How To Build Raised Garden Beds | Easy DIY Design!

by Ashley

Inexpensive DIY Raised Garden Bed Design

Follow this easy tutorial on how to build raised garden beds! This DIY is cheap and will last for years!  The tutorial will give you some great ideas on the best designs and layout.

The Benefits Of Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds are a great way to create an organized garden space, especially when you have limited space for planting a garden.  Building raised garden beds yourself will save you money, and this DIY tutorial will show you exactly how.

The raised garden beds also provide easy drainage, and help keep pests out.  We built 4′ x 8′ raised garden beds and they work GREAT! This tutorial will show you how to build raised garden beds that will last for years.

Ready to build your own raised garden beds? Below is the exact tutorial on how we made ours! (Short on time? Pin this post to reference later!)

How to build Raised Garden Beds tutorial

How To Build Raised Garden Beds

(Affiliate links are provided below for convenience. For more information see my disclosure, here.)

Building Materials & Tools

Update for April 2020: The Home Depot has updated their shipping polices to be more accommodating with home deliveries. Many of their items include free 2 day delivery. They are also offering same day delivery as an option! Now you can stay at home and have lumber and other supplies delivered right to your house. Availability and delivery fees may vary by region.

We chose to use untreated 2″ x 10″ construction lumber to build our raised garden beds. Untreated lumber is cheap, contains no unwanted chemicals, and will last a minimum of 5-10 years depending on the local climate.

You can expect the wood to hold up for 10+ years in dry climates, however, in wet areas it may need to be replaced in as little as 5 years.

Many people chose to build raised garden beds with pressure treated lumber.  While the treated lumber does last longer, it also costs about double! In addition to the added expense, the chemicals used in the pressure treating process can seep into the soil.

We love eating the home grown vegetables grown in our garden, so we used untreated lumber to minimize any risk of contaminating the vegetables with chemicals.

RELATED: How To Install Drip Irrigation In A Raised Garden Bed

A stack of lumber used to build Raised Garden Beds

How To Build Raised Garden Bed Frames

Four feet by eight feet is an easy size for raised garden beds because you can buy 8FT lumber, and it allows for minimal cutting. Only the board for the short side of the frames (4FT) need to be cut. 

The long sides of the frames are 8ft, so we used full length, un-cut 2″ x 10″ x 8FT boards. To make the boards for short sides of the frame, we simply needed to cut a board in half.

To get started, we used a Swanson Speed Square (Amazon) and pencil to mark the boards at 4′. Next, we cut the boards using our favorite Dewalt 60V Circular Saw (Amazon).

If you love Tools & DIY/ home renovation projects, you have to check out my tool guide. It has 17 tools that every DIY’er should own!

17 Must-Have Tools That Every DIY’er Should Own

An overhead view of measuring and marking lumber
Using a speed square to mark 2" x 10" lumber
Man Using A Dewalt circular saw to cut a 2" x 10" board
Using a Dewalt Flexvolt circular saw to cut lumber

We constructed the wood frames on our driveway to make use of the clean, flat work surface. Having a nice work surface makes the project easier, and quicker.

Once the cuts were made, it was time to assemble the raised garden beds! Using a Dewalt 20V Max Drill (Amazon), we fastened the boards together by drilling three 3.5″ construction screws (Amazon) into each corner.

Long construction screws will hold the boards snugly together for the life of the raised garden bed. You can choose to secure the frames together with nails, but they have a tendency to start coming apart after a year or two.

Assembling DIY Raised Garden Beds with a drill for a how to tutorial

Moving & Prepping The Garden Bed Frames

After the raised bed frames were finished, we moved them to their spot in the back yard. The assembled frames aren’t super heavy, but they are a little bit awkward to move. Team work makes this step much easier.

Some gardeners recommend placing cardboard or landscape cloth at the bottom of the raised garden bed frames before filling with soil. This prevents existing plants from growing up through the soil.

