Great step-by-step instructions on building a raised bed

jj_upstatenyJune 20, 2009

I have found a very nice set of instructions that shows how to build an 8x4 raised bed -- see Sunset magazine online, link posted below.

I should note that they estimate costs at $187, but that includes cedar wood as well as soil to fill the bed. So for the bed itself, using more standard lumber, would be a fraction of that.

It has some nifty suggestions, such as using tube straps to attach PVC to hold a netting or shade frame, if you wish to attach one.

I have not made mine yet, but I think this is the model that I will use.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Just wanted to let you know that I used these instructions to make two 3' x 6' raised beds earlier this year and other than being harder than I expected to get level in the ground after they were built, they're working great. I used redwood and one row of 2 x 8's.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 9:09PM
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Glad to hear they worked well. I think I will do a test run with a family member who knows more about handiwork than I do before I do my own.

I do have just a bit of a slope where I want to put these... any advice on the leveling? I don't know how hard you meant it was when you said "harder than I expected."

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 5:05PM
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Depending on how much slope you're talking about, you could dig the higher end into the ground a bit to level it. I thing EG knows all about building boxes on a slope. Maybe he'll chime in.

Here is a link that might be useful: Luke's SF Victory Garden

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 6:10PM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

I wrote this on the compost forum and quite frankly it reads like an ad, but I was so impressed, since this time I have filled one of them, I haven't followed mels mix to the letter, I only added 1 bag of 2 cubic foot of vermiculite (this will be added to over time as I use vermiculite for seed starting ect and it clings on to te roots, but I have spent a lot already and can't justify the cost in a high rainfall area), and 3.8 of peat moss, as I feel bad using it, first 3 to four inches of the 12 inch box I added sand to the bottom, and for my second when I can afford to fill it I am going to aim for 6 inches of sand ( sand is cheep), I also used 2 bags of sand in the main mix, just as thats what my Pop and Dad used to do for drainage?
also top tip, I put the canope up to see what it looked like before I filled the boxes, but of course they where in the way when filling, so I pulled them out! big mistake the sides worked free from each other! fortunately I noticed half way through the sand being put in, so it wasn't too bad to push back and secure using the smaller rods.
My reason for raised beds was due to the fact, the only area I have which isn't really rocky and stoney, is 6 foot by 7 foot, which given, we have nearly an acre is pathetic, fortunatly, I pin pointed this area easily as when we moved in, I noticed the reminants of a veg patch.
The other problem is this area is on a very, very steep slope, so I terraced at as best I could, to remedy this problem and create some more room, I up-ended a expandable todler bed, and used that to create 2 raised beds, on the slope, and filled it with a mix of composts, rotted manuar, chopped up leaves and grass clipping, you name it, I flung it in, to keep the price of the brought stuff down, (composed heap is now built and filling fast).
The garden area is struggling, obviously lots of deficiencies, but I will continue to ammend this area over the years with compost ect.
The raised bed is like concrete!, but what is growing there is growing well, but forget the carrots, poor loves couldn't push through.
Even with these problems, I have opted for the easier on the back, but not the wallet!, solution of raised beds, for my fall crop, it all mounts up!
I opted for prefab raised beds, because after a lot of reseach for 4x8 foots bed, and costing up wood,(unable to sorce for free) brackets,screws, pipes and connectors to make a small frame so I could create a sort of coldframe canope, it was going to cost me in the regions of $110-$120 and then relying on hubby to make it (priceless!), someone on another forum (forget which!)mentioned a recycled plastic bed and frame, which was a reasonable cost, so I decided to investigate, expecting the prices I have seen in my investigations up to press!
They are $129.99 each, if you are looking for raised beds read on, if not I am about to try and help get them cheaper, because I was well impressed, I managed to build them without any tools (which is lucky as I am a cluts with tools), although I had taken a mallet to help me, due to some of the reviews on the companies site, but it wasn't needed as I found you just needed to jiggle the pieces abit for the rod to go in, took me about an hour for the 1st, I will agree with the reviews that the instructions could do with a revamp, but managed it, and it is easy, oh and another complaint 2 pieces where missing, but 2 extra of another piece, I am going to ask to for the replacements, although I am sure the extra pieces I got could be cut down and another hole drilled in...but that would be work!:o), but it doesn't actually interfer in the integrety of the canopy, but I paid for it! (don't yet know if missing from second as haven't unpacked, can't afford the soil, haha!)
I investigated further, couldn't find them listed with anyone else for cheaper, but checked out through Upromise and Ebates (uprom - 5% back, Ebates 3 or 4% forget!) but both have a coupon which you link through the site for, for 15% off any order over $75 until July 1st 2009.
I also found it on either, ebay or amazon from the same company, with free shipping, but for that day only, but can't find them now, but the discounts via Uprom and ebates really, where better than this offer.
It is 4x8 one bit 4x4 6inch and 1 4x4 12 inches deep, seems pretty sturdy, double skinned (whatever that means) and good they claim down to 28F??? as it holds its heat, not it falls appart! (I hope!)
So if you do want a raised bed, if you can get the untreated wood really cheap or for free (try craigslist and freecycle) do that, if not locally cost up and I would say if only within a few dollars for the wood ect, I would buy this for the ease and canope, (at the mo, it may not be such a great deal after july 1st, but I would imagine they will have other promotions)
hope this helps, and to tell you how bad my soil is, to stake my weed cloth, I had to dig holes, remove the stones and refil! to insert the ties! that took me longer than the assembly!! until I thought, hang on once the soil is in, I won't need them! DOH!
Gardeners supply don't mention the company on the web site but its on the box....and I was so happy, made in England...not so happy with the instructions and 2 missing bits, but still impressed.
Good luck whatever you do.

