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Easy Raised Garden Bed – Building a DIY Raised Vegetable Garden Bed

Believe it or not, this easy raised garden bed can be completed in a couple of hours. Once you have the supplies on hand, most of the work comes from cutting and staining the boards.

If you have a very uneven ground area, you’ll need to add an hour for leveling the wall supports. Other than this, everything else is a slide into place assembly.

Raised garden beds have so many benefits. They are easy on the back, look great in a garden and you can make sure that the soil will be deep and rich even if your garden soil is less than you would like.

Even if you are very busy and don’t feel that you have time for a vegetable garden, try a garden bed that is raised off the ground.  This is a good type of garden to start with for those new to vegetable gardening.

You can set plants closer together and grow many vegetables in them.  You’ll enjoy eating from a raised bed all summer long.

Creating a raised bed so quickly and easily means that any gardener can experience the joy of vegetable gardening.

DIY raised garden bed - easy and quick garden bed planted with cucumbers.

It’s time to make over your garden with a flexible design made by stacking and linking boards with wall supports. This will give you a raised garden bed that is not only easy to build, it’s also flexible and can be enlarged or moved on a moment’s notice!

What is the key to this raised garden bed?

On a recent shopping trip to pick up some plants for my garden, I found an easy to build raised garden bed design at my local hardware store that used some cement blocks to use as supports for the walls of raised garden bed.

Tan planter wall blocks on a mulch bed.

The display showed a design in several layers and I was sold on the idea.

In the past, I constructed a cement blocks raised vegetable garden and still use it to grow vegetables. This design is taken to a whole new level in both ease of design, and beauty.

The supports for the new raised garden bed design are made of non-composite cement and completely garden safe. When you combine them with stained wood, the end result is less rustic than my cement blocks planter, very flexible and beautiful to look at.

The blocks can be stacked to make a raised garden bed design from 6 inches up to 2 feet tall.

Just slide wooden boards into the cement block slats to create walls for the garden bed. Boards can be cut to a size that fits your garden space.

Creating a raised garden bed

If you love to recycle, you may have some of the supplies  for this project on hand. My husband likes to use reclaimed wood in DIY projects. He’s made everything from snowman wall decorations to a cutting board holder for my kitchen cabinet door. 

Today, his afternoon was spent building two raised garden beds. I have to admit, they are one of his best projects to date!


Don't throw that old wood away. Combine them with planter wall blocks for the easiest and most inexpensive raised garden bed yet. Find out how to make one on The Gardening Cook.🥒🌽🥬🥕 Click To Tweet

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Easy raised garden bed supplies

My garden beds ended up being approximately 4 feet square. (Your size may vary according to the space you have.) The only things we had to purchase were the concrete wall blocks, the soil and the plants.

All of the other items were things we had on hand. Pre-manufactured raised vegetable beds can be very costly but these beds were very inexpensive to make.

Our cost was just $16 for the blocks and $4 for the soil for each bed. $40 for two raised garden beds is a bargain in my book!

You’ll need these supplies to complete each raised garden bed:

  • 8 lengths of 2 x 6 inch boards. Ours were cut to 4 feet two inches (2) and 3 feet nine inches (2). If you use treated lumber, the raised bed will last longer.
  • Newcastle cement planter wall blocks – we purchased ours at Home Depot.
  • 4 pieces of rebar – used to stabilize the sides so the garden bed doesn’t move. Not required but they do make the beds more sturdy.
  • 1/4 quart of rustic oak stain. You don’t have to stain the boards but I love the way they look when finished, and it didn’t take long to stain them.
  • 12 cubic feet of soil. I used 50/50 compost and topsoil mix and we bought it in bulk from a garden supply store. If you purchase the soil in bags, it’ll cost much more.
  • Vegetable garden plants or seeds. I planted cucumbers and yellow onions.

You will also need a skill saw or hand saw to cut the boards, a paintbrush to stain the boards, a spirit level and a rubber mallet.

Building the easy raised garden bed

Now that you have your supplies, it’s time for building raised bed garden boxes. Let’s learn how to do it!

Two of these garden beds took us about 3 hours to make. If you have a level piece of garden, you can deduct an hour from this time. Leveling was a big part of the project for our beds.

Start by tilling the soil under the area where the garden bed will be. The raised beds have no bottoms, so it is useful for the area to have loose soil under  the compost/top soil mix so the roots will grow well into the dirt.Long hand till and loose soil.

Once the soil was soft, place the cement planter wall blocks in place and move them around until you have the size of garden bed that you want.

Now is a good time to cut and stain the boards. They can dry while you are leveling the garden bed.

Pressure treated wood manufactured after 2003 is safer for vegetable garden beds.  (see the note in the FAQ section about wood for raised beds.)

Cut two boards for the front and back the same length and two boards for the two sides the same length. (All can be the same length if you want the raised garden bed to be square.)

Lengths of boards stained with rustic oak wood stain.

Next, slip the boards into the block slats and use a spirit level to make sure that the supports are level and even.

Since there will be loose soil from tilling the area, it is just a matter of adding soil under any low block supports, and using the spirt level again until everything is even and level.

Man leveling the sides of a raised garden bed.

Once everything is level, add a second layer of planter wall blocks on top of the first row and slide your painted boards into the slats on the sides of the supports.

Push a piece of rebar down into the center hole of each planter wall block.

Rebar into the end of concrete block supports and rubber mallet.

A rubber mallet will help you hammer the rebar down into the earth. The rebar will give the structure stability and keep it square and less likely to shift from the weight of the soil.

