Momma raised me right – I know early on in a battle if I’m going to be defeated, so instead of giving up, I simply come up with an alternative method of winning. Instead of getting into a battle with my rock hard land, I ‘raised’ my standards and built a raised garden bed.
Raised beds have a variety of benefits over the traditional ‘in ground’ gardening. You can choose your location, height (great for not bending over so much), soil type just to name a few. For my first garden, I’ve started out simple and built a 4′x8′ garden that sits about 2′ deep. HINT: If you’re going to build a raised bed – make it any length you desire, but DO keep the width at 4′ or less. Using the 4′ guide allows you to reach across your bed from every side without lots of reaching and stretching on your back. The depth can vary from about 6″ to as tall as you’d like. I choose the 2′ depth because I knew I’d like to plant a few potatoes that would do well in a nice deep bed. I already have a plan in mind for additions to the current bed at a shorter height.
For my flagship bed, I have used 6 – 2×12′s, 1-4×4 post, a box of galvanized 3 1/2″ screws and just shy of 2 cubic yards of dirt. HINT: when you’re building a raised bed, keep in mind that if you don’t already have a ready supply of great garden soil on your property, you will have to purchase some by the bag at a garden center or do like we did and fill the pickup bed full of dirt. All in all, I spent about $100 on materials and dirt. My husband’s labor was free!!
I will be the first to warn you – when building a raised bed of this size, you do want to build it close to the final site, it is VERY heavy!! (Which in my case is great because anything under 100 pounds can be swept away by our 100mph winds.
I opted to use pre-treated wood for my box. And yes, there is a large debate on whether you should or shouldn’t use it for various reasons. I largely based my decision on price and availability. None of my local garden centers had red wood which is by and far the preferred wood. I could have used the composite material, but frankly, I’m cheap and didn’t want to invest $200 on the sides alone. This is my first garden and in case it didn’t work out, I didn’t want to have a lot of initial money invested. I can always upgrade later!