How to Build Raised Beds


Raised beds in gardens offer great benefits for growing plants. Not only do they improve the drainage in areas of heavy, poor soil, they let roots grow above the standing water line. They also allow for close plantings and expand the growing season by keeping the soil warm, which allows for earlier planting. However, the biggest benefit for the gardener is a large yield of fruits and vegetables at harvesttime.

Step 1

Pull up weeds in your building area. Remove most of the grass. (Some weeds and grass can grow through the thick application of soil, so it's best to remove them now.)

Step 2

Level an area that is 4 feet by 8 feet, which will give you a good base for your building project. Use a shovel to remove humps in the soil and fill in any deep holes you find.

Step 3

Lay out your lumber in the shape of a rectangle. The short sides are the 4-foot-long pieces of lumber, and the long sides are the 8-foot-long pieces. By creating the raised bed only 4 feet across, you make it easier to work the bed from either side. The length of the raised bed can be changed by using longer boards on the sides.

Step 4

Screw the corners together with 4-inch decking screws and an electric screwdriver. Use four screws on each corner. Place the wooden box in your prepared area.

Step 5

Pound each of the 24-inch wooden stakes into the ground at the inside of the corners. This will anchor the raised bed's position so it does not shift. Make the stakes even with the top of the raised bed.

Step 6

Fill your raised bed with good soil. Level the soil off by raking the soil into the corners and dispersing any mounded soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use lumber treated with creosote like treated railroad ties. Creosote causes injury and death to plants that come into contact with it. Old discarded railroad ties may not injure plants, unless they are still oozing black, tar-like creosote or have an intense odor.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • 2 boards, 8 feet long and 2 inches by 10 inches
  • 2 boards, 4 feet long and 2 inches by 10 inches
  • 16 decking screws, 4-inch
  • Electric screwdriver
  • 4 wooden stakes, 24 inches long
  • Sledge hammer
  • Soil
  • Rake


  • University of Missouri Extension: Raised-Bed Gardening
  • Colorado State University Extension: Block Style Layout in Raised Bed Vegetable Gardens
Keywords: raised bed, garden construction project, improving drainage

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.