This year, I decided to use raised garden beds for my vegetable garden. I did a ton of research and decided it was my best option. I live in South Florida, so we get a lot of rain—and our soil is really sandy in some parts, with few nutrients.
I raise a garden to have fresh fruits and vegetables and save money on my groceries. But when I started shopping around for raised garden bed kits or pre-made ones, the prices were ridiculous. If you want one for the aesthetics, then sure, buy a fancy one. But I decided to go for the more frugal option—build one myself.
A little disclaimer: I am no master craftsman. I have no special skills that made this project easy for me. So if I can build my own raised garden beds, anyone can.
Why Should You Choose a Raised Garden Bed?
Raised garden beds offer a ton of benefits to you as the gardener, and to the plants you are growing.
- Fewer Weeds—Because the garden will be planted in separate soil from the ground, it gives you much more control over what grows in the beds. You will spend so much less time weeding your beautiful vegetable garden.
- More Veggies—Another perk of having different soil than the ground underneath is that your vegetables will be more plentiful. The quality of soil will allow you to have higher yields than a typical row garden.
- Longer Growing Season—Because the bed is raised, it will warm up much faster than the soil around it. This makes for a longer “season,” since seasons rely on soil temperature.
- Better Irrigation—If you live in a really rainy climate like I do, one of your fears is too much rain. Plants need rain but can easily be over saturated. Raised beds allow the water to escape the bed if there is too much of it.
How to Make Your Own Raised Garden Bed
This DIY project makes two 4 × 4 raised beds, each being 1 foot deep.
Supplies You’ll Need:
- 1 piece of 4 x 4 x 8 pressure-treated wood
- 8 pieces of 2 x 6 x 8 pressure-treated wood
- 1 box of 2 1/2-inch deck or outdoor screws. (Regular screws will start to rust, and your bed wont last as long.)
- Screwdriver or drill (I highly suggest a drill, but it can be done with a screwdriver.)
- Hand or electric saw
Preparing the Site:
Before you start, however, you’ll need to prep your site. You can do this in a couple of different ways.
The first option involves getting the location down to a flat dirt area. You will have to dig up all of the grass and the roots to get a nice, level, sandy area. Rake it out with a metal rake so you get rid of any rocks or roots left behind. I used this method with my first garden. It was very labor intensive but cheaper.
The other option that I chose to go with this year was to leave the ground as-is and lay a weak barrier over the entire area. I also used mulch in the walkways between each raised bed. To me, this is so pretty and you don’t have to fight the weeds as much later. The downside is that it costs a little more. You have to buy the weed barrier and landscape pins to secure them.
Once you decide which method to go with though, you’re ready to start building your raised garden bed.
- Cut your 4 x 4 x 8 into eight 1-foot sections.
- Cut each of the 2 x 6 x 8 pieces in half, creating 16 4-foot sections.
- Lay two of your 4 x 4 pieces down on a flat surface with about a 4-foot space.
- Place one of your 4-foot pieces flat on top of them. Line up the two edges that will become the top of your raised bed. Put two screws in on each side to secure the panel.
- Repeat the process with another panel, making sure it is pushed tight against the first one. There will be a little of the 4 x 4 post left over. This is OK, because it will be facing the ground and will help anchor it down.
- Repeat steps 3–5. You now have two full sides down.
- Stand those sides up with the flat level side down and spaced about 4 feet apart with the 4 x 4 posts on the inside.
- Screw panels onto the posts, making sure you have the end of the panel forming a right angle with the other panel.
- Repeat step 8 until all panels have been attached.
- Flip the entire box over, so that the flat side is up. You now have the corners as flat little seats.
- Put your raised garden bed wherever you want. Wiggle it back and forth so it gets firmly seated in its location.
- Fill with good soil, plant, and enjoy.
Cost Comparison Between DIY and Store Bought Garden Beds
I bought all of my supplies at Lowes because they give a military discount. (Which I love!!) But, these are the costs at regular price.
Severe Weather #2 Pressure Treated Lumber (Common: 4 x 4 x 8; Actual: 3.5-in x 3.5-in x 96-in) – $6.77
Top Choice #2 Prime Pressure Treated Lumber (Common: 2 x 6 x 8; Actual: 1.5-in x 5.5-in x 96-in)– $5.47 ea.
Total Lumber costs for 2 beds – $43.76
Grip-Rite 1-lb #9- 2.5-in x 2.5-in Pan-Head Polymer-Coated Star-Drive Composite Deck Screw – $8.68
Total Cost to build 2 raised garden beds – $52.44 ($26.22 each)
Closest comparable store bought raised garden bed: Frame It All 48-in L x 48-in W x 11-in H Composite– $119.99
That’s a savings of $93.77 for each one. I’m building 9 for my garden now!
Disclaimer: Blog post is a repost. Prices are as of 2016.