After we purchased our home last year, I was very excited to begin gardening. However, by the time I was finished removing old landscaping and redoing the front yard and flower bed, I had run out of time to plant a proper garden. That meant that I had about nine months to ‘plot’ (pun intended) my garden. After much thought, I decided I liked the idea of a raised garden bed instead of a traditional garden. There were several reasons for my decision: less weeding, less space, more veggies in a smaller space, and better soil composition.
So I started researching how to create my own raised garden bed. I soon found out that there were several things to consider:
- How large do I want the bed? I opted for one 4′ x 4′ bed. That way I could have multiple beds and still reach all the plants to weed and pick the produce.
- How many raised beds? At first, I was going to build two beds. Then I decided to start small and experiment this year with soil composition, height, veggies, etc.
- How deep? I read several articles and blogs about the ideal depth and decided on a 12″ the depth would work for my garden. Generally 6″ is the minimum.
- What material? There are several composite material garden beds on the market that had good reviews. I decided to go with cedar because it is natural, resists rotting and is durable.
- Build my own or purchase one? I priced out all of the materials that I would need to build my own: boards, stakes, brackets, screws, etc. Then I went online and looked at cedar beds. I found a raised garden kit at Costco by Grownomics that was cheaper than building my own and required NO TOOLS. Sold!
It took a little bit of labor, but the delicious benefits will make it all worth it. Here are the steps I took to create my own 4′ x 4′ raised garden bed.
1. Gather your tools
- Square shovel
- Measuring tape
- Utility knife
- Raised Garden Bed Kit (I used a Grownomics cedar kit)
- 10.8 cubic feet of top soil
- 5.4 cubic feet of mushroom compost
- 1.8 cubic feet of potting soil
- Weed blocker landscape fabric
- Garden gloves
2. Measure plot and cut a square in the soil
I am going to start an additional garden next year, so I found the perfects spot and measured out a square. I used the measuring tape as a guide, then used the square shovel to cut into the grass down to the soil. I continued this on all four sides of the square.
3. Cut out the grass in 1’x 1′ sections
I decided to reuse the grass as sod on another part of my lawn, so I cut out the soil in 1′ x 1′ sections and rolled up the sod to transfer it. I tried larger sections, but they became to heavy and cumbersome to carry without a wheelbarrow.
4. Keep removing sod
It’s a lot of work, but someone has to do it.
5. Take a break
My dog Goose was ‘helping’ and decided that now was a great time to take a break. It’s important to stay hydrated and follow Goose’s suit. Just try not to drool on the lawn.
6. Clean up the edges.
Once you’ve removed all the sod, clean up the edges.
7. Dump out your bed pieces
This kit requires no tools. Assembly is simple. There are four posts with grooves and eight boards total.
8. Insert the boards into the grooves in the posts and repeat 4 times
Make sure that your boards are level and all the way down in the grooves. I didn’t need any tools, but I did use my feet to pound the boards into place.
9. Repeat with the second row
I continued with the remaining four boards and made sure there were no gaps.
Make sure all sides are level to help with drainage. If not, you can still move the box to dig more.
10. Gather all of your soil, compost and weed blocker.
There was a sale on .75 cubic feet soil, so I purchased 13 bags. For mushroom compost, they too were .75 cubic feet, so I purchased 7. I purchased one 2 cubic foot potting soil bag with moisture control. And one 5-year weed blocking landscape paper. This handy soil calculator made it easy to determine the amount of soil and compost that I needed.
11. Cut the weed blocker
You can use burlap or weed blocker fabric to help your garden stay weed free and let it establish. I recommend cutting the fabric a bit larger than you need so that it can cling up the sides.
12. Add the weed blocker
Lay the weed blocker on the floor of the bed. Then use a bit of soil to hold the fabric in place. Plus, don’t forget to position the soil so that the corners and sides have fabric coming up the inside of the wood. This will block those tricky weeds.
13. Time for the soil
Now it’s time to get dirty. I dumped the top soil and mushroom compost together and tried to spread it out evenly. Then I finished with my moisture control potting soil on top. My mom taught me that trick. Because the potting soil has the moisture control and the plant food, it will seep into the soil. Good thinking, ma!
And it’s finished. Now it’s time to not-so-patiently wait to plant. In the local climate, it’s best to wait until after Mother’s Day (according to my mom and we all know mom knows best.) Enjoy your veggies!