Gardening in a raised bed has so many benefits! Follow along to learn a super simple way to make one for cheap.
This year our family was able to build some raised beds from scratch. I’m so excited to garden this Summer and reap the produce from beds that were so quick to get up and easy to use!
When planning out our garden this year, I was very strategic and aware of spacing. I’m still a newbie when it comes to gardening. This is my third year having a garden, so I still have a lot to learn. However, I have also learned a lot in that time. In prior years, I have somewhat carelessly planted my seeds and plants in the beds that I had. I would kind of just sprinkle the seeds or guess on spacing and hope it worked out. While it did work okay, it wasn’t ideal for the best harvest possible. This created a problem, as you can imagine, once the plants grew to a certain size they were WAY too close. I’m happy to share with you that with these new raised beds I made this year, I will have plenty of space to plant the things I want , properly.
It is so empowering to create something useful with your own two hands. This is why I like to DIY everything from homemade beeswax wraps, to sewing a kitchen towel, to building projects like this one! We ended up making 8 raised beds from scratch, in addition to one out of wood I already had laying around.
What wood is best for raised bed gardening?
There are a few wood options to consider when you are planning raised bed. The best, untreated, wood option would be Redwood. This is because of the wood’s natural ability to resist rot and last for years to come. It is the most expensive option, because it is the number one option. For this reason, I opted for the second best option, Cedar wood. Cedar wood is also good for resisting rot and giving you a lot of years out of it, it’s just not quite as strong as Redwood.
Options such as Pine and Douglas fir are less desirable, because they are not as strong and are not the best for resisting severe weather. If you live in an area that doesn’t get much rain or wind, you might be okay to use one of these options but be cautious.
I do not recommend ever gardening in wood that has been treated. When the treated wood gets wet, it can leak the chemicals into the soil, and therefore into your food. It’s best to use organic practices when gardening to avoid potential health risks. This way, you can feel good about the product you worked so hard to feed your family. I did use treated wood for the fence surrounding my garden, since it is not in contact with the raised beds.
Best wood choice for a low budget
Our family has lived on a low budget for a period of time. So, I can relate if the idea of having a raised garden bed sounds awesome but unreachable, financially. There are a couple of ways you can save money when making a raised garden bed. My first recommendation would be to try to find left over wood in the bins from construction bins that can be utilized for a garden bed. I recently had a friend do this and she was able to make 4 raised beds out of wood and galvanized tin, that was completely FREE! This is definitely the way to go if you live near any construction going on.
If you don’t live in a suburban area or you do not want to take the time to go look for wood (this was me), then you can still save money when making a raised bed! Using fence pickets is a bit cheaper than buying 1×6 pieces of wood from the hardware store. This is the option that I opted for since I didn’t want to lug my infant and toddler around all day while I scout for free wood in my area. This was still a great option that did save me money. You can easily just lop off the dog-ear end of the picket when you are assembling the raised bed.
Things to remember when considering making a raised garden bed
When you begin planning a raised bed project, there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. The first being the fact that you have to fill the bed with quality soil. I live in a neighborhood, so my soil is super sandy and not ideal for gardening. So, I had to source my soil from a local company and amend it with compost. This is a cost you will want to keep in mind. Where I live, the cheapest option I found was top soil for $30 and compost for $53 per cubic yard, not to be confused with cubit feet. I had 8 1/2 beds to fill so I had to budget and plan ahead for that kind of investment.
Another thing to think about is weeds. One way you can help keep the weeds down in your raised bed is to line the bed ground with weed barrier, after the bed is constructed. This will keep the weeds down, but not non-existent. I do not know of a way that can completely get rid of weeds in a garden, it’s just part of gardening.
Thirdly, you’ll want to remember about the possibility of the wood bowing when the soil is dumped into the bed. To avoid this you’ll want to do two things. The first thing you want to do is use a 2×4, the height of the bed to stabilize at the halfway point on the long sides of the bed. In addition to the 2×4, it’s wise to add a steak on the outside of the garden bed, once constructed, to avoid bowing as the soil settles.
Supplies you’ll need for building a 6×3 foot raised garden bed
- 6 fence pickets or 1×6 pieces of wood
- 2×4, 6ft long for 1 raised bed
- 2 inch nails, I recommend coated for ease of use and longevity of life
- Weed barrier, optional but recommended
- Staple gun
- Quality soil
- Miter saw
How to construct the raised bed
Begin by getting all of the cutting out of the way
Cut 2 of the fence pickets in half with a Miter saw.
Then cut the dog ear end off of all the pickets. If not using pickets, then just skip the dog ear instruction.
Cut the 2×4 into 1 ft sections. There will be 6 equal sections when the cutting is complete.
Assembling the bed
On a flat surface, place one of the 1 foot 2×4 pieces vertically. Clamp a horizontal 6 foot fence picket to the 2×4 and screw into place. Stack the other picket on top of the first, so that the 2×4 is covered with pickets, clamp, and screw into place.
Repeat for opposite 6 foot side of the garden bed.
Follow the same process with the 3 foot sides, but screw them into the side portion the 2×4. You will use 4 of the 1 foot 2×4’s in each corner of the bed.
Use the remaining 2 2×4 pieces on the halfway point of the 6 foot sides of the garden bed. Screw them to the inside of the bed to secure.
Adding barrier, reinforcements, and soil to the raised garden bed
Next, add the weed barrier by stapling it to the interior of the bed and lining the ground with it. Staple about every 4 inches to secure.
Add stakes to the outside of each bed right on the outside of the 2×4’s that are at the halfway points. Sink into the ground with a hammer. Not pictured below.
Add soil and compost. Allow soil to settle for 2 weeks before planting in it.
Leave a comment with what you are growing in your garden this year!
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