DIY Cedar Raised Beds and the 2015 Garden

Our new house didn’t come with any garden beds, besides some rhubarb, so I had always planned on putting some in. The trick was deciding how many and where I was going to put them in my much smaller yard. Our gardens at our old house took a lot of work and I knew I didn’t want to have to commit to that so I took my time thinking about what I wanted. Our yard is also much smaller and I wanted the beds to look nice, since they were going to be visible from everywhere.

I actually started by gardening planning and building way back in March but it has taken me this long to get everything together. I decided that I would build two new beds and place them near the south wall of our garage so they would be out of the way but hopefully still get some sun.

Future home of my gardens

I did a little research about my options for wood (I knew I wanted cedar but that stuff is pricey) and settled on box dimensions based on that. Cedar fence boards were only about $2/each and measured 6′ x 5.5″ so I decided that beds that were 6′ x 2′ x 22″ would be easy enough. My previous garden beds were lower, but I since these ones will be major part of my yard I wanted them a little taller to keep the dog out.

Each bed required seventeen 6′ boards, two 8′ boards, and two 2″ x 4″ x 6′, plus a bunch of screws. I used the portable drill and mitre-saw, plus the table saw (reluctantly).

Bringing home my supplies – I am always so proud of myself when I a) drive the truck somewhere b) make large construction supply purchases without any help

I ended up building box one all by myself, but got Jon’s help with the second one just so I could get them finished faster.

Step 1 was to make my long side panels (6′ x 22″) so I cut my 2 x 4 into 22″ lengths (6 of them) and then fastened on four 6′ boards with 1/2″ overhang. This made 2 panels each 6′ long with three braces.

Attaching my boards to the 2 x 4 braces
A completed side panel – you can see the slight overhang I left on the edges 

Step 2 was to attach the short 2′ sides, so I cut boards into 2′ lengths and then fastened them to the 2 x 4 braces at the end of each long panel. I made the first box myself so it was a little tricky to hold up both long panels and attach the short pieces of wood but it was really easy when I had Jon to help.

Attaching the side boards
Garden box with one side attached

By this point I had two basic boxes and all I had to do was add my embellishments (which turned out to be the hardest part of the whole project). If you just want simple garden boxes, you could stop here and just fill with dirt. I wanted to add decorative side panels to cover all the screws, as well as a top lip to each box.

For the side panels, I cut 10 pieces of board 22″ long. I fastened 1 piece on each of my long box sides in the middle, to cover where I had screwed the boards into the 2 x 4 brace. I attached the panels with two screws at the top and two at the bottom where they would be hidden by the lip and by the grass.

My garden box with the side cover panels on

I then used two more 22″ pieces to cover each corner where I had joined the long panels to the short sides. I overlapped two boards, and attached them with screws near the top and the bottom. This hid all the screws I’d used to attach plus the uneven nature of the board ends.

My corner covers
They really hide the imperfections in edges and make them look fancy

The top lip proved to be the most difficult part of the project – since I had to cut 45 degree corners and get the length right. I also realized that my 8′ boards were not the same width as by 6′ boards, so I had to use the table saw to take off about an 1″ along the whole length. The fist box was definitely trial and error – I used by 8′ boards to make the top for the long edges, and two 6′ boards for the short sides and then just “guessed and checked” my lengths by attaching them and cutting to fit. For the second box, we decided to build the top and then just put it on so I picked inner dimensions (about 1″ smaller than each side) and cut my boards to fit that. This method worked a lot better but required two people to transport the pieces around. The tops were attached to the 2 x 4 braces with a couple of screws.

Not the worst job at joining
The finished boxes – the top lip hides al the 2 x 4 braces
All ready to get soil and plants!

I actually finished the boxes about a month ago, but it took us until now to get soil to fill them with. We used our truck and got two cubic yards (which took two trips) and Jon and my father in-law transported it from the truck to the beds while I was at work this week.

I had Thursday off, and even though it was freezing, I went to the garden centre to get a few plants to start off my gardens. I still have seeds left from previous years, so I didn’t buy any more and decided to only grow what we’ve got. I bought kale and squash seedlings, and then planted lettuce, carrots, beets, chard, kale and beans into various squares. I also picked up two tomato plants and some herbs that I am growing in my herb boxes from last year. A friend brought us an oregano plant and a chive plant so I bought sage, basil, lemon balm and mint to round it out.

My collection of plants, waiting to go into the ground

It took about 2 hours today to plant and then set up the irrigation system. With two beds I could probably water by hand but we’re going to be away for almost 5 weeks this summer so it is just easier to have it on a timer.

Ready for things to start growing. I planted the beans along the back so they can hopefully just climb up the garage.

I’m really excited about having a garden again this year, and even though we put things in a little late, I’m hopeful that we’ll still get lots of veggies. Two garden beds should be manageable (even with our busy summer) and you can still pack a lot into 24 square feet of growing space.

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