How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden (2024)

Project details


1 out of 5EasyThe frame is simple to assemble, but you’ll need an adult to run the power saws and fill the bed with soil.


About $225

Estimated Time

2 hours

Age Range: 6 and up

Here’s a great project for the budding gardener in your family. This Old House TV landscape contractor Roger Cook recently showed a few young friends how to make a raised garden. It’s a simple frame of rot-resistant lumber that holds soil in place and brings it to a height that’s easy for everyone to reach without stepping onto precious plants—plus no more dirty knees (or at least fewer dirty knees).

Plant a vegetable patch in your new DIY raised garden bed. Kids will have tons of fun caring for their seedlings as they mature. And what better reward is there for a garden well tended than a crisp carrot straight from the earth (washed, of course) or a nice ripe tomato right from the vine. Read the following steps to learn how to build a raised vegetable garden.

Step 1


How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden (1)

Roger and the kids made this bed with rot-resistant cedar, a material that’s safe around the edible plants it will contain. Cedar will also turn a nice silvery gray as it weathers.

The bed here is 10 feet long, but you can make yours as long as the lumber allows. However, it should be no more than 4 feet wide so that little arms can reach the plants in the middle. Roger cut stakes from 2x4s and angled one end to a point to hold the frame in place and keep the sides from bowing once it’s filled with heavy soil.

Vegetable gardens need a lot of light, so Roger and his helpers placed the bed in an area that gets sun for most of the day. To improve drainage and prevent weeds from growing up into the garden, he removed the grass beneath the bed and tilled the earth before adding soil.

Step 2

Cut and assemble the frame

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Using a jigsaw or circular saw, cut an 8-foot length of 2×10 cedar in half.

Hold one of the 10-foot 2x10s on edge, and butt the end of a 4-foot 2×10 up to it so that the face of the longer board overlaps the end of the shorter board. Using the drill/driver, sink three 3-inch screws through the face of the long side and into the end of the short side.

Attach the other sides together, using three 3-inch screws on each corner and overlapping the long sides over the short sides.

Step 3

Square up the frame

How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden (3)

With the four sides assembled, place a framing square in each corner, one at a time, and adjust the frame until the corner lines up square. After aligning the entire frame, check all four corners again with the framing square.

Roger Cook says: “The great thing about a raised garden is that you can put in the perfect soil for whatever you want to grow.”

Step 4

Brace the corners

How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden (4)

Leaving the corners perfectly square, tack scrap lumber across each one with 3-inch screws to hold it in position.

Step 5

Mark the perimeter

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Move the raised garden bed frame to the sunny spot you’ve picked out for the bed. Using an edger or spade, mark the ground around the perimeter of the frame.

Step 6

Prepare the soil

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Set the raised garden bed frame aside. Using a sod cutter or grub hoe, skim away the grass layer. Increase drainage for your garden by turning the soil beneath the bed area with a pitchfork or rotary tiller.

Step 7

Level the frame

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Set the frame back in place over the tilled area. Using a 4-foot level, check the position of the frame. Dig out the soil beneath the frame until it sits level on all sides.

Step 8

Stake the frame

Cut ten 2-foot-long pieces of 2×4. Make two diagonal cuts on one end of each piece to create a point. Using a sledgehammer, drive these stakes at least 18 inches into the ground along the outside of the long sides of the frame at 2½-foot intervals. Using the drill/driver, secure each stake to the frame with three 3-inch screws.

Remove the temporary corner braces. Drive a stake inside each corner. On one short side of the bed, secure the stakes with screws driven through the frame on both sides of each corner. On the other short side, leave the screws off.

Step 9

Fill the bed

How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden (9)

Remove the unscrewed short side of the bed. Using a wheelbarrow, fill the bed with a mixture of soil and compost. Level out the soil and continue filling until it is 2 to 3 inches from the top of the frame.

Step 10

Reassemble the frame

How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden (10)

Replace the short side of the bed and, using a drill/driver, secure it to the long sides and to the corner stakes with 3-inch screws. Using a reciprocating saw or handsaw, cut the top of each stake flush with the top of the frame.

Step 11

Plant the vegetables

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Plant seeds or seedlings for your vegetables. Dig a small hole for each one, mix in the appropriate amount of starter fertilizer, set the seed or seedling into the hole, then cover it with soil.

Step 12

Water and mulch the bed

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Once the bed is planted, water it thoroughly. Then cover the soil with about an inch of mulch made from grass clippings.

Roger Cook says: “Use grass clippings to mulch around the plants. This will help keep the soil moist and stop weeds from growing.”