This step only seems to be necessary if you’re using shorter frames that don’t hold enough soil to choke out the grass and plants at the bottom. 

To get our beds ready for soil, we used a Dewalt weed trimmer to cut the grass down as short as possible. There’s no need to remove grass and clippings – once buried, they just become compost / fertilizer.

RELATED: How to Build a Rustic DIY Patio Table

Two empty raised garden bed frames sitting in a grassy fenced yard
A raised garden bed frame with grass that has been cut on the inside of the frames

Filling The Raised Garden Beds

We were able to score some free top soil from a friend to fill the raised garden beds. You can usually buy inexpensive top soil at a nursery, or garden supply store if you have a pickup truck to haul it.   You can also buy bagged soil to fill the beds, but it does cost a little bit more.

After doing some gardening research on Better Homes and Gardens, we decided to try to improve the quality of soil by adding bags of All-Purpose Garden Soil Plus Fertilizer from The Home Depot.

The mix is specially blended for the soil in garden beds, and can continuously feed for up to 9 months.  We added 4 bags per raised bed to the top soil.

How much soil does it take to fill a raised garden bed?

A 4ft x 8ft raised garden bed that is 10″ tall has a total volume of 24.22 cubic feet, or .9 cubic yards. I’ve found that the soil in raised garden beds will settle over the first few months, especially when you start watering the garden.

To plan ahead for this settling, make sure to over-fill the beds by a little bit. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t try to compact the soil to prevent settling. This is because soft fluffy soil is perfect for young plants that are trying to grow roots.

RELATED: Small Patio Makeover On A Budget!

A wheel barrow dumping soil into a raised garden bed

(Don’t forget to pin this post to your Garden Ideas board on Pinterest!)

An overhead view looking down on a raised garden bed full of raked soil
Two raised garden beds full of soil ready to be planted

Planting The Garden

After the two beds were filled, it was time for the fun part – planting! I planted all of our favorite vegetables, plus a few flowers, and some lavender. Raised garden beds are perfect for most plants!

For an easy way to get started with your raised vegetable garden, check out this Set of 30 Vegetable & Herb Seeds (Amazon). It has all the varieties you love and they’re all Heirloom and 100% Non-GMO!

Here’s my top picks for vegetable seeds. They are perfect for planting in raised garden beds.

If you’re starting your plants from seed, this heated seed germination station can greatly increase the success of germination. Using this Ankace 40W LED Grow Light can also help a ton!

I used Popsicle sticks and my favorite cheap DYMO embossed label maker from Amazon to make simple, easy labels for my plants.

Popsicle sticks used as garden crop label stakes

Watering A Raised Garden Bed

You can water a raised garden bed by hand or with a sprinkler, but I recommend installing an automatic drip watering system! This solution is so convenient, it’s easy to install, and it’s way cheaper than you would think. Having the watering duties handled automatically takes the hassle out of gardening.

automatic watering
How To Install Automatic Watering In Raised Garden Beds

Check out this post I wrote to learn everything you need to know to install your own drip irrigation system in a raised garden bed – DIY Automatic Drip Watering In Your Raised Garden Beds

Don’t Forget The Plant Food!

Don’t forget the Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food (Amazon)! For best results, feed your plants with Miracle-Gro (or any other plant food) every 1 – 2 weeks.

My Favorite Gardening Tools & Resources

You don’t need a ton of fancy tools to get into gardening, but there’s a few necessities. These are the gardening tools I recommend:

How To Keep Deer And Other Animals Out

If you live in a rural area, there’s a good chance that deer could eat your precious vegetables! This Easy Gardener 7ft DeerBlock Netting (Amazon) is the perfect solution. It’s durable, easy to install, and keeps deer and other animals out of your raised garden beds.

Looking for more outdoor inspiration? You’re gonna love these posts:

How to Build Cheap Raised Garden Beds

Best Crops for Raised Garden Beds Cheat Sheet

Best crops for raised garden beds cheat sheet

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22 comments

Rochelle May 26, 2017 - 7:15 am

I love your garden map diagram. Ha!! Very organized. ??

