building garden raised beds

How to Build DIY Raised Garden Beds to Grow Your Own Food

Erik Personal Development and Lifestyle, Projects 4 Comments

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Are you looking to grow your own food? Are you interested in building a raised garden bed for yourself in your yard?

Growing your own food, whether to save money on food, be more environmentally conscious, or build community, is a great thing to try and do.

How can you build raised garden beds to grow your own food?

Make no mistake, building a structure out of wood can be intimidating, but building raised garden beds isn’t too difficult.

In this post, you will learn about how to build raised garden beds, get raised bed building plans, get a rough estimate of the cost of building a raised garden bed, and see how I built my raised garden beds.

How to Build Raised Garden Beds to Grow Your Own Food

Building raised garden beds to grow your own food isn’t too difficult.

First, you’ll need to plan out your raised beds, so that when you go to order your materials, you will get enough.

After planning, you’ll then be ordering the wood and dirt, clearing your yard where the bed will go, and then assembling the garden beds for your garden.

Finally, after all of this hard work, you can start planting vegetables, herbs or fruits to save money and eat environmentally friendly.

DIY Raised Garden Bed with Cedar Boards Building Plans

When planning out your DIY raised garden bed, you’ll first want to think about how big you want your garden to be.

Wooden boards are sold at different department stores in 6, 8, 10 and 12 foot varieties. Planning around this so you don’t have to make too many cuts should be considered. Another consideration is the height of your garden bed. Boards come in varying widths, between 2 and 12 inches, so you can mix and match to get the right height.

A very common raised garden bed size is 4 feet by 8 feet by 16 inches high, which is 32 square feet after construction.

Depending on your needs, 32 square feet is actually a big space for growing food, and can yield a substantial amount of vegetables and fruits.

During planning, you will want to think about what you will plant. Starting out as a square foot gardener, you’ll want to research which plants and vegetables you’ll want to plant.

Certain plants and vegetables take up more space than others.

Finally, when planning, you’ll want to find a place in your yard which receives sunlight for the majority of the day.

Which Wood and Materials Should I Use for My Raised Garden Bed?

There are only a few materials you will need to get to make a raised garden bed.

First, obviously, you’ll need wood.

Depending on your building plan, you’ll need to dimension out the amount of wood you’ll need, and then pick it up from a hardware or landscaping store.

For my raised bed, I purchased 2×8 Red Cedar lumber from Menards. My raised bed plan was two 4 foot by 8 foot raised beds.

While red cedar is a premium lumber, it is well worth the expense.

For screws, you will want to buy exterior screws which are made for treated boards. This way, the screws do not rust and ruin the boards with moisture.

Finally, you’ll need to purchase or source dirt, compost, and other beneficial soil nutrients for your garden.

I purchased my dirt and compost from a local garden center in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis, and got some vermiculite and peat moss from Menards.

These soil supplements will help the garden retain moisture and be more nutrient rich when I go to plant vegetables.

Why Red Cedar Boards are Best for Raised Garden Beds

Red cedar is a great option for raised garden beds. While red cedar is a little more expensive than other woods, it is well worth the expense.

Cedar is naturally resistant to rot from direct contact with the ground. This natural rot resistance is why you see cedar used for so many outdoor projects like garden beds, patios, fences and outdoor furniture.

Red cedar boards can be sourced from your local hardware store.

The Cost of DIY Raised Garden Beds

When planning out your DIY raised garden beds, price and cost is a definite consideration.

Red cedar is expensive, but is worth the investment.

For my two 4 foot by 8 foot, and 16 inch tall raised beds, I bought the following:

  • Twelve 4 foot by 8 foot boards, totaling $192
  • I bought 3.5 cubic yards of a compost/top soil combination for $144.
    • The total volume of the raised beds is 85.3 square feet, or just over 3 cubic feet (85.3/27)
  • I bought two bags of vermiculite and peat moss, which came to about $15.
  • Finally, I got a box of screws for roughly $10.

So in total, I was able to get the materials for these raised garden beds for $361.

While I could have bought pre-made raised beds for much cheaper, or made smaller garden beds, this will pay off from the savings of growing my own food.

For example, just by only building one of these 4 foot by 8 foot beds, I would have saved $168, bringing the total to under $200.

How to Build Your DIY Raised Garden Beds

Now that you’ve gotten all of the materials for your raised garden beds, it’s time to build your garden.

Building your DIY raised garden beds will require some space in your yard, a shovel or rake, and some energy to get out there and seize the day!

The steps to creating your garden is the following:

  1. Prepare a sunny space in your yard for your raised garden beds
  2. Assemble your raised garden beds according to your garden plan
  3. Do some landscaping around your garden to make it look amazing!

Below, I’ll show what I did in my yard to go through these 3 steps.

Preparing Your Yard for Raised Garden Beds

First, you want to find a flat piece of your yard which will be hit by the sun for the majority of the summer days.

Ideally, the space will be in an open space, and not surrounded by trees, or obstructed by your house.

For me, I live on a city lot, but found some space to clear and prepare for the garden beds.

I ended up taking a shovel and removed any existing plants, and looked to make things as flat as possible.

preparing yard for raised bed

After you’ve cleared the space in your yard, you can get ready to start assembling the wood into your raised beds.

Assembling Raised Garden Beds

For raised garden beds, assembling them involves making a rectangle and drilling the different boards together.

Since most boards will come as 8 foot long boards, for the ends, you’ll have to make a cut down the middle with a saw.

Also, if you want, you can pound stakes into the ground to stabilize your garden. You can do this with big posts, or with small stakes. I took two by fours and cut them to 24 inches. While this might not be the most stable, it will probably be good enough – I’ve seen others do posts and cement, but that seems like overkill for my yard.

Having flat ground will help a lot here, as any height differences will make the wood sit at an angle!

Half way to completing the garden bed construction.

Garden bed construction is done! (I put cardboard down under the mulch to block existing weeds and grass)

After filling it up with dirt, and adding mulch around, the garden beds are done!

After assembling, filling the garden beds with your dirt mixture, and decorating the surrounding landscape, you are done. Now it’s time to plant!

Common Questions about DIY Raised Garden Beds

So far in this post, I’ve provided some good information building a raised garden bed with cedar boards, but there’s a few other things you might be wondering.

For wood, you could use pine, and save a little money, but since this is not typically treated and naturally rot resistance, then the wood may rot out quickly.

Some raised garden bed plans will call for plastic lining on the inside of your garden bed. I decided to not use plastic lining. However, by using plastic lining, you’ll be able to add a layer of protection to the wood, and slow the decay and rotting process even more.

Finally, for height, if you are nimble and don’t mind bending over, then you could build your garden beds anywhere from 12 inches tall to 3 feet tall! It really depends on what you want your yard and garden to look and feel like!

Start Your Vegetable Garden This Season!

You now have all of the information you need to build some raised garden beds for your family and yard.

There is so much waste out there in the world from food production, and by growing your own food, you can help do your part in living sustainably.

Creating your own vegetable garden is doable and affordable. By putting some energy into your yard and garden, it will be well worth your investment of time and money.

Readers: have you made raised beds before? What would you recommend as some tips for building a raised bed? What are you going to grow after you’ve made your garden?

DIY Raised Garden Beds

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Comments 4

  1. My wife made raised beds at our old house and used them for a few years. We moved three years ago and don’t have them at our new house, but it can definitely be a good way to save some money on food.

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      Thanks Angela for the comment and recommendation. Reading your post and looking at your pictures, I definitely didn’t need to build them as high or big…

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