Friday, March 1, 2013

Building a Raised Garden Bed

Okay. Here’s the deal. I’m not a gardener. I couldn’t keep a plant alive if my life depended on it … but … surprise, surprise, Superman has a green thumb. Add it to the list of EVERYTHING he can do.
So. He’s been wanting a garden for quite a while. And, I’ve put it on the back burner for quite some time because I didn’t want to deal with the preschoolers getting into it. And our kids have been little forever, it seems. But … a week ago, Dude decided he was gonna go for it.
And that’s where the ghetto in this post begins. :D (There’s always a little ghetto in everything I post, isn’t there?)

Our shared fence with our neighbors was ghetto rigged about 6 years ago by our neighbor. (See? We aren’t the only ghetto people in the world!) In an attempt to create an 8 foot fence on a budget, he used these 12”x2”x8’ boards along the bottom of the fence. Not along the entire length of the fence … just along a 30 foot section. We are ghetto people. And because we aren’t the confrontational type, we let it slide. Even after other neighbors we met at the grocery store asked us what was going on with our weird fence. True story.

ANYWAY … Those neighbors, sadly, have since moved out. Their home sits vacant right now … and Gary decided while the other lot was vacant, he would rob the ghetto out of the fence and use those bottom boards to build his garden box. Because if he’s anything at all: he’s resourceful!

And that is where our process begins. If you want to build one like ours, here’s what you’re going to need:

12”x2”x8’ boards
metal corner brackets (pictured below)
old fence pickets for trim and brace support

And … here we go …

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Superman started by placing a corner bracket at every corner of each board. If you are doing a garden box that is two boards high, you’ll need 2 corner brackets per board, like this:

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Once he had secured all of the corner brackets, he took some old fence pickets (these happen to be cedar), cut them into braces supports, and put a brace for support every 18” or so on the inside of the box. Our garden box is actually two boxes, put together, sharing a middle divider board. Hope that makes sense. Here. Look (at not the next picture, but 2 pictures down):

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After he had done all the corner brackets and fence picket supports, he decided to line the inside of the garden box with some heavy duty plastic. We happened to have some in the garage from back in the day when Superman worked in construction. Y’all could use some heavy duty garbage bags. Or painters plastic/drop cloth. Or something like that. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or look nice. It’s all getting covered anyway.

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He had to line each side separately, and took advantage of the middle dividing board so he could wrap it around the sides and staple it to the top of the boards. Like this (sorry for the blurry picture):

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*** Make sure to line the entire inside of the garden box … it will make a difference in how much water you ultimately end up using.

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After both sides were lined with plastic, he decided to trim out the outside of the box. This served two purposes: First and most importantly, it made it look nice. :D And second, it added additional support to the outside of the box. (Sorry for another blurry picture … I’m no photographer, people)

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Having brace supports on the inside and outside of the garden box means that the 2,000 lbs of compost and dirt that is about to be dumped into the box won’t warp the box with its weight. He also took the time to trim out the top of the box, which was equally as simple as the brace supports. But, most importantly … it made it look nice. ;)

When he finished the construction, it looked like this:

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But. You know my perfectionist Superman can’t leave it like THAT.

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All those old fence pickets with worn out stain showing all over? NEVER. Icky. Can’t have that.

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So he dug out the extra fence stain (that we ghetto rigged up for cheap) and sprayed it on with his air compressor. And … bingo:

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He successfully satisfied both of us: the box is tall enough to keep out bunnies, our silly puppy, most of the preschoolers … and, it makes weeding it much easier on the back. Okay. Those were my requirements. He satisfied all of MY requirements … the poor dude just wanted a garden. He wasn’t picky about how it came to fruition.

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Superman is such a rock star. I swear there isn’t anything he can’t do.

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And now it’s time for the dirt. We were able to score an awesome deal on compost at our local transfer station (that would be the dump, people). They were selling compost for $18 per cubic yard. A little ghetto rigging of Superman’s truck and he was able to pick up all the compost he needed in 1 trip.

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And a whopping $36 later, our giant garden box was filled with dirt. (The ‘whopping’ was a joke, y’all. What a steal!!)

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Now, from what we’ve read, we just need to mix in some peat moss and vermiculite and we will be ready to start gardening.

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What garden style are we following? Most likely the square foot gardening idea. I like the idea of being told exactly how many of what to plant where. To me, square foot gardening is gardening for dummies. :D

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Happy Spring, y’all!! What are you going to plant?!

The jury is still out on exactly what is going in our garden … but, that will be determined VERY soon. Like. Tomorrow.

UPDATE: If you'd like to see what we've planted and check out our progress, go here.


  1. Wow! Thanks for the tip on lining the grow boxes for water retention. I know what I'm doing this weekend! These grow boxes are gorgeous!

  2. Nice job!! I love gardening even though our garden is tiny. Can't wait to see what you are going to grow in your raised beds!

  3. Hi, I am with Sage Magazine and we would love to feature this in our April issue. Just let us know if you are interested. Thank you!,

    1. Hi Lindsey!

      Feature away!! I'd live that. I'll send you an email.



  4. thank you so much for the post! do you know about how much it cost to build each box?

    1. Um, Priscilla ... that's hard to say. We spent almost not money on this one because all the wood was scrap fence wood. Those boards are 8" boards in 8' lengths. IDK what they sell for. But, you could definitely find some scrap wood on Craigslist and build a box for practically nothing. We only spent money on those metal corner brackets. I think my husband said they were $1/each ... ish. Something like that. I'm sorry I'm not more help.

  5. Nicely done Janette! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Great post - I have always wanted to do this, but never had the "how to". Thanks!!

  7. Would these be moveable at all (if empty)? Do you need to put anything down between the grass in your yard and the compost, or just pour the compost over your lawn and start planting? (I am obviously, NOT a green thumb).

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