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Blog Articles: How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

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Want to grow fresh vegetables and flowers but don’t have a lot of room? Learn how to build a do-it-yourself raised garden bed. This project can maximize your backyard garden space, give you better control over the soil, reduce soil compaction and make caring for your plants easier.

Table of Contents

Making a Raised Garden Bed

Building and planting a raised garden bed is an intermediate-level do-it-yourself project that generally takes a day or so to complete. It’s helpful to have some experience with DIY work and to be familiar with basic carpentry. The general steps for the project include:

  • Planning your garden site
  • Cutting the lumber to size
  • Assembling the planter box
  • Adding soil and plants

We'll show you each of the phases of the work below and give you some tips for planting your raised garden.


Shop our weekend projects and see other options for building a raised bed, such as raised garden bed made with block and lumber and a garden bed kit complete with a raised bed, plants, soil and more.

Shop Your Raised Bed Project

The work will go more quickly if you have the right tools and materials ready to go. Here are the key items you'll need.

Planning Your Garden Location

Pick a spot for your garden bed. Keep in mind many types of plants — such as vegetables — need plenty of sun. Take a look at our article and videos on designing and planting a vegetable garden for tips on choosing a good location.

Building the Garden Bed

An illustration showing examples of wood and retaining wall block raised garden beds

The bed frame can be as simple as 2-by-4s on top of the ground, or even patio retaining wall blocks. The size is up to you. A bed that's at least 6 inches high provides ease of access and gives roots plenty of room to grow. These instructions describe building a 4-foot by 6-foot by 10-1/2-inch bed with untreated 2-by-4s. Untreated lumber isn't rot-resistant, but it's a good option for edibles.


Step 1: Cut the Boards to Length

A person cutting a board with a miter saw

Measure and mark the length of the walls and cut the boards. Measure and cut 2-by-4s for corner posts to support the walls. They should be the height of the garden bed wall. You can also cut posts to install along the walls for additional strength.

Good to Know

For our frame, we cut six 6-foot boards, six 3-foot 9-inch boards and ten 10-1/2-inch support posts. You can build this bed with ten 10-foot 2-by-4s.

Step 2: Attach Corner Posts

Step 3: Build the Planter Box

Preparing Your Location

Mark the location for your garden bed and remove the grass from this area. You can then add the finishing touches to the frame.


Step 1: Outline the Garden Layout

A person using a square-point shovel to mark the raised bed layout in the ground

Place the frame in position and outline it with a shovel. Setting up the bed on the ground rather than a hard surface — such as concrete — allows proper root growth and drainage.

Good to Know

A large frame is heavy and unwieldy. You may need a helper when it's time to move it.

Step 2: Remove the Grass

Step 3: Attach Hardware Cloth to the Planter Box

Step 4: Line the Planter Box with Plastic Sheeting

Adding Soil and Plants

Start with high-quality soil and choose plants that'll work in the location you select. Plant tags show details on the care and conditions the plants need to thrive. See our guide to reading a plant tag to learn how plant tags can help you plant and grow a garden.


Step 1: Add Soil to the Raised Bed

A person using a round-point shovel to add soil to a raised planting bed

Fill the bed with a mix of nutrient-rich soil and compost. Use our Mulch and Soil Calculator to estimate the amount you need, and see our article on soil and soil amendments and learn how to improve your soil.

Step 2: Plant Your Garden


A person adjusting an Orbit hose-end water timer

The best time to water is morning when less water evaporates in the sun. Read our watering tips for more ideas, and check the plant tags for additional recommendations.

Good to Know

A water timer on a soaker hose can make a simple task like watering even easier. Drip irrigation can also be an efficient way to get the right amount of water exactly where you need it.

Raised Garden Bed Options

A raised garden bed with a mesh cover on a P-V-C frame

There are a few things you can do to customize this DIY project to suit your gardening plans.

  • Add a garden trellis next to the bed for vines and tall plants.
  • Install a mesh cover to keep birds and rabbits away. You can build the frame with wood and PVC pipes.
  • If you want to get an early start on gardening or keep things growing later in the season, cover the mesh frame with plastic to protect the plants from cooler temperatures.

What Type of Wood Do I Use?

The wood you choose to use for a raised bed is your decision. Here are some options:

  • Cedar and redwood are naturally water-resistant but can be expensive and hard to find.
  • Hemlock, fir and pine are suitable materials for raised beds but aren’t very long lasting.
  • Pressure-treated lumber is also an option, but it’s been a controversial topic for many years. The purpose for chemical pressure treatment is to protect wood from rot, decay and wood-ingesting insects. Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was the most controversial treatment, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned it for consumer use in 2003. Current treatments such as alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) are deemed low risk by the EPA and designated safe for use around humans, pets, plants and vegetables. Creosote-treated wood isn’t a good option for raised beds where you intend to grow vegetables.

Compared to untreated wood, pressure-treated lumber lasts longer and is available at a comparable cost. Some types are specifically treated for ground contact. But keep in mind that even water-based treatments, such as ACQ, contain the fungicide and pesticide necessary to make it effective. Here are some practices that may address concerns about using it in raised beds.

  • Let the wood dry before using it. It can take six months or longer for treated lumber to dry. You can then either paint it, seal it or choose to use it as is.
  • Line the interior sides of the bed with sheet plastic or pond liner.
  • Plant vegetable, fruit and herb plants near the center of the bed, a few inches away from the wood.

Follow these guidelines and safety precautions anytime you use pressure-treated lumber:


  • Use fasteners and hardware labeled for treated lumber — stainless-steel or hot-dipped, galvanized screws.
  • Butt lumber tightly. Pressure-treated wood shrinks as it dries.
  • Drill pilot holes to prevent splitting when nailing or screwing boards.
  • Use wood rated for ground contact when necessary for the project.


  • Wear work gloves, a dust mask and eye protection when handling or cutting wood.
  • Wash your hands after working with treated wood.
  • Dispose of sawdust and waste according to local regulations.
  • Don’t burn pressure-treated wood.
  • Don’t use pressure-treated wood as mulch.

Read more about pressure-treated lumber and wood preservatives on the EPA website: Overview of Wood Preservative Chemicals.

What Do I Plant?

A basket of cut flowers and a basket of peppers cabbage tomatoes and other vegetables

Growing raised-bed vegetables, fruits and herbs offers several advantages over growing them in regular soil. The soil in a raised bed is looser and will drain better than it would in an in-ground garden. You can also better control soil additions, like compost and fertilizers, to suit your plants’ needs. And, because you’re putting bagged soil into the bed, you can plant immediately, rather than waiting on ground soil to thaw before you can plant in it. Here are some planting suggestions for your garden bed:

  • Root Vegetables: Carrots, radishes and beets all grow well in the loose soil of a raised bed.
  • Leaf Vegetables: Kale, lettuce and spinach do very well in the warm, fast-draining soil of a raised garden bed.
  • Melons: Raised beds and melons work well together thanks to the loose, warm soil.
  • Onions: Onions need quick-draining soil, plenty of organic matter and a long growing season.
  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes love warm soil, and the loose soil aids in root-system development. You’ll need to stake or cage your plants.
  • Herbs: Basil, cilantro, mint, oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary all are great accents and fillers in raised beds that’ll complement just about any dish.
Information from: Lowes

2023-07-18 09:19:21