How to Make Raised Beds for Vegetable Gardens


Raised beds are a great way to grow a vegetable garden. Their neat appearance fits well into any backyard and even some front yards. The deep and loose soil encourages healthy root growth and allows for closer planting distances, which gives you more production in the same space and helps to shade out weeds. Raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring. And, a raised bed also allows you to more precisely plan and plant your garden. With or without borders, raised beds are an efficient and attractive way to grow vegetables.

Step 1

Choose the location and size for each bed. They can be any length, but should be no more than 4 feet wide, to enable you to reach the entire bed without stepping on it.

Step 2

Use the fork or rototiller to thoroughly dig the area of the bed. Get the soil as loose and airy as possible. Make sure you dig down at least 8 inches.

Step 3

Measure out the perimeters of your bed and mark those borders with pegs and string.

Step 4

Decide what amendments you want to add to your bed, then use the shovel to evenly distribute them over the surface. Use the fork to thoroughly mix them into the soil beneath.

Step 5

Use the rake and shovel to clean up the perimeter of your bed, leaving a tidy and contained border area. Move all extra loosened soil back into the bed. Leave the pegs and string in place, if desired, or lay border material to contain the edges of the bed.

Step 6

Add a 1/2 inch top layer of compost, if desired. Smooth the top of the bed with your rake. You are ready to plant in the bed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not walk or step on your beds and do not allow anyone else to do so. Using definite borders, like boards, will help with this. Remember that each crop consumes soil nutrients and you will need to add more soil amendments before planting the next crop.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden fork
  • Rototiller
  • 6-inch or longer pegs
  • Twine or string
  • Shovel
  • Compost and other soil amendments
  • Boards, logs or other material for borders
  • Rake


  • Mother Earth News: "Productive Raised Garden Beds"
  • Organic Gardening: "Raised Bed Gardening"
  • Sunset: "The perfect raised bed"

Who Can Help

  • National Gardening Association: "Making a Raised Bed Garden"
  • DIY Network: "Tips for a Raised-Bed Vegetable Garden"
Keywords: raised bed, french intensive, raised garden bed, organic gardening

About this Author

Patricia Bryant Resnick started writing when she was 7. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University in 1975. She began writing professionally in 1996 and has been published in "Rolling Stone," "Georgia Family Magazine" and online. Resnick specializes in food and gardening articles; she is a regular reviewer of tea on the Web.