How to Build a Garden Bed | Almanac.com

How to Build a Garden Bed

How to Build a Garden Bed from The 2016 Garden Guide!

You do not need to spend a lot of money to build your own raised garden bed. It is also simple to put together! Below is a list of supplies and instructions you will need to construct your very own 4x4-foot bed. (See video above for visual aid!)

For each 4x4-foot bed, you will need:

  •  (2) 1x8-inch cedar boards. Cedar does not rot with age. It comes in 8-foot lengths, perfect for 4x4-foot beds. Cut each board in half, making four 4-foot-long pieces. (Or, have someone at the home improvement or lumber store make the cuts. Many places will do it for free.) 
  • Galvanized nails
  • 3-foot length of 1x1-inch pine stake. Cut it into four pieces. 

For convenience, construct the bed on or near the section of mowed lawn or other level spot—preferably in the sunon which you will garden. Make sure to remove any top growth before building the bed. 

Use each piece of stake as a corner to brace the cedar where they meet. Nail through the stake into the end of each board. 

After situating the bed, put down four layers of newspaper or one layer of cardboard in the bed to supress grass and weeds. Paper and cardboard will degrade fully over time and feed the soil. If you have a critter problem, lay down some wire fencing. For extra protection, line the bed with landscaping fabric or hardware cloth

Raised Bed Soil Mix

The more organic matter in your raised bed soil, the better. Here’s a soil recipe for one 4x4-foot raised bed. (Multiply amounts to fill more or larger beds.)

  • 2 bags (2 cubic feet each) topsoil
  • 1 bale (3 cubic feet) peat moss
  • 1 bag (2 to 3 cubic feet) compost or composted cow manure
  • shredded leaves or grass clippings to make a 2-inch-thick layer

Make sure that any grass clippings have not been treated with herbicides or a fertilizer that contains granular herbicides to kill weeds. Both persist and will kill plants in beds up to 3 years after the initial application.

Mix all of the soil materials with a hoe or cultivator. The most effective way is to mix it in layers. First pour and even out the topsoil. Pour the compost on top and mix it with the topsoil. Finally, pour the peat moss and mix it using a digging motion. Once all ingredients are mixed, water … then water some more!  

(Optional) Add nutrients of your choice to the soil and mix gently. 

Next, position your plants in the bed, before removing pots and planting. 

Tip: To protect your plants from aphids, plant marigolds! 

If you have pets, protect your bed with wire fencing, leaving a section that you can open and close for easy access. 

Add grass clippings or other mulch to keep moisture in the soil and weeds out. 

Remember that frequent wateringespecially in the early stages of plant growth and during the hot days of summerwill be critical. 

Benefits of a Raised Garden Bed

  • Ideal for smaller spaces
  • Great for rocky, poor, or abused soil
  • Produces a high yield for the area, thanks to better drainage and deep rooting
  • Allows for a longer growing season, since you can work the soil earlier in the spring in frost-hardened regions


The 2016 Garden Guide is now available! 

Colorful and comprehensive, our 2016 Garden Guide covers it all - from veggies, fruit, and herbs to flowers and easy landscaping. 

To learn more and get your copy, click here

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