Building A Raised Bed for the Garden

Building a new raised bed for a vegetable garden isn't difficult and  doesn't have to be expensive. This week I put together a new raised bed that measures 3'x10' with materials I had laying around the garage. It's wider than I originally intended in my garden layout but I discovered after remeasuring the area that I actually had a little more space. I think 3 feet wide is probably the ideal width most people should build their beds but 4 feet is definitely the maximum width. Gardeners want to be able to easily reach the middle of the bed for weeding and harvesting and 3 feet wide beds are only 18 inches to the center which I think is good enough for most people. 

The raised bed I put together uses a hodgepodge collection of materials for a couple reasons:  
  1. I had the materials conveniently laying around the garage (which means I didn't have to buy anything) and  
  2. I needed to compensate for a slight slope in this area of the garden.  
To try to keep a level bed I used a 3 foot long section of 2"x6" on the lower end and a 3 foot long section of 2"x4" on the high side. The result was pretty close to level.

I used two 2"x4"s on each side; one measured 4 feet while the other measured 10 feet long. I put the smaller one on the bottom and the larger one on top to build a little depth. The actual height on the deep side is 7 and 1/4 inches while on the high side is only 3 and a half inches. The soil underneath is in good shape after being amended with grass clippings and leaves in the fall. Generally if there is good soil underneath the raised beds the height doesn't need to be as tall. Rocky and clay compacted soils necessitate a higher/deeper raised bed.

To attach the beds together I used 1"x3" pieces cut to the correct height (7.25") on the corners and on the sides where the bottom 2"x4" ends. These pieces required a few more screws (I used 2" coated deck screws) to fit together than just going end to end but should hold together well. I put these on the outside of the beds but using 4"x4" posts on the inside corners is a good method also.

Now I need to layer the bottom with newspapers or cardboard then fill with soil, compost, and grass clippings from the yard.  I still have at least one more bed to put together but since these will be tomato beds and tomatoes can't be planted outside for several weeks I have a little window of time to get the job done!

How are you expanding your vegetable garden this year?

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