Now is the time to add the soil. You can buy garden soil in a 50/50 mixture of compost and top soil at garden supply centers by the cubic yard. This is a very cost efficient way of filling a large area with soil.

You can also purchase soil and compost by the bag at any big box hardware store, but this will add to the price of the raised garden bed significantly.

Wheel barrow and shovel with soil for a raised garden bed.

Time to plant the raised garden bed!

Now is the fun part. Choose your plants and plant them in the raised vegetable garden bed. I planted burpless cucumbers and pickling cucumbers and added yellow onions from sets all around the edge.

These two plants are good companion plants and planting them together in one bed makes the most of the space that I have.

One of the benefits of a raised bed is that you can plant much more closely than you can in a garden grown in the ground.

You can plant seedlings or heirloom garden seeds. Think of all the lovely meals to come when it’s time to harvest!

Raised garden bed planted with cucumber plants.

Raised garden bed FAQ

These are some of the questions that I often receive about building a raised garden bed. Hopefully, the answers will help.

What kind of wood should be used for raised beds?

For durable and long lasting raised beds, cedars is the best wood to use. Cedar naturally resists rot and water is the most common reason that wood on raised beds doesn’t last.

Some quality choices are Vermont white cedar, yellow cedar and juniper.

If you are using recycled wood, be aware that pressure treated wood made before 2003 was commonly preserved with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) as its primary rot protectant.

If you use older pressure treated wood,  the EPA studies show that using a penetrating oil finish can reduce or eliminate exposure to CCA.

Newer pressure treated wood made after 2003 is treated differently and should be safe to use in raised beds.

Mans hands planting tomatoes.

How many tomato plants can you grow in a raised garden bed?

One of the beauties of raised garden beds is that you can space your plants more close together. Many people like to grow tomatoes in raised beds.

Normally, tomato plants need a spacing of 8-24 inches. However, in a raised bed about 4 feet x 4 feet, you can plant 4-5 tomato plants.

Determinate tomato plants take up less space. If you are growing indeterminate tomato plants, you might only be able to fit 3 plants in a 4 foot square raised bed.

How deep should a raised garden bed be?

One of the nice things about raised beds is that they don’t have to be deep to grow plants well. The size depends on what you will be growing in the raised bed.

For flowers, as long as your bed is 8-12 inches tall, you will be fine.

Vegetable raised garden beds need more room for roots to grow, so they should be 12-18 inches deep.

What do you put in the bottom of a raised garden bed?

I have soil in my garden that has been enriched with compost, so I didn’t add any extra material to the bottom.

For garden bed grown on top of lawn, it’s a good idea to add organic matter such as leaves, straw, grass clippings and old garden refuse. Over this, a layer or cardboard should be placed.

The organic matter will turn into compost and the cardboard will make sure that weeds are not a problem in your garden bed.

Man with a shovel scooping organic matter from a wheelbarrow.

What is the best soil for a raised vegetable garden bed?

If you are growing vegetables in the raised bed be sure to include lots of organic matter and compost to the soil. It is desirable that the finished soil will not be too compacted or too sandy.

You will also want it to drain well and organic matter accomplishes this. 

Adding garden refuse to the bottom of your soil helps. Items such as leaves, finished flowers and bulb leaves, grass clippings, straw and other organic matter will make sure that the soil is nutrient rich.

What size should a raised garden bed be?

For ease of harvesting and tending the plants, raised beds are best if they are kept to a maximum of four feet wide. You won’t need to step into the bed if you keep to this size.

For raised beds that are planted against a wall, it’s best to keep the size to 2-3 feet wide. This is because you will only be able to tend the bed from one side.

Pin these easy raised garden bed plans for later

Would you like a reminder of this tutorial for building a raised garden bed for vegetables? Just pin this image to one of your gardening boards on Pinterest so that you an easily find it later.

Raised garden bed near a lawn with text overlay reading easy raised garden bed.

You can also watch our raised bed tutorial video on YouTube.

Yield: 1 raised garden bed

Easy Raised Garden Bed

RAised garden bed hear a lawn with a forsythia shrub.

This easy raised garden bed is flexible in design, beautiful to look at and it can be completed in just a few hours.

Active Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $20

Materials

  • 8 lengths of 2 x 6 inch pressure treated boards. Cut to the size of your space. (Mine were approximately 4 feet long.)
  • 8  Newcastle cement planter wall blocks
  • 4 pieces of rebar
  • 1/4 quart of rustic oak stain
  • 12 cubic feet of soil. )I used 50/50 compost and topsoil mix) 
  • Vegetable garden plants

Tools

  • Skill saw or hand saw
  • Paint brush
  • Rubber mallet
  • Spirit level
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow

Instructions

  1. Start by tilling the soil under the area where the garden bed will be.
  2. Place the cement planter wall blocks in place and move them around until you have a planter the size you want.
  3. Cut the boards to size, making sure the you have two of each length.
  4. Stain the boards, if desired, and allow to dry while you level the end supports.
  5. Slip the cut boards into the block slats and use a spirit level to make sure that the supports are level and even.
  6. Add soil under any low block supports, and use the spirt level again until everything is even and level.
  7. Once the supports are level, add a second layer of wall black supports and push a piece of rebar down the center hole.
  8. Use a rubber mallet to pound the rebar into the ground below until it is flush with the top of the blocks.
  9. Fill the raised bed with a mixture of compost and top soil.
  10. Plant vegetable plants or vegetable seeds and water well until the plants produce a harvest for you.

Notes

The cost for this project will vary. We used reclaimed wood, bought compost/soil in bulk and had both rebar and stain on hand. If you have to purchase soil in bags and treated lumber, your cost will be much more.

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