Having raised garden beds saves my back and saves time for me. Building them is not nearly as hard as it looks and can be done fairly inexpensively.
At our previous home we had an in ground garden for years. It always ended up full of weeds and unmanageable halfway through the summer. I was at a loss. It didn’t matter how often I pulled weeds, I just couldn’t keep them down. I quit. I couldn’t keep fighting the horrible thistle we had. No matter what, it always won.
When we moved to the new house I had no plans for a garden. You can tell by the way my yard is set up that I was more worried about having a home big enough for the triplets that were in the NICU than where I was going to put my garden. That’s okay though. As we all grow our priorities change.
2020 Hit Hard
Once 2020 hit I realized how much I actually needed food security. I was bound and determined to make that happen on our small intown lot. Once we realized we were not able to get many of our normal foods at the grocery store we started figuring out how we were going to garden. Our yard just isn’t set up well for having a garden. While it does get wonderful sun (full sun all day everyday with no shade in sight) it is a valley. The house is up high, the garage is up high, and the middle is a valley that holds water. Not optimal for gardening.
Between our house and the neighbors is about 15 feet, and it is flat (ish) for 40 feet. I can make that work. With my previous experience with gardening I knew I wanted raised beds. Now the only issue was figuring out how we could build them without breaking the bank. As a family of 8 with number 9 on the way we had a tight budget. I told Brent what I wanted and he went to work figuring it out.
Fencing planks to the rescue
Ground contact wood is expensive. As I said, I am on a budget so there was no way I could afford that. We looked into building them with old pallets but that was more work than it was worth. Concrete blocks were almost the same cost overall as the 1*6 boards. Then Brent found cedar fence planks. They were less then $3 a board and cedar holds up really well outdoors.
These boards come in 6 foot lengths so it is easy to make the beds 3 foot by 6 foot with no waste. Having no waste was important, when you are on a budget it hurts to see your money get wasted. Add in a few 2*2 pressure treated boards and you have a nice looking raised garden bed for around $35. This amount completely depends on your area and the lumber prices. As these numbers a jumping like hot cakes right now I have decided not to include our cost, as they mostly likely will not be accurate for your area and might not be for ours by the end of the year.
Luckily, Brent has enjoyed wood working for a while so we had many of the tools needed, but we did still have to buy some. First we needed a miter saw. That was out of the budget, but my father in law had one he wasn’t using so they allowed us to borrow it.
The first year we used deck screws and a drill to hold them together. It worked well, but was time consuming and costly. Cedar is prone to splitting so we had to predrill the holes. Not too big of a deal when you are making one or two, but Brent was able to sell over 30 of them last year. It took forever. At the end of last growing season we decided we needed to try something different. The cost of the screws were really eating at the budget and the time to drill every single hole was getting ridiculous. Brent bought himself an air stapler or pneumatic stapler. These are the staples we use. Brent gets them from Harbor Freight and it really helps with the cost.
The only other tools we needed to build my raised beds were a tape measure and a speed square. These were items we already had, so we did not have to buy anything else for this build. The tape measure is something we use fairly regularly but the speed square was a cheap plastic thing we had. The cheap $5 ones work great for us. No need to buy anything special.
Read about my plans for our raised bed here!
- 9- 6 Foot cedar fence pickets (approx 6" wide)
- 1- 8 foot long 2x2 or 2x4 pressure treated lumber.
- 1 box of 1 1/4 pneumatic staples 18 gauge
- circular saw or miter saw
- pneumatic stapler
- air compressor
- measuring tape
- speed square
- pencil for marking measurements
- Mark and cut 3 feet on 3 of your cedar pickets. You will have a dog eared edge, that is okay.
- Mark and cut your 2x2 or 2x4 into 16 inch sections. You will have 6, 16 inch pieces when finished
- Set 2 of your 16 inch pieces 3 feet apart. Align 3 of your 3 foot long boards on them. This will form your end piece. Line your bottom up perfect using your speed square, your tops will have a bit of a gap. Use your stapler to secure. We use 5-6 staples per cedar board. MAKE 2
- Once you have completed your 2 end pieces stand them on end and start lining up the 6 foot long cedar boards. It works best of you have a helper with this part. Line up each board making sure they are square and tack them in place with one staple. This gives you the ability to adjust the boards if you have a warped board. Once you have all 3 boards tacked in place and everything is straight go ahead and secure each board with 5-6 staples each.
- Measure 3 feet into the center of the side (what you just completed) and attach 1 of the 16 inch boards on the inside of the raised bed. This will add a bit more stability to your raised bed. Again we use 5-6 staples per board,
- Flip the bed to other side and repeat steps 4-5.
- You now have a completed raised garden bed ready for planting and filling!
If you do not have a pneumatic stapler you can use a drill and screws. I would recommend pre drilling your holes as cedar does have the tendency to split.