DIY Raised Garden Beds

For our first year, we decided to build raised beds for a small, varied garden. Our soil was horrid when we moved in, and most of it still is. Some of still won’t even grow grass or weeds, let alone sustain vegetables. Not to mention it’s hard as a rock and impossible to break up by hand since we don’t have a tiller. I have a new found respect for those pioneers who traveled west and broke the untamed ground by hand or with horses and plows. You have to be of extremely hearty stock to be able to do that. With that said, we’re total wimps. We took one look at it and said, “Nope!”

Raised garden beds became our choice. And then there came the decisions of what to build them from. The possibilities were seemingly endless, each with its own pro and con list. We thought of corrugated tin, but the edges would be extremely sharp and we were worried about moisture and mold since we have such humid weather in Georgia. We thought about cheap pallet wood, but being exposed to the elements and constant watering, we’d likely have to rebuild them in a year or two. Concrete blocks? That gets pricey. REALLY pricey. We settled on pressure-treated wood.

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My husband, the king of overbuilding everything, set to work. I gave him the dimensions and let him have at it. After that, I was following his instructions.

He came home with 15 – 2″x8″x8′ long boards, a box of 3″ deck screws, a box of 3 1/2″ deck screws, and 4 bags of manure. All of this in my tiny Jeep Liberty.

Construction was fairly simple. For each bed, we used 4 – 8′ long boards, 4 – 4′ long boards, and 6 – 2′ long boards. There really wasn’t a whole lot of cutting and the process went quickly.

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We built two 4’x8′ frames with the shorter pieces sandwiched in between the longer pieces, and then stacked them on top of one another to achieve our depth. To build the frames, we used the 3 1/2″ deck screws to make sure those buggers wouldn’t wiggle or come apart.

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Here you can see what I mean by two frames built separately and then stacked. These turned out wonderfully!

The 2′ piece went on the corners and one on each side in the middle to brace the long sides. These pieces held the frames together and also staked the whole thing to the ground. We used the 3″ screws for these pieces. They didn’t pop through the wood on the other side. If you’re klutzy like me, the last thing you want is to be digging up carrots and forget there are sharp screws poking through!

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When you put the legs on, the whole bed will be upside down as you can see from this picture. After you dig the holes and flip the beds, that extra part of the leg will fit perfectly in the hole.

With bright orange marking paint, we marked where our posts were to go in the ground, and Mr. Cozy Cottage dug them out with postholers.

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The beds were quite heavy by this point, so it took both of us to lift them and set them into the holes. Then we just filled the holes back in, and any leftover dump just got scooped into the bed.

He contacted a good topsoil guy who was literally half a mile from our home and ordered half a dump truck load of the prettiest black and nutrient rich dirt you’d ever seen. It was dropped off that afternoon, and we started to fill them up.

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It took nearly the whole pile of dirt and several back-and-forth trips with the lawn tractor and garden cart, but we got it done. We also mixed in 2 bags of manure per bed. The top soil we received was pretty full of nutrients, but it never hurts to have good fertilizer.

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2 days later, I planted our first garden. It looks pretty sparse right now since most of it was direct-sow and we definitely could not afford to buy plants of everything.

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They look a little puny right now, but I had purchased them the day before and returned home too late to plant. So they’d gotten a little dehydrated before I could get them in the ground. They’ve perked up since and are very happy plants!

They are approximately 16″ deep, which is the perfect depth for root veggies and the perfect height for me to not break my back while tending. We will later add stakes for the tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers, but we’ve got quite a while for them to grow.

I would love to see what bed ideas you’ve done for your own gardens! I’m always looking for new projects to hand over to Mr. Cozy Cottage. 😉

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