Tools & Materials

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    Circular saw

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  • How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden (15)


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    Grub hoe

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    level – 4-foot

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    Sledge hammer

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How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden (2024)


How do you set up a raised vegetable garden? ›

Setting Up Your Garden Bed
  1. Find a sunny location. Selecting the best site for your garden bed can be tricky. ...
  2. Level the ground. If you're installing on a grass or dirt area, it's a good idea to level the ground out first. ...
  3. Weed matting. ...
  4. Bulk fill. ...
  5. Add top soil. ...
  6. Plant veggies/flowers. ...
  7. Give a good watering. ...
  8. Mulch and fertilise.

How do you prepare the ground for a raised vegetable garden? ›

Mow the grass or weeds as close to the ground as possible. Then, cover the area with cardboard, smothering the grass/weeds, and eventually rot down into the soil. (Make sure you pick off any tape and staples that won't decompose.)

What is the best layout for a vegetable garden? ›

As a general rule, put tall veggies toward the back of the bed, mid-sized ones in the middle, and smaller plants in the front or as a border. Consider adding pollinator plants to attract beneficial insects that can not only help you get a better harvest, but will also prey on garden pests.

What should I put at the bottom of a raised garden bed? ›

Best Soil for Raised Garden Beds

We recommend buying high-quality, nutrient-rich soil in bulk. Or, you can make a soil mix with equal parts topsoil, organic materials (leaves, composted manure, ground bark), and coarse sand.

How deep should soil be in raised bed for vegetables? ›

They should have at least 8 inches of soil depth to accommodate the root systems of plants, because the majority of plant roots require 6 – 8 inches of soil for healthy root growth. A depth of 8 – 12 inches will suffice for most gardening situations.

What do you put in a raised garden bed before soil? ›

The best way to save money on soil by filling the bottom of your raised garden beds with leaves is to install the leaves in layers just 6 inches thick at a time. Compress them by walking on them and then wet them with a garden hose. Once that's done, add the next layer.

What is the best soil mix for raised vegetable beds? ›

Add a mixture of compost and purchased topsoil in a 1:2 or 1:1 ratio, to the top of the bed. There are vendors who sell topsoil mixed with compost. Alternatively, fill the bed with compost and a soilless growing mix in a 1:1 ratio.

How deep should a raised garden bed be? ›

A raised bed does not need to be very deep to be effective, but the surface underneath your garden bed affects which depth is right. In general, eight inches is a good minimum depth for raised garden beds.

What should tomatoes not be planted with? ›

Companion Plants To Avoid Growing Near Tomatoes
  • Cabbage. Planting a member of the brassica family, like cabbage, can stunt the growth of your tomato plant because they out-compete them for the same nutrients. ...
  • Corn. ...
  • Broccoli. ...
  • Fennel. ...
  • Dill. ...
  • Potatoes. ...
  • Eggplant. ...
  • Walnuts.
May 4, 2024

How deep should a garden bed be for vegetables? ›

The minimum required depth depends on the plant. But on average, a raised garden bed should accommodate about 20 inches of soil for the roots of flowers and vegetables.

What is the easiest thing to grow in a raised bed? ›

If you're looking for high-yield veggies, you can't go wrong with cucumbers, pole beans, radishes, squash, zucchini, peas, and tomatoes. These vegetables are easy to grow and have been known to produce a large amount of produce per plant, providing you with a bountiful harvest that lasts for weeks.

How deep should a raised bed be for tomatoes? ›

Tomatoes should ideally be grown in a raised bed that's at least 15 to 18 inches deep. Many of my clients in Houston are successfully growing tomatoes in 12-inch deep raised garden beds, but their plants tend to be a little stunted compared to plants in deeper beds.

What vegetables grow best in raised beds? ›

Most garden vegetables will grow well in raised beds. Try growing lettuce, greens, radishes, and strawberries. Bush type vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans also do well in raised beds. You can install trellises for vegetables that need support, like some tomatoes and beans.

Do you need holes in the bottom of a raised garden bed? ›

When it comes to container raised garden beds or raised garden beds, make sure there are holes in the bottom of the container for proper drainage. Ideally, when you water the raised garden bed, your plants will absorb what they need and let the rest of the water drain from the drain hole of the container.

Do I need to line a raised vegetable bed? ›

If a raised garden bed is placed on top of soil or grass without a barrier in between, common digging pests such as moles and gophers can easily make their way to it. They can easily wreck havoc on your plants by destroying their root systems or even consuming your greenery.

What is the best soil mixture for raised beds? ›

Look online and you'll find that opinions differ when it comes to what soil to put in raised beds. However, it's generally accepted that the optimum raised bed soil mix includes a blend of topsoil, compost and organic matter.

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