So you’ve decided to grow a garden this year, but you’re trying to figure out where to put it without turning your lawn into a farmer’s field. Time to build a raised garden bed.
Let’s just say you’re building an 8 ft x 4 ft bed; the first thing to do is locate the best plot for your new garden. This is not only the place with the best sunlight/shade for what you’ll be growing, but also the section of your yard you are willing to repurpose. Make it convenient, but not somewhere that’s always in the way. Pick a spot that’s easy to get to with the garden hose and perhaps your compost (see Nspire Summer/Fall 2014). Once you’ve picked the perfect location, be sure to measure the area, making sure to leave enough space to get around it with your lawn mower, as well as enough room to garden comfortably from all sides. When you’re happy with the location, it’s time to go shopping.
When perusing lumber, hand-select your boards. Don’t purchase anything you’re not happy with (bad knots, severe warping and splitting are no fun). For your 8×4 garden bed, you’ll need SIX 8 ft 2×6 boards, and ONE 8 ft 4×4 post. Untreated pine should last up to three years. Weather treated boards last up to ten, but are more expensive. Never use railroad ties. Don’t forget screws, and grab a role of landscape fabric to line your garden bed.
It’s best to build the bed on sight (it’s heavy). Mark your garden plot, measuring it appropriately. Cut TWO of your 4 ft 2x6s in half, leaving you a total of FOUR 4 ft lengths, and FOUR 8 ft 2×6 lengths.
Next, cut the 4×4 into FOUR 2 ft lengths. Attach 2x6s side-by-side to 4×4 corners, making the height of the entire 2×6 frame 12 inches on all four sides. The 4×4 corner posts will extend 12 inches beyond the height of the 2×6 frame. Dig one 12-inch post hole at each corner of your plot.
When finished, turn over the soil in your chosen location. This allows for leveling, and improves drainage. Once level, place your frame, fitting the corner posts into the post holes for an extremely stable garden bed. Line the bottom with landscape fabric, and fill with your best organic garden soil and compost. That’s it. You’re ready to start planting.