Raised Garden Beds – a Novice Tutorial

I am absolutely in love with my garden beds! Over a few days we built 2 new 4′ x 8′ raised garden beds and 2 custom planter boxes.

Let’s start with the garden beds:

2013-07-16 (19)These were designed to fit in my side yard which was measured at 4′ wide and 17′ in length.

We picked up douglas fir boards that were 2″ thick, 12″ wide and 8′ in length. The easiest way to buy these is to pick out 6 2 x 12 x 8 boards, reserve 4 for the long sides and have the other 2 cut in half for the short sides.

To secure the boards I picked out 4″ x 4″ redwood posts and had them cut into 16″ segments. This would allow them to be flush with the top of the bed (12″) and go into the soil 4″ down. Here’s a close up of the joint:

DSC_0132Of course we have to secure all of that together so I picked up a tube of liquid nails and a one pound box of 2.5″ wood screws (exterior grade).

Before assembling all the wood we began by protecting the wood with Thompson’s Outdoor Water Seal. All those milk crates I had saved ended up being very useful!

2013-07-13 (05)Those were supposed to take 24 hours to dry but since it was 95 degrees outside they were ready in less than an hour. We lined up the boards, slapped on the liquid nails and then drilled for the screws. I also got persnickety and made sure that the side of each board with stamps is facing in (so it gets buried with the dirt).

Up to the assembly, this could be a one person job. Moving the wood isn’t too difficult and even drilling the holes and securing the boards. But it usually takes two people to hold everything in place to secure the screws to ensure everything is level. Digging the holes can be difficult depending on the state of your yard but moving the boxes is a chore.

Because Ryan was here he dug out space for the posts, pulled up the weed cover that was in place and filled in a single layer of rocks for drainage. We moved the boxes in place before working on the patios and filling in the interiors.

2013-07-16 (02)You can see in the background of that photo that  we laid down a layer of newspaper and wet it down.  The boxes butt right up to the new red stone patios with just a minimal layer of rocks in between to keep out the dirt and weeds. On this edge we’ll add a layer of regular bricks but around the other edges where it’s too narrow just a layer of rocks.

The best part of the process so far is that we have no scrap wood leftover from these boxes – there are four 16″ posts left and I have big plans for those!

Next up, the flower boxes for the stone patio.


2 thoughts on “Raised Garden Beds – a Novice Tutorial

  1. Kelly, they look great! Do you know – Is Thompson’s Outdoor Water Seal OK to use if you’d be planting vegetables?

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