How We Built Our Raised Garden Bed

If you open up my book of bucket-list items, you will find, “Have a successful garden.” in the first couple pages. Gardening has been a life-long dream of mine.

 Found the cutest little nursery called Green N growing! Not only did they help me find the soil for my gardening needs, it’s hella peaceful there and they sell FIDDLE LEAF FIGS.  Photography: Mi Marie Studios

Found the cutest little nursery called Green N growing! Not only did they help me find the soil for my gardening needs, it’s hella peaceful there and they sell FIDDLE LEAF FIGS.

Photography: Mi Marie Studios

I did have a tomato garden when I was 15, and it was fantastic! They were the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten in my life… and then the deer found them and enjoyed them just as much (LOL). Ever since I had my tomato garden, I knew that I wanted to have my own garden some-day.

I’m so happy and grateful for today. I have a great husband. We just purchased a beautiful home. We have an adorable bunny named Jasper (who can be quite ornery at times, but we love him). And most recently, my loving husband took me to home-depot to spend a bunch of money to build my garden.

We did have a mishap in the beginning that really hurt my pride though…. (if you’re following me on instagram, you will probably know what I’m talking about. If not, you’re about to find out…)

Don’t use Cinder Blocks

I wanted to start a garden ASAP and I wanted to do it the “easy” way - no building required. Tim was concerned about using cinder blocks initially for several reasons (heavy, not as aesthetically pleasing, and so on), but I was determined to do things my way. So we bought a ton of cinder blocks and piled them into my little car. When we got home, I wanted to do it all alone, so I spent 30 minutes unloading all the cinder blocks, tearing up my hands, getting sore muscles, la la la.

I was so proud when I laid them out where I wanted them to be that I posted a little video on instagram, to which my sister responded, “Don’t use cinder-blocks, they’re toxic and leach chemicals into the soil and water!”

I was heart-broken. I didn’t want to believe this… Long story short, I did a bunch of research and basically she was right - cinder blocks aren’t the best option to use for gardening things you plan to eat because they are made with heavy metals and ingredients that can be toxic to humans. It probably won’t kill you but I’m weird about toxins and chemicals anyway, so I would rather err on the side of safety.

I could have painted all the blocks with a non-toxic coat but that seemed annoying, so instead I humbled my pride and told Tim I made a mistake, and that we should return the cinder blocks and just build a raised bed.

Use Cedar To Build Your Raised Garden Bed

After some quick googling, I read that cedar is the best to use because of it’s natural strength and resistance to rot. It also has natural bug repellant properties (supposedly, but the bugs seem to love our garden). AND IT SMELLS AMAZING. That’s kinda irrelevant but helps the building process feel quite pleasant.

Be Prepared For an Upfront Investment

We have probably spent in total about $305 to get started, which is a bit more than we originally anticipated!

Here’s an approximate breakdown of our expenses:

  • Cedarwood ~ $150: For two 3’x5’ beds (each plank is 6” in height, but we doubled it, so the total height was 12”, which meant double the materials), we needed eight 3’ planks, eight 5’ planks, and eight 1’ support beams.

  • Box of 3.25” Nails ~ $15

  • Shovels and tools ~ $25

  • Seeds and Germination Kit ~ $25

  • Soil ~ $90: I got 9 bags (1 Compost, 4 Top-Soil, 4 Garden-Bed Variety). 7 bags ended up filling one bed completely and I had 2 bags leftover of top-soil, so I poured them in the next bed to mix with our compost to prepare for the next season’s crops. I will probably have to spend about $50 on 5 more bags when it comes time to plant in that box.

  • CLAMPS: We forgot to buy clamps so I’m not sure how much they cost, but these will make nailing (or screwing) much easier as it will hold the wood in place when binding together.

Building the Bed is Fastest with Two People

One person could definitely go at it alone, but it goes a lot faster with two people. One person to hand over the wood & nails, and the other to nail it in. Each frame took about 10 minutes to complete once we figured out how we wanted to assemble them!

Build 1 Frame at a Time, Starting with the Base

I feel like this might be hard to explain if you’ve never built anything because it was confusing to me (this is my first project!), so I’m going to supplement photos to help! We built the entire bottom frame before adding the second layer, nailing in one side at a time to the support beams. Like this!

 Build the entire frame before adding support beams and second layer

Build the entire frame before adding support beams and second layer

 This is the bottom level of the garden bed!

This is the bottom level of the garden bed!

 Full Frame with both levels! Notice the raised beam sticking out from the corner! It’s supposed to be flush, but wood isn’t perfect and the cuts weren’t that great! We know now :) If you’re picky about that stuff, measure everything before you begin!

Full Frame with both levels! Notice the raised beam sticking out from the corner! It’s supposed to be flush, but wood isn’t perfect and the cuts weren’t that great! We know now :) If you’re picky about that stuff, measure everything before you begin!

 This is what the final product looks like. Notice placement of the nails in the beams (inside to outside). Everything else was outside - inside except the support beams. We didn’t really have any reasoning for doing that, other than the fact that we didn’t have clamps and it was easiest to work WITH gravity to nail things in (we flipped them whilst nailing).

This is what the final product looks like. Notice placement of the nails in the beams (inside to outside). Everything else was outside - inside except the support beams. We didn’t really have any reasoning for doing that, other than the fact that we didn’t have clamps and it was easiest to work WITH gravity to nail things in (we flipped them whilst nailing).

The Final Product: Our Garden

The beds didn’t turn out perfectly due to some mis-measurements in the wood cuts but in my opinion, everything is just perfect. Building these beds with Tim was so fun. He did most the work, but I enjoyed our time together. Planting the plants after was just as fun and I’m so excited to see them grow a little more every day!

 I started the seeds in a little germination kit and transferred them into the beds when they were this size! This season, we’re starting with Zuchinni and Cucumber… Cauliflower is coming soon, but they were a bit behind, so we’ll see how they do.

I started the seeds in a little germination kit and transferred them into the beds when they were this size! This season, we’re starting with Zuchinni and Cucumber… Cauliflower is coming soon, but they were a bit behind, so we’ll see how they do.

 Beautiful lil babies!

Beautiful lil babies!