At Home With Adam - How To Build Garden Beds

Adam's House (WPVI) -- There is nothing like getting out in the yard in the spring. Finally, some fresh air, warm air, signs of life begin to pop with every scan of the landscape.

As an avid gardener, born in my blood, I love to brighten up my yard with not only countless annuals each year, but also the easy-growing perennials. Many of the flower beds around my property were created by me and are maintained by me. There is no better feeling than coming home to a bright beautiful yard or having visitors ask "who does your landscaping?"

A pretty yard can be extravagant or simple with just a few pots. The same goes for a vegetable garden.

I found my love for a vegetable garden when I was a toddler. I was always either in my Papa's garden (my mom's dad) or my Nana's garden (my dad's mom). They both LOVED growing their own produce and my Nana canned a lot of the extras! She even gave me my own little section when I was a boy, but after a few years I took over her large garden and pushed her to the little one.

The most unique item she grew was popcorn. I still love watching it grow, drying out by hanging it in the basement, and then shucking off the kernels to cook.

Until this year, I always had a traditional garden: one that was ground level, a fence around it. A fence is key to keeping the critters away. The five-year-old garden was 20 feet by 20 feet with a 6 foot fence. It leaves plenty of room for a decent crop each summer.

Watching home improvement shows, I have seen more elaborate gardens built with the design of raised beds. To me they also looked so beautiful, organized, and functional. I told myself last fall that I would use the footprint of my existing garden and bring it to life with the raised concept.

After doing a little research, I found out it was not difficult to construct. Given the stay-at-home order for the coronavirus, I decided this would be the time to bring it to life.

Knowing the stay-at-home order was coming, I got ready and bought all the materials. Even now, home improvement stores are open, but I would suggest making an order for the materials if you decide to do this now and have them delivered.

It took me only a day and a half to build and place 10 or so beds of various sizes and it was so simple to do.

I can happily say I get so much joy looking at it, and aesthetically it is a wonder.

The biggest things to know about this project are:

  • The beds need to be on a flat surface (have a level or eyeball the area). You may need to do some digging like I did to get the boards even on all side.

  • Side boards of at least 12" if you are putting on grass. This will be deep enough for plants to root and prevent grass from growing to the surface. There is no need to put weed block inside the raised bed over grass.

  • Raised beds can be any size. I know the home improvement store may only have a one cut policy, so buy board lengths you can cut in half. Example a 10 foot x 4 foot bed. You buy two 2x12x10 and one 2x12x8 and have them cut the 2x12x8 in half to get your two 4 footers for the ends of the bed.

  • I like pressure treated, they last a long time and not too expensive. Since 2003, the ingredients used to treat the wood are MUCH safer than they used to be. If you want something else, you can use cedar, redwood, or black locust.

  • If you are doing multiple beds, I found 18"-24" is a good distance between each bed.

  • I like HeadLOK Fastenmaster 4 1/2" screws for securing the corners together. I also like the stainless steel corner braces with smaller screws as an added bonus to keep the two boards locked together.

  • Make sure you have an electric or battery powered drill. Doing it by hand will NOT work.

  • When adding dirt, either use bags of garden soil, or screened top soil. Either is fine.

  • You can see more of what I have been doing to stay healthy and happy at my Facebook page. or here on the At Home With Adam webpage.
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