Building a Raised Vegetable Garden


Outdoor-grade lumber 3-inch wood screws Saw Drill Screwdriver Permeable-landscape cloth Staple gun Short-toothed garden rake Topsoil Shovel Soil enhancements

Step 1

Measure your available vegetable gardening space--and think small. Instead of plotting out your whole garden with room to walk between each row of vegetables, divide your space into 3-by-3-by-4-by-4-by-2-by-6 feet rectangles, allowing 18 inch paths between them. Plan and draw out the most efficient use of your space and record your measurements.

Step 2

Determine the height of your boxes. Raised beds are generally between 6 and 12 inches high, making it easier for you to reach your plants. Raised beds also store warmth in the soil and let you enrich soil for vegetables with varying nutritional needs.

Step 3

Purchase outdoor-grade lumber, but avoid pressure-treated lumber for vegetable beds. Improvements in pressure-treating have diminished concerns about arsenic salts that can leach into soil, but copper compounds remain a concern. Choose a durable wood like redwood, if available, or consider plastic lumber. Wood beds will last five to eight years, depending on your climate, and are easily replaced. Plastic lumber lasts even longer.

Step 4

Cut the lumber to your pre-determined lengths, or have the wood cut at the lumber yard. Assemble your hollow boxes with screws at 2-inch intervals. For slightly greater stability, join the corners with angle-irons and screws.

Step 5

Clear ground for the boxes. Remove large stones and debris, pull large weeds and rake smooth to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Set the boxes in raised soil, leaving paths of approximately 18 inches between them so you can walk. Tamp boxes firmly into raked soil once you have positioned them as you wish.

Step 6

Line finished boxes with landscape cloth, tacking it to the sides of each box with your staple gun. Fabric can come partly or completely up the sides of your boxes. The fabric prevents soil from washing out from under your boxes, along with plant nutrients, and provides a barrier against weeds.

Step 7

Fill the beds with fresh topsoil. Add peat moss or any other amendments needed to provide drainage for your vegetables.

Step 8

Add small amounts of fertilizers that are needed by specific plants. Enhance nitrogen for leafy crops--without adding excess leafiness to your tomatoes. Try a root-crop fertilizer just where you need it.

Things You'll Need

  • Expand a small space or make a large vegetable garden more manageable by creating raised vegetable beds. Using wooden or plastic lumber and simple tools, you can reduce weeding, minimize effort and grow vegetable in challenging spaces. Simple, hollow boxes are easy to make, and you can tailor their size to your available space.


  • Organic Gardening and Pressure-Treated Lumber
  • Advantages of Raised Beds
Keywords: vegetable garden, raised bed, building a raised garden bed

About this Author

Janet Beal has written for various websites, covering a variety of topics, including gardening, home, child development and cultural issues. Her work has appeared on early childhood education and consumer education websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University and a Master of Science in early childhood education from the College of New Rochelle.