My husband Lars built a raised garden bed for me one weekend three years ago. It was one of the best gifts he ever gave me. Besides supplying vegetables almost year-round, the garden has become my favorite retreat.
Here in Florida, you can build a raised garden bed in February and be ready for spring gardening by March. After building four beds — two for us and two for friends — here is how Lars recommends you build one:
The most important decision is choosing the right location. It should be in a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sun every day, year-round, in a well-watered area. We had such a spot in the backyard. And we had enough room to add more beds, paths and shrubs.
Lars wanted to make the raised bed attractive as well as functional. He scoped out lumber at Home Depot and chose pressure-treated landscape timbers 4” x 4” by 8′ long. We both liked the finished look. He decided to make our first bed 8 timbers high to spare my back, but you can make it much lower if you want to save money.
Two years later, when Lars made similar garden beds for our friends Kathy and Mark, he found it easier to make the bed 7 timbers high. Here is what you would need to make a 4′ x 8′ rectangular raised bed stacked 7 timbers high:
- 21 pressure-treated landscape timbers, 4” x 4” x 8′ long
- 16 12-inch galvanized steel spikes
- table saw (hand saw also will work)
- silicone spray
- Standard drill with 18 1/2-inch wood-boring drill bit (take your spike with you to ensure a match)
- hand-held sledge hammer
After shopping for supplies, remove the grass down to the dirt where you will lay the timbers. Use a level and rake to even the dirt and compact it. Cut 7 timbers in half to make the 14 end pieces. It’s helpful to have an assistant help you stack the timbers, drill the holes and pound the spikes into place.
Next, stack your timbers 4 high all the way around. You want to intersect the timbers to create stronger corners (See picture).
Lars recommends you drill each hole and pound the spike one at a time at each corner before moving onto the next corner. Before pounding the 12-inch spikes into the holes, spray both with silicone. After doing all four corners, drill holes in the middle of each side and pound spikes there for extra stability. Your bed will be half-way made.
Next, stack and intersect three layers of timber, driving the 12-inch spikes into the corners and middle of the sides again. After it’s complete, drill some horizontal holes at the base timbers to let water drain.
Several hours later, your new raised garden will be ready for dirt and plants.
If you have a picture of your own raised garden that you would like to share on this blog, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are many styles and ways to build raised beds, and I would like to see what others have built.
Update: Friend Alan Schmadkte builds one from these plans and makes some adjustments for his garden. Check out his guest post here, Raised Garden Bed Plans Useful for Fall Planting.
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