I also noted in a second post that the 2 day shipping was the same cost as the slower one, so I picked that, it may have been to do with how much I spent? $360+ in all! as I said it all mounts up!!
Oh! and my neighbour pointed out I could use the top tier of the second box as a box on its own, you may need to buy extra rods, but if using the canopy you will have spare, yes! they will stick out, but mine do anyway, as the soil below is so stoney I can't bang them in more than 2 or 3 inches anyway.

Here is a link that might be useful: minutes my eye! 60 for me at least!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 11:30PM
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There is a slight slope where I put my garden (a few inches maybe over 4'). I built the beds in the garage and moved them to the garden area. To level them, I set them where I wanted them, laid a long level on the board and dug out underneath the high side. I have a few that were on a bit more of a slope so I cheated and put a stone or a paver under the low corner then filled the gap with dirt from the center.

It's not really that hard, but it can be a PITA. It took me longer to get them level than I anticipated (unless of course, there's some super simple method that I didn't think of.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 1:32AM
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To answer your question, I'm with greenbean... it was a PITA to level, but not to build. But that's pretty much what I did, dig holes for the posts that were deeper on one end than on the other, then fill in the gaps with extra dirt. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 2:10AM
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I made my own raised garden boxes this year and they look similar to the ones posted. I went to Lowes and each 8x4 box cost me apx. $25 to make. I used untreated wood. Each box took six 8-foot-long 2-by-6s. I cut two of them in half for the ends. I made one box 4x4, that's in the middle. I think they turned out nicely and my veggies are doing great! I want to make some more next year.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2009 at 12:41PM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

Where are you? for untreated pine same sizes $31! each lowes!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 11:42PM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

WTF, i have been pricing and pricing! but never found timber that cheap, share the secret but maybe you are close to the source? please tell me that, not that I am a cabbage!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 11:46PM
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I bought my lumber at Lowes. Just to be sure, I called and checked the price. I got Top Choice untreated 2x6x96. It was $2.75 per board. So, for each box the wood cost me $16.50. I pulled the tag off one piece of wood for the stock #. It's 4126210474. I didn't see this size on their website. I bought mine at Lowes in N. Toledo, Oh.

Of course, this is cheap wood and probably won't last more than 5 years, but to get me started cheaply, it worked for me.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 3:28PM
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Type this into the Lowes search

2" x 6" x 8' Top Choice Kiln-Dried Whitewood Lumber

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 3:35PM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

Ah! none of the stores within 50 miles of me stock it! thats why I was having problems, so I was not geting the prices coming up even!
I think I will go in store and try to charm them into stocking it, because I want to try some on my slope next year.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 8:35PM
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It looks as if you stained your boards. Can I ask what you used? Were you happy with the process, and how it has done since then?

One of the drawbacks of using less "fancy" lumber is that they have so many markings, stamps, etc. Did the stain make these much less visible, or did you stain or what? Yours look wonderful! My hubby would be pleased to have these in the yard. :)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 12:10AM
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Such a newbie - have never grown anything but hair and warts. But I am going to try SFG. Live on a remote rock up the BC coast. Little to no soil. Have to pack it in. Every bit of material needs to be carried miles and hiked up hills. Thinking that square buckets (holed for drainage) might be better. According to Mel, they have to be 12"x 12" although he doesn't say how deep. I am thinking that 12" - 16" deep will do. Thus the bucket idea. Any comments?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 2:33PM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

apparently 6 inches does for most veg and 12 inches for things like carrots and parsnips, I have also found toms like this depth, I started my Sq foot in those stacker tub things, over the years I seem to have collected an awful lot of them and many didn't seem to have a family "arr!" so I used those after drilling holes in the bottom, and they worked really well, I wouldn't worry about precisely 12x12 some of mine where longer, or narrower I just did the math.
be warned I did these tubs in Feb, by April I had constructed a bed, from well a old er todler bed! by June having failed to find cheap lumber I ordered 2 raised beds, which are also up and running and I am finding myself eyeing up my other sons bed todler bed! and saying to my husband " he could really do with a full size bed" whilst thinking YES! another raised bed! and also trying to find the ideal location for another couple of the brought raised beds! and how I can terrace my steep slopes further!
It is a creeping sickness and there is NO CURE!
BTW how are the warts and hair? how could I not answer to someone with a GSOH, I had to laugh :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 10:45PM
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yes, its a sickness, **grin** i see the yard and think, what could i put there??? **onery grin** its like seed trading!!! **big smile** i look on that forum and look for something that i don't have or want really bad!! LOL **big smile** we call it a sickness too!! Hee Hee i thought i was the only one who looked at things like that and said, ahhhh what can i use that for??? **grin** sometimes my kids say "mom i think you love the plants more than us" ya know, the same can be said about them though, LOL i've been wondering how in the world to fix a raised bed on my slope, now ya did a really good explanation!! thanx!! ~Medo

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 4:08PM
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