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Our family wanted to build a new garden with raised beds this year. We had a lot of people who were willing to help us do it, but I wanted to prove it was a super EASY and QUICK weekend project that required no more than two people to accomplish. Here is our step by step raised garden beds DIY!
We planted our family garden in April, and I wanted to give it a little time, so I can quickly post an update, which will be posted tomorrow.
We built these beds in one weekend, and each box took on average an hour each, maybe a little more for the first one as this was our first time. It was really nice time spent with my husband, while the kids played in the yard behind us. The kids were incredibly involved in helping plant the vegetables, and we have all had so much fun harvesting fruits and veggies from the garden for dinner. It’s been fun going out almost every afternoon to check the garden and play together. However, I didn’t know how much it meant to my older son until about a week ago when his speech therapist asked us, “Does your family have this huge, incredible garden in your backyard? Your son always just wants to talk about all of the many things you’ve planted!” It was a wonderful surprise to hear that he is excited about the garden!
Benefits of Raised Bed Gardens:
First, I should tell you that building a container garden has many benefits over planting directly into the ground. You never have to worry about whether the soil in your yard has too much clay or sand, for the purpose of draining. Raised garden beds drain really well! Because you are using fresh new soil, already full of nutrients, you don’t need to worry about the process of fertilizing the soil in your yard. Because the soil is above ground, it warms more quickly, and many of your plants need the warmth to thrive. Lastly, if you live in an area that has problems with underground visitors (moles, gophers, etc), you can place a wire mesh below the beds to keep them from digging up into your garden.
Choosing Your Wood:
The best type of wood for a raised bed garden is either cedar or redwood. Both will withstand rot, and you can expect at least ten to fifteen years of use with either of these woods. Redwood supposedly lasts much longer, but is more expensive due to limited availability. It might be worth the investment, depending on your family’s needs.
16 planks of wood measuring 2″ X 6″ X 8′, cut in half (they will cut them for you at the hardware store for a very small fee)
16 small planks measuring 2″ X 4″ X 12″
Screws (we used 3″ 7.62 cm)
Electric drill and bits
Level and square
Black plastic mulch
Wood chips mulch, color of your liking
Mesh wire, if desired
Bags of soil (we used approximately 8 bags per raised garden bed)
Find a spot in your yard that gets around 8 to 12 hours of direct sunlight. Measure to ensure that your garden beds will fit in this space.
Set up the wood so that the ends alternate together, to ensure you are getting a perfect square. Place smaller wood in, facing alternate directions. This will help the stability of your box. See the image below, and notice how we overlapped the corners of the wood, alternating each corner. Notice how the shorter pieces also alternate in the direction they are facing.
Begin by using a drillbit that is thinner than the actual screw to make a path for the screw. Make sure your partner is holding the pieces together tightly, but watch the placement of their hands, so no one is injured!
Place screw into hole created and drill.
Make sure you do this process for 6 screws total in each corner: two screws to secure the two long pieces together, and two screws for each long piece to be secured to the short piece.
When you are ready to put on the second layer, make sure you reverse the pattern of how you alternated/laid the wood. As you can see in the next image, where one side is short, we made the top layer long, and on the side that is long, we made short.
You can better see how we alternated the corners in the side view here:
Finished garden bed:
Cover the ground with a black plastic mulch. This will save time in digging up the grass, and prevents the growth of weeds. It is also the foundation for placing your wood chips mulch around your garden beds.
Place your beds, and if desired, place wire mesh under each of the beds to keep rodents out.
Make sure the black plastic mulch is straight and the beds are exactly as you want them.
Fill each bed with several bags of soil. We used approximately 8 bags of soil for each bed.
Use a shovel to break up the dirt clods.
Pre-plan your vegetables in advance. We have made the mistake in years past of over-crowding, and our vegetables didn’t grow as well as they should have due to lack of space. We used an excellent program called GrowVeg.com
If starting early in the spring, you can easily start your plants from seed, but late in the spring, you will want to purchase plant starters from your local nursery. The nursery will be able to help you figure out which plants will grow in your local area, and in which seasons.
Some plants like tomatoes, peas, cucumbers, and green beans require something to climb. We just put in this simple wire fence, and it works great!
Some plants need tons of warmth. These melons especially need it, so we put down more black plastic mulch to help trap the warmth of the sun. Simply cut out holes for the plant to come out of the mulch.
Every day, be sure to bring the kids out to visit the garden! It is an incredible learning opportunity, and they love trying all of the cool things to come out of the garden! Our strawberries especially always go fast!
Be sure to visit BetterBeeDaily.com tomorrow, because I will be posting pictures of how our garden looks just six weeks later! You won’t believe what is growing in our backyard!
UPDATE: Just six weeks later, we had tons of veggies and we were picking them daily! Our watermelons and cantaloupes, once ripe, were the most delicious melons we have ever tasted! I’m telling you, taking the time to build your own garden is worth it! Check out photos from our garden!