Friday, April 1, 2011

DIY: Raised Garden Beds

Chirping birds yesterday, barking dogs today.  My own dogs woke be up today while they were outside barking at geese.  I guess it's still better than waking up to an alarm!  My Friday got off to a good start with this breakfast. Half a whole wheat bagel with organic cream cheese, two kiwi, and a small glass of pure cranberry juice. 
 Now here's the first of the gardening posts I promised you.  When Kyle and I put an offer down on our house in April 2009, we were excited about all of it, but were especially in love with the backyard.  It was spacious, bordered by a privacy fence, and had a garden.   Fast forward to when we moved in in July 2009 and everything looks good except- there's no garden.Just this plot of land where the garden used to be.  Where did the garden go?  How would we create a new one?
  After consulting my sister (an organic farmer), the Self-Sufficient-ish Bible, and quite a few websites, we decided to build raised beds.  Here are materials you'll need to build one raised bed:  3- 8' by 2' by 3" pieces of wood, saw, long screws, a drill, and lots of soil.  One bed ran us about $90; the soil was the biggest expense.

First, we sawed one of the 8' by 2' pieces of wood in half thus making 2- 4' by 2' pieces of wood. Kyle is doing his finest Barney Stinson impression as he models the boards.
Once the boards were cut, I held them in in place while Kyle drilled about 3 screws each board to connect it to another boards.  The end result looked like this.  Of course, we had to dig around and under the frame to get it that level, but it wasn't too bad.  We ended up with a nice level bed and 32 square feet of gardening space.  The next step was lining the bottom of the bed with cardboard to prevent weeds from growing.  Kyle and I just used cardboard boxes to line the bed. I was careful to take off all of the tape/staples before using the boxes.  Then we lined each bed with compost from our compost bin.  Finally, it was time to fill the bed with soil. 
We figured out the volume doing the basic formula- length X width X height.  We needed 64 cubic feet of soil per bed.  This was EXPENSIVE and took us forever to complete as we kept underestimating the amount of soil needed.  I recommend buying a lot of soil at once, then returning what you don't need as opposed to going to Lowes 5 times in one day!   Also, the majority of the soil we used was the cheapest stuff they had, then we bought some 'good stuff' (re: more expensive soil) for the top layer.  The garden ended up looking like this. Pretty, right? I'm extremely proud of this project.  It's one of those you'd see at the end of the Better Homes and Gardens magazine under the title, "I Did It!"
What is your garden like?  Do you have containers, raised beds, or just a plot of land you've planted? 


  1. My wife and I are planning our raised beds after no luck with an "in ground" garden. Did the cardboard keep out the weeds over time? I'm just wondering if that is long lasting enough. I love the idea and have done it to kill grass or weeds for other projects, but never under a garden bed. Thanks for any feedback.

  2. Looks like treated lumber? not sure i would grow veggies in there.

  3. Looks like treated lumber? not sure i would grow veggies in there.