TUTORIAL: How To Build Raised Garden Beds

I haven’t done a tutorial in a long time and I’m incredibly excited about this one. It wasn’t too expensive, especially when you factor in the longevity that these will have (which I hope is very long).

Jake and I have wanted to build raised garden beds for years. It’s one of those projects that we forget to prioritize until planting season has come and gone. But this year we were both standing firm in our plans to build them.

As with all projects, they don’t come and go without a few bumps. You can read all about how I mega goofed up some calculations more than once during this project on this blog post.

We were able to buy and build these beds over the course of two weekends — buying the supplies one weekend and then building them the next. The building of them is easy; the filling-with-soil part is more difficult and arduous.

SUPPLIES (for 3x6x1 foot beds)

2x12x12 common boards — each bed requires 1.5 boards
Deck screws
Impact driver
Level – preferably 3′, but not necessary to have that long
Tape measure
Weatherproofing agent (if not using pre-treated boards)
Rollers/naps or paint brush for weatherproofing
Wheel barrow
Shovel
Chop saw
Topsoil/compost/garden soil

HOW WE DID IT

Like I said, building it was decently easy. We decided on making our beds 3x6x1′ so that we could buy 12′ boards. We got them cut in half into 6′ pieces at Home Depot. They will do up to 3 cuts for free on one board. Then we could cut a few in half for the ends of the beds.

The following weekend, we began constructing everything. I waterproofed the boards first using an opaque weatherproofing agent. Be sure to apply it to all edges of the boards to prevent future warping and weathering from being exposed to the elements year-round.

I used this waterproofer because I found it at Home Depot in the oops paint section for $31! It was normally $161! One gallon of this stuff is over $31, so I figured.. why not?! I shared some with my friends who live nearby and are also building a few beds like ours. So it’s not going to waste.

As I have said before, I always have a very professional workspace when staining or painting things outdoors. My favorite these-were-left-in-the-house-when-we-bought-it garbage cans! Notice the nicks on the top from when we use the circular saw to cut things on top of these.

Jake screwed the beds together while I did what’s called double-digging. I didn’t do this exactly correct because our ground simply will not allow for me to dig to the recommended depth — we live in Tennessee and our ground is about 6-8″ of soil on top of clay or bed rock — but digging below your beds is still beneficial! It allows the roots to go deeper into the ground when they’re growing. Even if you dig up the top layer of earth and loosen the soil underneath the beds, that’s a good way to go.

In order to do this mostly proper, I measured the sizes of the beds and marked where they were going with some spray paint.

Once the plots for the beds were marked and dug up, we placed the bed frames in. This part is a little bit trial-and-error because you want to make sure they’re level so you don’t wind up with pooling and runoff when it rains or when you’re watering your garden. We simply placed the beds in, checked how level they were, and either dug more out or put soil back depending on what we found.


Since we were putting in multiple beds, we wanted them to be attached to each other in a row. So we repeated this leveling process, checking how level it was before and after screwing one bed into another. This isn’t necessary but I think it makes them look more uniform when the tops are all the same height. It gives them a cleaner, more refined appearance.

We ordered soil from a local soil company. They were super informative over the phone during the ordering process and helped me choose the soil that would be best for our project and the most cost-effective. We have compost from our compost bin that we plan to add in within the next few weeks before we officially plant anything, but this soil company offered a compost mix soil if we wanted. If you don’t have a compost bin at your disposal, this is an awesome option to have!

We had the soil delivered on the day we began constructing the beds. This way, we wouldn’t have to sacrifice driveway space for too long since the dump truck generally has to put it somewhere like that on your property. Especially if it can’t get into your yard due to obstruction of some sort; in our case, that obstruction is our fence.

Like I said, filling the beds with soil is an incredibly arduous task. Thank god I had Jake doing a lot of this with me because it was a ton of soil. Way more than you think! And it’s more than likely going to be wet-ish, so it’s heavy to boot.

And then the beds were complete! As you can tell, I am going to have to continue to break up the soil before we plant anything. We were so exhausted by the end of the day both days — I highly recommend sitting on the couch and eating pizza after a long day of work.

I will definitely keep you all updated on what we decide to plant in here and how all of that goes. We’ve never planted a veggie garden so I have absolutely no experience there, but I have do grow a cut flower garden from seed every year.

In Tennessee, planting season begins in March which is very soon! I’ll have to keep an eye on temperatures before I officially plant anything since I don’t usually start seeds indoors. But I’ll dedicate a future blog post or two to the veggies and flowers I plant.

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