Published on September 15th, 2011 | by Becky Striepe0
Weekend Project: Build a Raised Bed Garden
A raised bed is a great way to get around weed problems and easily start a garden in areas with poor soil quality.
My house is in town in Atlanta, so we struggle with both. A lot of our soil is pretty hard clay, and there are weeds everywhere. There’s also quite a bit of buried yard debris, from bricks to broken glass to stranger finds. My neighbor once found an entire bed frame when he was digging in his yard!
The green do-nannys sticking up there are sprinkler heads. My husband had already run them through the yard, so we fed these two up into the beds to make watering easier. They’re not included in these instructions, since I’m not 100% sure how he set that part up.
Our seedlings are getting big. Before we know it, it’s going to be time to put those babies in the ground, which means that raised bed needs to be ready at any moment. Over the weekend, my husband and I put together a custom raised bed for our garden. Yay! Here’s how you can build your own.
A Little Raised Bed Garden Math
Don’t despair! This is super simple math. I did the more annoying figuring when we built our bed, and there are only a few little things you need to figure on your own. I’m including my measurements, so if you’re very intimidated by math, you can just build the same sized bed that we did.
Since the whole joy of building your own raised bed is that it can fit into your own space, I’m not going to give measurements. It’s easy as pie to calculate your lengths and widths. Here’s how:
- Measure the length and width that you want.
- Subtract 2″ from each measurement. Let’s call that length L and that width, W, OK? You want these numbers in inches. My lengths (after subtracting) ended up being 34″ and 110″ to fit into the little space we’d set aside.
You also need to know how much soil to buy, which means you need to calculate the cubic feet of your bed. Don’t worry! There’s no fancy math involved. Just grab your calculator and do this:
L X W ÷ 144
So, our bed was 34 x 110 ÷ 144 = 25.9. That means we needed 26 cubic feet of potting soil to fill our bed.
Got your measurements? You’re ready to head out to the hardware store! Here’s what you’re picking up:
- Two pieces of untreated wood at length L and two at length W.
- eight #8 3″ wood screws
- 5/32″ drill bit and a drill (optional, but it’s much, much, much easier if you pre-drill the holes)
VERY IMPORTANT: Because you’re growing food, you need to get untreated wood. Treated wood is full of all sorts of chemicals, and you don’t want them leaching into your food.
For our raised beds, we needed two 2 x 12 x 12 boards and had them cut into two pieces: 34″ and 110″. We’d originally calcluated 36″ and 112″, but I remathed at the store so that we could do this with just two boards instead of buying a third and wasting a bunch of wood. I’m mentioning this because you might find yourself in a similar situation, so it’s a good idea to bring a calculator to the store, just in case. You can totally just stick to the measurements you got, but you might end up with left over wood.
Regardless of what length board you end up buying, make sure they cut it from a 2 x 12, because you used those numbers to caculate the lengths of your boards and the volume of the bed.