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Picture of Raised Bed Garden [for Those With Only Hand Tools!]
Photo 11-02-2017, 09 38 43.jpg

Growing my own produce in my backyard has been a dream of mine for years. We moved into a new place and I prioritized getting new plants in the ground before I unpacked boxes to take advantage of the growing season. It definitely paid off!

Resources to Get Started
These two books helped me get started for growing things here in the Bay Area:

  • Golden Gate Gardening. A much-lauded book for the region, and with good reason. This book has helped me more that I realized I knew at every stage of gardening.
  • California Fruit & Vegetable Gardening. A quicker read than the previous and a nice complement to skim over while you're in the early planning phases.

Design Considerations

Wood choice. I used redwood. Other types of wood might be more available to you in your neck of the woods. It's important that the wood is untreated if you're growing things you plan to eat. Otherwise, you can use the lower grade lumber that isn't aesthetically pleasing like you'd use for building furniture.

Dimensions. I had a flexible amount of space and decided to use the board length availability to set a constraint. To make a 6'x4' raised bed, you can buy 12' boards and ask for one cut per board (or cut it yourself if you have the tools) into a 6' and 4' piece each. This will make a double height bed (one foot deep) with even board coverage around all sides. I also couldn't fit a 12 foot board in my car, but the 8 foot fit just fine. Just things to consider :-)

Soil. It's important to learn about what grows in your climate zone and both plant and plan your soil around these. You'll want a blend and remember that your plants will need lots of food to grow, so give them all you can for a healthy start.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

Picture of Gather Your Supplies
Photo 26-02-2017, 15 25 37.jpg

This build was relatively simple thanks to two things: the paver blocks from Home Depot that accept a 2x6 (or 2x* board) and the fact that Home Depot will cut a board for you. I love tools but didn't have my shop space built out yet at the new house when I wanted to get the garden in, so I used these other options to get plants in the ground soon enough to grow.

Here's what you'll need to build your own!

- 4 12' untreated 2x6 lumber boards, cut into 8' and 4' pieces
- 8 raised bed pavers
- Chicken wire
- Newspaper/packing paper
- Mix of soil/compost/etc

