Build the ultimate raised bed Step by step

Build the ultimate raised bed Step by step


The perfect raised bed

1 A raised bed—essentially a large planting box—is the ultimate problem solver: It offers perfect drainage, protection from pests, and easy access to crops. And it’s just the thing to turn your backyard into the farm of your dreams.


You’ll build the bed upside down. Working on a flat surface (such as a patio), set a 4-foot 2-by-12 board on its narrow side edge on the pavement; at one end of the board, place a 16-inch 4-by-4 corner post upright and flush with the end of the board. Use two adjustable woodworking clamps—or a buddy—to keep both pieces of wood flush on the sides and bottom.

Drill to attach

Before securing the post to the 4-foot board, help prevent the wood from splitting by predrilling three evenly spaced holes in the board with the 5/32-inch drill bit. Then secure the board to the post with three 3 1/2-inch screws. (Once the board is secured to the post, you can remove the woodworking clamps if using.

Position for sun

With help from a friend, flip the bed right side up and move it into position. If you plan on growing vegetables, choose a spot in your garden that receives full sun—meaning at least 6 hours of sun per day. A north-south orientation of the bed will give you even sun exposure.

Level the bed

Make sure the bed is level on all sides (using a level if you have one); this will ensure that irrigation percolates evenly. Then backfill the corner holes with dirt to steady the posts

Deter burrowing pests

You don’t want to share your vegetables with gophers and moles. If they’re a problem in your area, keep them out of your raised bed by adding a layer of hardware cloth before you pour in your planting soil.
Here’s what to do: Rake existing soil at the bottom of the bed to level it, then tamp it smooth. Wearing gloves, line the bed bottom with hardware cloth, making sure that the cloth is lying flat on the bottom and curving up to touch each side of the bed. Secure the cloth by stapling it to the sides of the bed. Use wire cutters to trim excess cloth and to help the cloth fit flush around the corner posts

Add soil

Fill the bed with a 50/50 mixture of planting soil and compost. (You can buy both in bags at a garden center, and you can typically save money by buying both in bulk at a local soil yard.) Once the bed is filled, rake the soil smooth and moisten it with a gentle spray from the hose.


Your bed is ready to get growing with fruits, herbs, and vegetables

Protect your crops

To cover newly planted seedlings with bird netting or a season-extending floating row cover, add hoops to the PVC pipe supports in your bed. To form a hoop: Bend one of the 10-foot pieces of 3/8-gauge rebar so that it arcs into a half-circle, then slip each end of this hoop into a PVC pipe support.

Repeat with remaining rebar to form and secure two more hoops. Then drape the bird netting or row cover over all three hoops.

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