Easy Raised Garden Bed Design Pinterest Pin

It’s finally spring and I’m using every excuse to get outside and plant things! I haven’t had the chance to start a vegetable garden since moving into this house and I decided that this was the year to make it happen. After landing on the perfect spot, I began creating the plan for building a raised garden bed. It was super simple and I built it in just one afternoon. Read on to see my easy raised garden bed design and tips/tricks on filling it with the best stuff for your veggies.  

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Raised Garden Bed Design

Picking a spot for your raised garden bed:

I’m not kidding when I say that the hardest part of this project was picking the best spot. I considered various locations over the course of several days before deciding on one. Here’s what to consider:

  • Most vegetables needs at least 6 hours of sun per day. You might also be able to get away with 5 hours of direct sun followed by a few hours of dappled sun.
  • Morning sun is better than afternoon sun.
  • Conversely, avoid placing your garden in a location that will receive 10-12 hours of sun, unless you plan on using a shade cover. That’s just too much summer heat for those little plants!
  • Avoid placing your garden directly under a tree. Not only will you have a ton of bird poop on your veggies, you’ll also have to spend a lot of time getting all of the unwanted tree matter out of the soil. It will also be rather difficult to achieve the recommended 6 hours of sun/day.
  • Avoid placing your garden directly against your house or another structure. When it rains, the roof run-off will pour into your garden causing overly saturated soil, potential damage to your plants, and the potential for contaminants. Keep a foot or more between your garden and other structures to minimize this risk.
  • Consider where you apply most of your pest control – you’ll want to avoid spraying pesticides or weed control products close to your garden.
What to fill raised garden beds with

What should you use to fill your garden bed?

There are many different methods on filling a raised garden bed and every gardener has their own tips/tricks. However, most gardeners can agree that it’s best to include a bunch of nutrient-rich, organic matter. Not only will this deliver the most important nutrients to your plants, but it will support airflow through the soil and promote moisture retention without the risk of becoming water-logged.

Compost is an amazing addition to soil and it can be added throughout the season to promote healthy growth. Consider starting a compost pile in your yard or purchasing compost from a local garden center.

Another great way to get some organic matter into your garden is to add a layer of leaves and grass clippings before adding the soil or any other garden bed filler.

So, after a ton of research and taking a look at what was readily available in my area, I decided to fill my raised garden bed with these products:

  • Organic peat moss
  • Cow manure
  • Organic gardening soil

I also added these two products to boost the nutrient content:

Bone Meal adds nutrients to Raised Garden Bed soil

Note: When using peat moss, I recommend soaking it with water while it’s still in the bag to prevent the risk of inhalation. Peat moss is very lightweight and fine and can easily become airborne when dry.

For this 4-foot by 8-foot raised garden bed, I used 3 cubic feet of compact peat moss, 4.5 cubic feet of cow manure/compost, and 14 cubic feet of garden bed soil. I still had an inch or two of space at the top to add some additional filling if desired.

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How large should my raised garden bed design be?

To determine the ideal size of your garden, keep in mind that each plant will need up to 2 feet of space on each side. This will allow it to grow to full size as well as reduce the risk of mold and fungus. Most pepper and tomato varieties should be planted 12-18 inches apart while many squash varieties need to be planted 2-4 feet apart.

I chose to create a 4’ by 8’ raised garden bed design based on the garden location and the variety of plants I wanted to grow.

A huge part of what makes this design so simple is that most wood is available in 8’ planks. This means you only need to purchase three of them for the entire project – two for the long sides and one cut in half for the short sides.

To keep this project simple, I kept the height of the raised garden bed equal to the width of one plank, roughly 9.5 inches. Many raised garden beds use 2 planks stacked on top of each other for a deeper bed. You can absolutely choose to go this route and just need to double the number of planks you purchase. Your small corner support pieces will also need to be twice as long.

You could also adjust this design to create a 3’x6′ or a 5’x10′ design depending on the lengths of wood available to you.

Raised Garden Bed Design

Here’s what you’ll need to make this raised garden bed:

  • (3) 8-foot 1”x10” pieces of wood (cedar is best for longevity but I used common board because it was WAY less expensive)
  • (4) 9-inch 2”x2”’s (or whatever scrap wood you have on hand that will fit in the corners)
  • (32) 2” decking screws
  • A drill with drill bits (this is the kit I use)
  • A shovel
  • A miter saw (this is the one we have and it’s awesome) or opt to get the wood cut for you at the store

How to build it:

  1. Begin by placing the wood in their approximate locations.
  1. Loosen up the grass/dirt inside the walls of the garden. Using a shovel or tiller, loosen up the grass and dirt upon which you’ll build your garden bed. You don’t need to remove the grass completely but loosening the dirt will allow the plants roots to penetrate the original soil layer.
  1. Pre-drill four screw holes from the front of one long board into the end of a short board. For a cleaner look from the front, I chose to have the long sides drilled into the ends of the short side pieces.
Drilling holes into sides of raised garden bed
  1. Insert four screws into the holes you just drilled.
  1. Repeat steps 3 and 4 on all four corners.
  1. Increase support by adding a piece of scrap wood in each corner. Pre-drill 2 holes, from the front of each side into the piece of scrap wood, and insert screws. These extra support pieces will give the raised garden bed some added stability and strength.
Screw supports into sides
  1. Fill it up! Add the optional layer of leaves or grass clippings first. Then, lay the moistened peat moss followed by the compost/cow manure. Mix together with a shovel or gardeners rake. Sprinkle a few cups of the bone meal on top and then add the garden soil. Mix together again and you’re done!
cow manure adds valuable nutrients to garden soil

Optional: Some gardeners like to place a layer of landscaping fabric over the grass before they begin adding their soils. I chose not to do this because the height of this raised garden bed is less than a foot and I would like to allow plant roots to grow into the original soil if they need/want to do so.

There you have it! An easy raised garden bed design that’ll have you picking fresh veggies in no time!

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