Raised Garden Beds Revisited

Last summer I finally invested some attention, time and moolah into my side yard, in the form of 2 raised garden beds. They were not cheap to assemble or fill but have improved the look of the yard 105%. Approximately.

Back yard 2013_07_16 (40)My only (small) complaint is that when I’m sweeping leaves or hosing off the sidewalk there’s very few places for the water to “run off” since the boards butt right up against the walkway.

Not a huge deal.

Just this month I’ve finished adding more dirt to get these more level, if you recall in the beginning of this project I used bags and bags of fill dirt from the nursery (which wasn’t cheap) and it barely made a dent! Since these boxes are nice and deep – 12″ – that means a lot of square footage to fill.

Recently I decided to add another box, this time to the backyard.

This small patch under the guest window has a notoriously hard time getting plants to grow – in part because the faucet here is drippy but the soil is like clay.

photo(1)Since this red geranium has survived for 8 months clearly now I have to disrupt the tiny little ecosystem.

I started with some brainstorming and quickly measured out the space. Here’s the wood I picked out:


It’s just common board from Home Depot, width is 1″, height is 8″ (so both thinner and shorter than the side yard boxes) and the box measurements are 90″ x 20″ aka about 7.5′ x 1.75′.

After picking up (2) 8′ boards and (1) 6′ board and very narrowly fitting them in my car, I measured them on the ground before cutting them with my new circular saw. For the measurements, I wanted it to butt up against the walkway like the side yard but not the house in the back.

A few reasons:

1) I’m relatively sure I’m going to be painting the siding someday soon and I’d rather not get paint all over my box. When I paint it will be important to drape/cover the ground to get behind. This is the same reason I’ve not planted any bushes/larger plants in this space in, oh, 5 years.

2) the hose from the faucet runs along the house, across the path to the side yard where it’s hooked up to a soaker hose. I’d rather not have it buried in case it needs replacing and keeping it behind the box means it’s relatively safe from the mower.

My faucet here does have a split connector so the second hose is attached to the caddy. This is the one I use for washing the patios, watering the roses in the summer and cleaning off my lawn chairs. It’s pretty compact and I don’t use it much since the automated sprinklers do most of the watering.

Back to the boxes!

After cutting them down to size, I assembled them with these corner brackets I picked up with the wood and some 1″ exterior wood screws.

photo(3)Now, if you’ve drilled through some solid wood before you know that it’s easy to a) strip the screws or b) give up and try to hammer them in halfway through.

Oh, is that just me?

If you were unaware, a drill bit makes this job 1000% easier. However. You may break a lot of drill bits.

Oh, still just me?

Here’s my completely amateur tip: pick up a drill bit designed for concrete. They exist, I promise. Maybe not at Wal-Mart but check out a smaller, independent hardware store and you’ll be able to buy the size you use most in a more heavy duty composite.


Done. So the holes are drilled, brackets attached and box assembled.

photo(2)Now, this wood is not perfectly straight and the boards are a little bowed. I know, it annoys me too. But considering I have an inch gap on the back and 2-3″ on the right side, I wasn’t freaking out too much about making it square. Because: priorities.

Here’s the box finally installed:

photoThat geranium looks really sad now, doesn’t it?

I decided to add more fill dirt to bring it up to box height so first came digging out the plant and then bringing in a lot of dirt! Luckily I had just begun to empty my compost bin of the good, nutrient rich soil and it made up the first layer. Then I added this dirt which I pick up at Big Lots:

gardensoilI’ve used it for years and it really does a nice job. 2 cu ft is just $7 in the spring and they tend to sell out quickly. I’ve purchased 9 bags so far this year and I always seem to need more (in a related note, I’m pretty sure I vacuum it all out of my carpet year round).

I emptied 2 bags and then replaced the 3 plants, the largest one in the middle:

Backyard 2014_03_11 (01)The dogs were intrigued:

Backyard 2014_03_11 (03)The little patio on the far left is for my rain barrel project – whenever I get around to demoing and replacing the gutters and downspouts. I still need to refill the cracks between the bricks with another layer of polymeric sand but that will need to happen on a day that isn’t so windy.

The last “problem” is that I want to fix up the area in and around the faucet and sprinkler settings. I hate how it always seems to be super muddy so I will be digging out the mud here and filling in with some rocks.

photo(4)If you can’t tell, I’m the kind of person who really likes having things in their nice little boxes. Which is neigh impossible in a living space like a garden but I do try!

This path was pretty torn up when I moved in, last summer we pulled the 12″ bricks and replaced them with this design, and now the box is installed to contain the flowers.

Final before & after:Screenshot 2014-03-11 20.30.14


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