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Abby Darlington May 30, 2017 - 3:21 pm

You guys are so handy!! I wish I could build my own little garden. Great post babe!!

xx,
Abby

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Joyfully Growing May 31, 2017 - 10:43 am

Thanks! Luckily I had my husband around to do all the hard work 😉

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Debbie June 7, 2018 - 3:47 pm

What kind of flowers grow well in a raised bed? What about perennials?

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Ashley June 14, 2018 - 10:59 am

I think perennials would do great! I have lavender in mine, but I’ve seen other people grow marigolds and daffodils too!

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Debbie June 14, 2018 - 4:39 pm

Thanks for the info. Since it’s getting late in the season, I’m just going to throw a few annuals in and see how they do. Practice makes perfect!

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Natascha January 23, 2019 - 2:36 pm

These look great and simple! How’d the depth do for you? Would you recommend going deeper or did your plants do well at that soil depth?

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Ashley January 23, 2019 - 4:40 pm

The depth worked great! I don’t think you’d need to go any deeper than this.

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Mary Vicens February 10, 2019 - 6:47 am

how did you not get grass growing up from below? don’t you need to kill the grass before the dirt?

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Ashley February 14, 2019 - 12:15 pm

By cutting the grass down to almost nothing and filling in with soil, we didn’t have any issues with grass growing up through the soil. If you are worried about that, I would recommend putting a layer of weed barrier down to be safe.

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Lisa March 29, 2019 - 9:25 am

Hello Ashley, I love your raised garden bed, I want to use this for my vegetable garden this yea. Last year I used weed fertilizer on the lawn and black mulch is on so parts of my lawn that fell out from the edging garden against the house. I need to know if this will effect my vegetable garden, even if i try to clean it up and use your advice of soil, reg soil, miracle grow and peet moss. Thanks, Lisa

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Ashley March 29, 2019 - 4:17 pm

Hi Lisa! I wouldn’t worry about the weed killer you put on the lawn last year, all of it should be gone at this point. I would just trim the grass inside the bed down really short (we used a weed wacker on ours), and then put your soil mix right on top. It should be fine! Happy gardening!

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Marie Antionette July 30, 2019 - 6:31 am

Thanks for the A-Z tutorial! I will definitely be doing this, and laying weed barrier. Can’t wait!

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Ashley July 30, 2019 - 9:37 am

You’re so welcome! And that’s a great idea 🙂

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Bala July 31, 2019 - 4:56 am

Nice and detailed instruction to build a raised garden bed. I think it is late for this year to build and grow veggies, I will get myself prepared for next year.

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Ashley August 1, 2019 - 3:57 pm

Glad you found this tutorial helpful, Bala!

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Frenchie August 1, 2019 - 8:31 am

Great idea! Do you have any recommendations for building these on a cemented (ground) backyard? Thinking maybe there should be a bottom…Maybe?

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Ashley August 1, 2019 - 4:11 pm

Thanks Frenchie! The biggest issue I foresee with building these on top of cement is that the soil would not be able to drain properly… I would not install a bottom, and I would recommend drilling several small holes around the base of the frames for water drainage.

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Janice M February 5, 2020 - 5:07 pm

What about critters like rabbits? Isn’t the raised garden still low enough for them to be able to get into your garden and help themselves? What do you do to deter them?

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Ashley February 7, 2020 - 7:43 am

Hi Janice! We haven’t really had problems with little critters like rabbits. But to make the raised beds taller, you can just make a 2nd identical frame and stack them on top of each-other, and fasten them together.

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Megan March 2, 2020 - 11:46 am

So excited I followed your steps on this blog and just built my first 4×8 garden beds from recycled wood at our house all while the husband was at work.

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Ashley April 3, 2020 - 2:38 pm

Woo-hoo! Way to go Megan! Love this!

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