Family Garden: Simple Steps to Success ,
Brick Mowing Strip Positioned Next to Raised Bed

Materials Needed

  • 8 timbers
  • rubber mallet
  • measuring tape
  • level
  • drill
  • heavy-duty screws
  • construction rubble or pieces of broken pots

Step 1: Select Site for Your Raised Bed.

Dig out strips of turf wide enough to accomodate the timbers. Pressure-treated, softwood sleepers are an economical alternative to rot-resistant hardwoods like oak. You could also consider buying reclaimed hardwood.

Step 2: Arrange Timbers

Lay the timbers out in situ and check that they are level using a spirit level, or a plank of wood supporting a shorter spirit level. Check the levels diagonally between timbers, as well as along their length.

Step 3: Check the Base

Ensure the base is square by checking that the diagonals are equal in length. For a perfect square or rectangular bed, it is a good idea to have the timbers pre-cut to size at a local lumber yard.

Step 4: Arrange the Timbers

Using a rubber mallet, gently tap the wood so that is butts up against the adjacent piece; it should stand perfectly level and upright according to the readings on your spirit level. Remove soil as necessary.

Step 5: Drill the First Set of Timbers

Drill through the end timbers into the adjacent pieces at both the top and bottom to accommodate a couple of long, heavy-duty coach screws. Screw firmly into position, securing the base ready for the next level to be built.

Step 6: Add Second Tier of Timbers

Arrange the next set of timbers, making sure that these overlap the joints below to give the structure added strength. Check with a spirit level before screwing in the final set of fixings, as for step 5.

Step 7: Prepare Bed With Proper Drainage

For the extra drainage required by plants, such as Mediterranean herbs and alpines, part fill the base with construction rubble or chippings. Then add sieved topsoil that is guaranteed free from perennial weeds.

18 Comments About this How To

  • Ronald Steinbach
    Why such large timbers? Just go to Home Depot or Lowe's and buy 2 x 12 lumber. They will saw for free. Buy a box of 3" or 3 1/2" nails. Use three nails per corner. Stagger the ends for strength. I make mine 1.5' x 6', 7' or 8' in length. Level and fill with potting soil. I use Kellog's since it is the least expensive. The boxes last for years. Why waste money buying timbers, or soil box kits, or using plastic wood.

    Posted 2 years ago

    Flag this Comment
  • MadamB
    Thanks for helping get rid of the construction concrete in my yard! I like square foot gardening, so I will use that planting recipe, but I will improve it with your suggestions. I find the large timbers aesthetically pleasing; plus, they give me a place to sit.

    Posted 2 years ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Heidi Del Muro
    I just built two of my own 6'x8' raosed beds this past weekend taking redwood lumber from the home improvement store, 2"x10"x8' and had them cut 2"x10"x12' in half. Jointed them with brackets and voila! Each one took about 2 hours (because we are perfectionists and wanted the tops smooth even with the ground surface level. Less than $200 total and these will be permanent installations for years to come.

    Posted 2 years ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Lisa Vaas
    Don't bother to dig the turf underneath. Save your back and just lay down cardboard and/or many layers of newspaper to kill the turf and enrich the soil beneath.

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Richard Anderson
    "Christopher Stock - Folks, they are using pressure treated lumber. Eat leaches into the soil, your plants absorb it and you eat it. What they hell are they thinking? NO to PT or Railroad ties." Seriously? The chemicals have been changed, and the new ones are safe to use around food. The old ones were probably safe as well, but people freak out over the smallest thing, so a change was made. Maybe you need to get up-to-date.

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Diane Fitzpatrick
    I am looking for a solution for my problem: I have a curved sidewalk, that I have planted many nice plants, but they are the first thing the dogs, mine and all the neighbors, like to take a bathroom break. I would like to build a raised bed, but how would I handle the curve?

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • HGTVPaul
    Hi Diane ... Here's an album I put together with some ideas, a few of which can be used to build raised beds with curves: http://www.hgtvgardens.com/photos/raised-garde-bed-ideas-0000013c-f925-d313-a53c-ff3541350000

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • HGTVMallory
    Paul's ideas are great! Or you could create a series of rectangular raised beds and arrange them in a zig-zag way that would curve along your path.

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • HGTVPaul
    I particularly like the wicker raised bed idea in the album above, if you're going for a cottage-garden look and need a material you could shape. But, the color of the slate shown in that album might match the concrete nicely. So many good options.

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Diane Fitzpatrick
    I want to thank you. I now have ideas in mind..........off to my gardening center.

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment

We Recommend...

How To Make A Bee House

How To Make A Bee House

This homemade nesting box will encourage bees to nest in your garden and ensure you have bumper fruit crops every year.