Building A Raised Bed

Cedar raised beds we built last year (2013)
 After 2 years of planting directly in the ground with no added soil, 4 green metal garden stakes, and a chicken wire fence we realized it was time for an upgrade. Moving forward we realized that we wanted to build something more permanent that would be a design that we loved and would last for years.  We also wanted to include a fence and a gate to keep out the animals and make it easier for us to access.

Why we choose Raised Beds: After I did my research we decided to invest in building some quality raised beds.  One of the articles we found that convinced my husband this was the way to go was from OSU's Horticulture and Crop Science Department.  Here is the article: Benefits to Raised Bed Gardening  I highly recommend reading this if you are trying to decide between raised bed gardening verses just planting in the ground.

Instructions for Building A Raised Bed: If you are interested in building your own raised bed I have included the link to Sunset's website: Your Guide to Making a Raised Garden Bed  This is how we built ours and they are amazing!  There are step by step instructions and great pictures to go along with the instructions.  

Materials for Sunset 4 x 8 Raised Bed:
(1) 6-foot-long 4-by-4
(6) 8-foot-long 2-by-6s
(1) 10-foot-long 1-inch PVC pipe
(2) 10-foot-long ½-inch PVC pipes
(32) 3½-inch #14 wood screws and 
(16) ½-inch #8 wood screws
(1) 4- by 10-foot roll of ¼-inch-mesh hardware cloth 
(8) 1-inch galvanized tube straps (semicircular brackets)
(32) cubic feet (1- 1/5 cu. yd.) soil mix*

Modifications we made to the design:  
1.  *I highly recommend using the Best Raised Bed Soil Mix from the Square Foot Garden Method (SFGM) that I wrote about in the previous post. Just click on the link above and you can find the instructions.

2. We wanted (5) hoops per bed as seen in our final picture below. (The original design called for 2).  Two hoops were not enough support for the row cover fabric.  So we added more tube straps and PVC pipe for this modification.

NOTE: The PVC hoops are used for Row Covers (special fabric that protects plants from frost and pests).  You can read more about them in this post: Using Row Covers

3. If you are interested in adding the Vertical Frame with the net (shown below) for growing vine crops vertically I explain how to build them in this post: Building Vertical Frame for a Raised Bed 
Our final raised bed design with (5) PVC hoops & added Vertical Frame in Pine bed. (Picture taken 1 year after construction).
My view on selecting lumber: We built (2) of our beds from untreated Pine and the other (2) from untreated Cedar.  We didn't feel comfortable using treated lumber when we were going to be eating the vegetables from the raised beds!
You can coat the boards with linseed oil or there is a product called  Eco Wood Treatment that is made of naturally occurring plant and mineral extracts.

Pine lumber: will be more cost effective and is readily available.  Pine will last approximately 10 years as a raised bed. 

Cedar lumber: is more expensive than Pine and can be harder to come across.  The major benefit is that it can last up to 30 years!  (Our Asparagus bed can last up to 30 years so that is why we built it out of Cedar).

Pre-made raised beds (shown above) are another option if you want to save time.
Keep in mind you can purchase pre-made raised beds at your local home improvement store or many are also available through gardening magazines.   

Do what works for you and get your raised bed ready for planting in early March or April of 2014!


  1. I love your website! Can you tell me how you made the walking areas around the beds, and what material you used?

    1. (Lucy) I would love to share that information with you! Here is the simple way we finished off the walking areas around the raised beds:

      1. REMOVE GRASS- We put leaves on the grass in the area around the beds and let it sit all winter. That process killed the grass (you can also use newspaper down, straw or dig up the grass).
      2. PUT DOWN A BARRIER- We removed the leaves in the spring and covered the ground with landscape fabric (also known as weed barrier).
      3. STEPPING STONES- We bought 12 x 12 concrete pavers (you could also make your own) and placed them in a row at the front of the beds and then in rows down the middle of the beds.
      4. MULCH- We then covered the landscape fabric with wood mulch (untreated) that we purchased in 2.0 cubic foot bags at our local Menards store. The product wa "Wood Ecology Best Wood Mulch" and at the time had a rebate for $1.00 a bag!

      I am going to make a future post to describe this process in more detail with pictures!