BobH1605 months ago
Nicely done, as you say region is dependent, I have a damp climate normally so I use geotex linings as it keeps most pests out and completely kills off weeds beneath it.
I also used an old bath tub surrounded by wood to make it asthetically pleasing that I use for deep rooting vegetables.
acoens (author)  BobH1604 months ago
That's a clever idea, BobH160! I bet the bath tub is a beautiful addition to your garden and functional, too.
BobH160 acoens4 months ago
It ticks a lot of boxes, it is deep, no need for liner, instantly raised, natural drainage (if you don't put the plug in) and choice of surround that doesn't come into contact with the soil, easily cleaned after the end of the season.
Bsrlin5 months ago
Thank you for taking the time to show your project.
acoens (author)  Bsrlin4 months ago
Thanks @Bsrlin for reading! It's nice of you to comment.
jannie.lloyd5 months ago
Is it really necessary to use chicken wire? Why do you use it?
Everything else is explained nicely. Thank you. Jannie
You use the chicken wire to limit access from below by things like moles, ground squirrels, and other pests that want to feast on your garden.
Thank you. We are plagued with moles here (central France) so your idea of using wire seems a sensible idea.
Here in Indiana I wrap the area that I'm planting bulbs, then a layer of soil/mulch, to keep them from being eaten.
I'm forever lamenting the loss of plants so I'm grateful for your suggestion. I've just built 4 raised beds in the poly tunnel so a bit late for them but I'll certainly use this idea for the rest that will be build over the coming months.
acoens (author)  dctindiana5 months ago
Hi all, I haven't had any issues with burrowing rodents since putting in the chicken wire but will update this section to include a note that many others here on Instructables recommend hardware cloth over chicken wire. I haven't experimented with it, though several folks were kind enough to comment that it's been more effective in blocking critters.
michaelb25 months ago
Great project. If the chicken wire is used to keep underground critters out, I would suggest hardware cloth. Chicken wire will not stop anything
I would also advise digging down about 4 to 6 inches into the soil to place the hardware cloth. This will enable fingerling carrots to grow and even some potatoes if you hill up the potatoes as they're growing. I'm actually growing potatoes in about 8 inches of soil. Don't get a ton of potatoes but then I plant about 16 plants of 3 different varieties so I do get a decent crop and I'm not planting to feed an army, just myself and a couple of friends. :)
acoens (author)  shalnachywyt5 months ago
michaelb2, many others seem to agree with you! I haven't had any issues with rodents burrowing, but it seems like hardware cloth is the crowd favorite.
GTO3x25 months ago
Neat corner idea - functional and stylish.
I have been gardening in raised beds lined with concrete block for nearly 20 years. My beds (of which there are 7 of them) are approximately 35 feet long by about 3 feet wide which enables me to easily get to the middle of the bed without getting my back thrown out.
After a while the soil does get compacted from the rain. The way to fix this is before you put the bed to "sleep" in the fall, go through the bed with a fork and simply lift the soil up a bit, then cover with mulch.
Grass cuttings only work as mulch if there are no seeds in them! If there are grass seeds, then mulch with wheat straw or very composted hay and/or manure. Be careful of wheat straw however. My last batch I got from Lowes had so many wheat berries in them that I'm now getting wheat growing in my beds. Grrrrr. Obviously the farmer providing the wheat straw doesn't have a clue as to how to go about it correctly.
acoens (author)  shalnachywyt5 months ago
Thanks for sharing all this great info shalnachywyt! Good advice and caution.
acoens (author)  GTO3x25 months ago
Thanks GTO3x2! I liked them, too.
RobertP435 months ago
What is the purpose of the chiken wire?
Groundhogs. I doubt it would stop moles, so size your wire to your pests.
acoens (author)  jimvandamme5 months ago
jimvandamme is right - it was intended for blocking critters. I haven't had any issues with burrowing rodents, though others have commented that there are better solutions.
leslielimpid5 months ago
I have used raised beds for more than 40 years and have a few suggestions based on experience.
1) Wood will eventually rot and if you have ants or termites they will love the damp wood in raised beds. Be Prepared to rebuild.
2) If you use 2x8 lumber in the 6" high corner blocks you will get an interlock between the blocks and a higher/deeper bed. min. 2 planks and 3 blocks high. I use wood corner blocks full height.
3) Chicken wire/paper at 6" depth will eliminate growing root crops like carrot,parsnip,beets also potatoes. It would be better to install non-woven landscape fabric at the bottom below shovel depth. Landscape fabric stapled to the insides will prevent weeds growing between the plank joints.
4) Grass cuttings make good mulch and add organics to the soil, composting kitchen waste (not meat scraps) and garden waste can eliminate the need for buying compost bags.
5) Planting seeds directly for most crops can eliminate buying potted plants. Tomatoes , Peppers and Egg Plant can be started in a tray on a heat pad at a window 5-6 weeks before transplanting.
Hope you continue to enjoy and learn gardening.

acoens (author)  leslielimpid5 months ago
What a wealth of knowledge! Thanks for making posting on Instructables a richer place where I can learn and share.

I have started to use seeds now that I'm more familiar with gardening (this Instructable was written after my first go at gardening - I'm on my 3rd season now and have learned so much each year!). I didn't have success with only using the window for lighting, but the glow lights are working like magic.
bault20555 months ago
Nice project. I built some recently and here a couple of things I learned. Use hardware cloth as was suggested. The chicken wire won't keep out gophers or moles. Instead of using paper most hardware stores sell weed block which is very effective and not really too expensive.
acoens (author)  bault20555 months ago
Great tip from all here! I followed advice from other family members and am constantly learning.
mwseniff15 months ago
The main thing to remember is to never step on or walk on you raised beds. One reason raised beds work so well is the soil is never compacted. This allows plenty of air to get to the roots and allows excess water to drain well. This also means you may need to water in dry periods more than a conventional garden. The real upside of the raised beds is that they will produce twice as many vegetables as a conventional plot. I have used raised beds for 18 years they are the only way to grow. Don’t forget to mulch!
acoens (author)  mwseniff15 months ago
Great points, mwsweniff1! I've been gardening this way for 3 seasons now and it's incredible how much my raised beds produce.
pemazzei5 months ago
Very nice!
acoens (author)  pemazzei5 months ago
Thanks pemazzei!
AnandM545 months ago
Great try friend !!
acoens (author)  AnandM545 months ago
Thanks AnandM54.