Build a Timber Raised Bed

If you have heavy clay soil, you may find it easier to grow vegetables in raised beds. Not only does the soil drain freely, but it also warms up faster in spring.

Raising the Gardening Bar

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited, Photolibrary: Gary K Smith DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited, Photolibrary: Gary K Smith

Position a raised bed near your patio and you can have fresh lettuce and herbs close to the kitchen and barbecue area.

When to Start: fall, late winter or early spring
At Its Best: summer
Time to Complete: 1 day

Materials Needed:

  • shovel
  • heavy-duty gloves
  • 8 pieces of lumber cut to size required (lumber used here are: 2x8s and 2x4s)
  • builder's level
  • tape measure
  • rubber mallet
  • screwdriver
  • long heavy-duty coach screws
  • topsoil or soil-based compost

Dig Out Strips of Turf

Mark out lines on the ground where the lumber will rest, then use a sharp shovel to cut out the outline of your bed, all the way around. If positioning the bed on an area of lawn, ease the spade between sod and soil, and lift off the grass, which you can then use elsewhere in the garden.

Level Foundation Before Laying Lumber

Level Foundation Before Laying Lumber

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Lay Lumber in Position

Set the first layer of lumber in position. Remove or add soil until they're level. Check the levels along and diagonally across the lumber. For a perfect square or rectangle, have the lumber pre-cut at a timber yard.

Keep Sides of Raised Bed Level

Keep Sides of Raised Bed Level

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Secure Base Timbers

Use a rubber mallet to adjust the position of the wood pieces so they butt up and align neatly at the corners. Drill two holes on one side of each corner, and secure the joint using long, heavy-duty coach screws. Check that all pieces are firmly joined together.

Secure Base Timbers in Planting Bed

Secure Base Timbers in Planting Bed

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Arrange Second Layer

The next layer of timbers simply sit on top of the first. Arrange the pieces so that the joints at the four corners are staggered to give the structure extra strength and stability. Check all levels before screwing the lumber in place.

Garden Building

Garden Building

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sow Seeds or Plant Plugs

Fill with garden topsoil or soil-based compost. Water it well and leave to settle for a few days, after which you can sow seeds or plant directly.

Raised Timber Herb Garden Bed

Raised Timber Herb Garden Bed

2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited DK - How to Grow Practically Everything

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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