Up until now I’ve been growing my herbs and veggies in pots, and they’ve done really well. But I have a dozen different seeds in the works and would like to upgrade their living space. Plus, my backyard has been screaming at me to do something better with it. Most of the plants have run amok and need, well, some discipline and forced conformity (I guess you could blame it on my nearly two decades of Catholic schooling). The answer? Raised garden beds.
I did tons of research online to seek out videos for DIY raised beds, and it all seemed easy enough—and it was. I was almost tempted to order a kit online. But to order some crap for $70 made from plastic seemed really unnecessary, and I feel like my plants would know I skimped out on them. Most sites recommended building a 4×4′ garden bed, as it’s the easiest distance to reach to the middle. After having cleared out the garden area I wanted (next to my roses) I had about 7ft to play with, which after installing the bed leaves me plenty of room for walking around.
So off to Home Depot I go. I picked up two 2x8x10 lumber and asked the guys there to saw them in half for me. So essentially, you want to end up with 2x4x10 pieces of wood. Try to find cedar or redwood, as it’s naturally rot and insect resistent. DON’T get pressure-treated or stained woods, as they’re laced with chemicals that will seep into the soil and eventually your garden. No bueno.
Drill 3 holes on both ends of two pieces of wood, being mindful of course that the right drill bit on there is the right size for the screws (I picked up some 3″ outdoor/deck screws). My dad and I had a hell of a time with trial and error finding the right size bit. Why don’t they package it together with the screws you buy so you don’t have to guess? I mean seriously.
Mark the holes 3/4″ from the top, with one right on the middle and the other two 1″ from the sides. Why bother pre-drilling? It prevents the wood from splitting. Plus, everything you build from IKEA comes with pre-drilled holes, duh.
Then, instead of having to re-mark the holes for the remaining spots, use the first holes to as a template for the other wood pieces. Lay one piece on top of the other and make a slight indent mark with the drill, then remove it and complete the hole. In the end you should have 2 pieces of wood with 6 holes on each.
When matching the wood for drilling, try to get the pieces to be as flush as possible. Drill the screws right in (no need to pre-drill the other holes for the opposing wood).
Then, ta-da! You’ve got a raised bed frame.
Next you have to prep the dirt area that it’s going to rest on. Lay it where you want it, then with a back of a hammer (or whatever you have handy to dig in a mini-trench) trace around the outside of one side of the bed, then trace a line on the inside of the perpendicular piece. Move the bed into it’s little trench, try to let it settle into the dirt as even as possible. I whipped out a level just to be sure it was good all around. I needed to prop the two front corners with rocks to get it up to the correct height. Then, fill in the sides with surrounding dirt and stomp along to secure it.
The lumber I picked up was $10 each. Screws were $4, drill bit was $3. So for around $30, I’ve created an raised garden bed. Now I’ve just got to fill it with dirt…