Welcome back to my garden informational series! If you are new, hello! I have been going over some FAQ and general information regarding our garden project. When we last spoke about the garden, I discussed our garden fence– If you’ve missed any previous post, feel free to click the links below to visit them and learn more about how we built up our garden so far!
And now finally: DIY Raised Garden Boxes
I honestly love the journey that the decision to build up a garden has taken us on. I find so much peace and comfort in being able to tend to a brand new veggie sprout, and yet have learned so much from the loss of one too. Being in the garden is teaching me to be flexible, and I’m learning to roll with the punches, because even if a growing season goes perfectly, we aren’t guaranteed the same results next year, and I think that reflects a lot of life. I’m thankful for each lesson my growing garden has presented to me, and the ability I have to choose learn every day.
Last year, I built two raised garden beds to get my garden started (my first season being spring of 2021), but for the fall, I wanted to be able to experiement with more fall vegetables. So, I doubled our garden by adding in two more raised garden boxes, and I’m so happy with how much fuller the garden area is now. I’ve left some space to add more boxes later on, but right now I’m extremely happy with the four boxes I have. Scroll down for a material list and instructions.
As always, you can find more videos and updates on my Instagram: @theroostingplace
Why Raised Garden Boxes?
Raised garden boxes have many benefits such as:
Manageability: Raised beds offer a manageable way to garden a smaller space intensively.
Prevention of soil compaction and plant damage: One of the greatest advantages of raised beds comes from the protection the structure provides from foot traffic, especially from children working in a garden area. Since people work on the paths and don’t walk in well-designed raised beds, the soil does not get compacted and plants are less likely to be damaged.
Longer growing season: Raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring and drain better (assuming the soil is properly prepared), allowing for a longer growing season and better growing conditions. Particularly in the South, a properly prepared raised bed allows plant roots to breathe.
Less weeding and maintenance: Once the soil in a raised bed has stabilized, compaction is almost non-existent so the need for seasonal tilling is minimal. Weed populations decrease over time in a raised bed that is well cared for and mulched.
Better drainage: A well-prepared raised bed allows the soil to drain better than in an in-ground garden. In some areas of Georgia, the soil drains so poorly that raised beds enable gardening of crops that would not otherwise grow.
Easier soil amendments: A raised bed can enable crop growth in an area that otherwise would not support gardening. On steep slopes, raised beds can act as a form of terracing. Raised beds can be built on parking lots and other compacted, difficult-to-garden urban soils. For specific crops that thrive in particular soils, raised beds can be amended appropriately.
Material conservation: Because the gardening space is concentrated, the management of water, fertilizer, mulch and soil amendments can be more carefully controlled, leading to less waste.
Access for gardeners with disabilities: Raised beds, at the proper height, can improve access for wheelchairs, or for gardeners who have a hard time bending over.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are the dimensions?
4′ X 6′ X 27.5″
Why so tall?
Because I like them tall!
What kind of lumber?
Does the stain affect the soil?
Nope! My beds are lined, therefore the stain never comes in contact with the soil
Why line your beds?
Adding a liner protects my wood from water damage, adds insulation, and helps retain moisture!
Are they filled from the bottom?
Nope! There is a wire “hammock” about 12″ from the ground to reduce the amount of soil it takes to fill these.
What color stain did you use?
I used Thompson WaterSeal in Transparent Teak for the base. This provides and excellent seal and water protection for my wood. When that color turned out too orange on my whitewood, I used briarsmoke and early american over the top to give a “weathered” look that matched the older boxes.
How much did this cost to build?
Since I was able to repurpose some extra 2×4’s, and we already had our screws and stain on hand, I can only give a rough estimate. As of August 2021, if you bought all the materials at once once box will cost you (very rough math) $250-$275.
What do you use to fill your boxes?
You can find my soil “recipe” here.
There are so many ways that someone can build a raised bed, and not every method will be a good fit for everyone. But I’m here to share with you how I built mine and the lessons I learned so that you can put this insight into your arsenal to use if you choose. I am not claiming to be an expert, and I am sure there are alternatives/additions to include to get the most out of your boxes. But these are what work for me and my garden. I also will add now, that I chose to line my boxes, so this method is not 100% “organic”, and you should seek out other wood materials (cedar) should you not wish to line your boxes.
Below are the materials for O N E 4′ X 6′ X 27″ raised garden box using my building designs. I chose to stain my boards after lining the interior to preserve the integrity of the wood, but if you prefer to not use stain, opt for a wood with more reputable longevity, like cedar.
- 12– 1″x 6″ x 4′ white wood board
- 12– 1″ x 6″ x 6′ white wood board
- 6– 2″ x 4″ x 6′ (for corner supports and wire “hammock” frame)
- Hardware cloth
- Landscape fabric
- 16 washers
- 2″ wood screws
- 4″ wood screws
- Exterior stain of choice (preferably a waterseal)
Cut down 6 of your 2×4’s to the height of your box. (For my boxes, stacking 5-1″x 6″ came out to 27.5″ tall.) We then started at the bottom, and began attaching the boards from the outside to the four corner 2×4’s using 2″ screws. Stack your sides and continue around until you have reached your desired height. Then, add the last 2×4’s that were cut to height in the center.
Next, add your liner to the inside of your box, covering all the sides, but leaving the bottom open for drainage. Secure with staples.
Once your liner is attached, It is now time to go in and build your frame that the mesh hammock will attach to. Using remaining 2×4’s attach a middle support using 4″ screws in the middle of your box, then along the sides in between the 4 corners. Attach from the outside and use 4″ screws to prevent collapse. It is ok if the screws poke through on the inside, these will be covered. Attach your wire using staples, and secure with washers and 2″ screws. (Just for scale, I can easily fit under these boxes…apologies for the strange photo…this is the only one I managed to get that shows this finished step…)
Next, lay your landscape fabric over the mesh and secure with staples. This is the final step of the “hammock”.
Lastly, attach your top shelve boards. I used 2″ screws to secure on the corners and in the middle, giving about 2″ of overhang. These are super helpful when resting on the boxes, or having a place to set your shears/seeds down!
Last, apply your stain. Choose a water-sealant as your base and then build any other color variations from there. You want to protect your wood, anda sealant is the most important part in that. I used Thompson Water Seal in Transparent Teak (the same that is on my Coop) and when it took more orange on the white wood, I went over top with some briar smoke and early american to give a more “weathered” look that matched the older boxes.
That’s pretty much all there is to these. The wire has held up great, even after filling with soil and water retention. You can opt to completely fill your boxes, but this method reduces the amount of material needed to fill a box. You can find my soil “recipe” here. (It’s a variation of Mel’s Mix that gives light, fluffly, well-draining soil)!