
I usually just eyeball where the screw should go and give it a whirl. If you are not as comfortable than just measure about 1 inch to find the center of the board and measure up 3 inches and 5 inches from the based of the 8 inch side to get your screw placement. Mark with a pencil. Then pre-drill your holes. Screw in the decking screws. Repeat on the opposite side and then the other end of the bed.
Step 5: Mix Soil
Take out a large tarp or find a large surface you can mix all your soil ingredients together. You can try this in a wheel barrow but mixing can be pretty difficult in any kind of container. With a tarp it is easier to spread, mix and then pick up the remaining when most of the soil has been put away and pour either into more beds or even containers.
I recommend slightly wetting down the different materials, particularly the vermiculite and peat moss, because they are light and can blow away. They can also get into your eyes and on your clothes, so use caution.
I used a big scooping shovel to move all the new soil into the beds. It helps pick up a lot without being too difficult to handle. You can use a regular shovel if nothing like that is available.
That’s it! It is pretty simply and only took me about an hour to assemble (plus about 45 minutes to shop). I lightly watered the beds at the end and did not plant anything for another week to give the soil time to settle.
Good luck! Let me know how yours turns out!
Pin for later:
You can find me and others at the hop!