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’ve built rectangular 4FT x 8FT raised garden beds, and square 4FT x 4FT beds, and they both 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 – or if you prefer video, checkout our YouTube tutorial at the top of the page!
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How To Build Raised Garden Beds
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Building Materials & Tools
- 2″ x 10″ Lumber (Home Depot)
- Swanson Speed Square (Amazon)
- Carpenter’s Pencil (Amazon)
- Tape Measure (Amazon)
- Circular Saw (Amazon)
- Dewalt Cordless Drill (Amazon)
- 3.5″ Construction Screws (Amazon)
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 from our garden, so we used untreated lumber to minimize any risk of contamination.
Pre-Made, Ready To Assemble Kits
If you’d rather purchase a pre-made, ready to assemble kit, check out my top picks for Best Raised Garden Beds. It includes popular designs with tons of options ranging from Galvanized Steel, to Cedar, to Rattan and many more. They’re available an a range of sizes that will work with any garden space.
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. You only need to make one cut to complete this project!
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 just needed to cut a board in half.
Making 4FT x 4Ft square beds, is just as easy. Simply cut two boards in half and use all four boards to create a square frame.
To get started, we used a Swanson Speed Square (Amazon) and pencil to mark the boards at 4FT. Next, we cut the boards using our favorite Dewalt 60V Circular Saw (Amazon) but of course, any wood saw will work.
RELATED: 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!
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 use nails to secure the frames together, but they have a tendency to start coming apart after a year or two. And sometimes warped boards will start pulling nails apart within a few days.
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 grass, and weeds from growing up through the soil.
In our experience, using an underlayment has been unnecessary. If you decide to use shorter frames that won’t hold as much soil, then it would probably be a good idea.
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.
Especially if you plan to use the raised beds for a vegetable garden, don’t use Roundup or any other harsh chemicals to kill the grass!
Pre-Made Garden Beds
Looking for an even easier option? Check out this pre-made raised garden bed. It’s available on Amazon with free Prime Shipping, and only costs around $80!
Filling The Raised Garden Beds
We were able to get 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. It’s also pretty easy to 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 to each raised bed.
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. We’ve found that if you mound a few extra inches of soil over the top of the frames, it will end up settling down to flat over time. It’s difficult to add more soil later on because you’ll end up burring your plants!
Keep in mind, you shouldn’t try to compact the soil to prevent settling. Soft fluffy soil is perfect for young plants that are trying to grow roots.
Most bags of soil are either 1.5 cu. ft. per bag, or 2 cu. ft in volume. To fill a 4FT x 8FT raised bed, you’ll need (17) 1.5 cu. ft bags of soil, or (13) 2 cu. ft bags of soil.
Note: Many bags of soil are either 1.5 or 2 cu. ft, however many other sizes are available so be sure to calculate the number of bags based on the exact size of the bags you’re buying. And always round up so you can over fill the beds slightly!
To fill a 4FT x 4Ft x 10″ raised garden bed, you’ll need 12.11 cubic feet or .45 cubic yards of soil. This equates to (7) 2 cu. ft bags of soil, or (9) 1.5 cu. ft bags of soil.
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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 almost any plant.
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’re perfect for planting in raised garden beds.
- Black Beauty Zucchini Seeds (Amazon)
- Big Boy Hybrid Tomato Seeds (Amazon)
- Sugar Sweetie Cherry Tomato Seeds (Amazon)
- Giant Sweet Red Strawberry Seeds (Amazon)
- Purple Tomato Seeds (Amazon)
- Early Scarlet Globe Radish Seeds (Amazon)
- Sweet Potato Seeds (Amazon)
- Spacemaster Cucumber Seeds (Amazon)
- Early No. 7 Spinach Seeds (Amazon)
- Mammoth Sunflower Seeds (Amazon)
I used Popsicle sticks and my favorite cheap DYMO embossed label maker from Amazon to make simple, easy labels for my plants.
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 might think. Having the watering duties handled automatically takes the hassle out of gardening.
Check out this post I wrote called DIY Automatic Drip Watering In Your Raised Garden Beds. It has all the info you need to install your own drip irrigation system in a raised garden bed.
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 7.5FT Garden Netting (Amazon)is the perfect solution. It’s durable, easy to install, and keeps birds, deer and other animals out of your raised garden beds.
Looking for more outdoor inspiration? You’re gonna love these posts:
- DIY Outdoor Patio Table
- How to Style A Small Patio (on a budget!)
- 9 Outdoor Rugs on Amazon That’ll Transform Your Outdoor Space
How to Build Cheap Raised Garden Beds
Best Crops for Raised Garden Beds Cheat Sheet
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