Building Our Raised Beds

Last year we made our first foray into raised bed gardening. Our attempts directly in the ground had always failed (most likely because of the awful soil we have). But last year was a big success, so we’re sold on using raised beds.

I wasn’t very happy with the beds we built last year (1″ cedar just isn’t strong enough to hold in dirt without warping) and we wanted a much bigger garden this year anyways, so we pulled out the old beds and significantly expanded our growing space by building some new beds!

This past week I went to Home Depot and picked up the materials to build seven new raised beds using pressure-treated 2×8′s. I’m aware of the “pressure treated” controversy, but decided based on the research I’ve read, that it’s just not an issue.

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At any rate, here’s the materials we used:

  • 17 – 16 foot 2×8″ pressure treated pine
  • 4 – 6 foot 4×4″ pressure treated pine
  • Box of 3.5″ screws

Each box was made of…

  • 2 – 15′ lengths of 2×8
  • 2 – 3′ lengths of 2×8
  • 4 – 10″ lengths of 4×4

I made the 4×4′s a couple of inches taller than the main boards to give me some room to work with our painfully un-level yard (which turns out was a GREAT idea on my part…high five, me!).

Then you just put the 4×4′s in the corners, put 3 screws on each side of each corner and BOOM! Raised bed. That weighs a metric ton (pressure treated wood is stupid heavy).

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raised_beds-4
raised_beds-4
raised_beds-4
raised_beds-4

Then, we hauled the beds out in to the yard and got them leveled.

Using the skid-steer definitely saved us a ton of time and energy, but I still had to pickaxe for a couple of hours to get the beds how I wanted them.

Next up, we’ll truck in a few yards of top soil to fill in some dips in the yard, then it’ll be compost time! Whoohoo!

We now have about 315 sq/ft of planting space, compared to the 144 sq/ft we had last year.

How about you? Do you use raised beds?

  • Doug Marrs

    Do you plan to line the beds with a liner to prevent the treated wood from leaching chemicals into your soil?

  • http://tinyfarmstead.wpengine.com Josh

    @Doug: No plans on doing that. The potential risk of any kind of “leaching” of anything even remotely harmful is just too small to be worth spending 2 or 3 times as much on different types of wood (like cedar or redwood).

    Here’s a good article on the matter: http://www.gardeningblog.net/2009/04/12/using-pressure-treated-lumber-in-raised-garden-beds/

  • Doug Marrs

    Great tutorial on raised beds, what zone are you in and what are your planting plans?
    SPIN, French intensive, etc???

  • http://tinyfarmstead.wpengine.com Josh

    Thanks Doug! I’m in zone 8A, and we’ve got seedlings started for I think around 30 different fruits/veggies.

    http://tinyfarmstead.com/what-were-planting-this-spring/

    We’ll be doing classic square foot gardening.

  • Doug Marrs

    Josh thanks for the link on treated CCA lumber in raised beds I will disseminate widely since the CC A meme is still used as the norm since no A is in treated lumber anymore then treated lumber sounds like a good alternative to cedar

  • http://chrisbowler.com Chris Bowler

    Nice, we built some similar beds last year. We went a little higher, so you could sit comfortably on the side, rather than squat.

    PS What is the vehicle? One of those half car, half truck jobs?

  • http://tinyfarmstead.wpengine.com Josh

    @Chris: It’s just a regular pickup truck (a Chevy Sonoma, specifically). It happens to be riddin’ low in the photo since it’s weighted down with a ton of heavy pressure treated wood. :)