I’ve recently become obsessed by gardening… At first, this came as a bit of a surprise. Whilst I’ve always loved cooking and baking (I love turning a bunch of boring ingredients into something delicious), gardening was never something I’ve been interested in. My parents didn’t really garden either – perhaps because my childhood garden was too shady and small.
However, despite the lack of green fingers in my immediate family, my grandparents had fruit and veg plots that were always bursting with fresh produce. I remember how special it was to be able to eat things grown just outside the back door – the gooseberry tart made on an enamel pie plate, drizzled with a dribble of cream, was a real childhood favourite.
This nostalgia caused me to jump at the opportunity to grow my own vegetables in our new garden when we bought our house. I was so pumped up to get growing, all I needed to do was get the garden ready. We quickly ordered the shed and the materials needed for the concrete base. We began to dig it all up… and then my heart sank. We didn’t have the lush, fertile earth I was expecting. We had boggy, solid, stodgy clay. Packed full of nutrients (apparently), but a nightmare to get things growing in well. We needed a more creative solution. So, we made some DIY raised beds!
Now, there are plenty of ways to make raised beds for your garden. However, many require loads of expensive tools and materials and specialist skills. So we came up with a much simpler solution. This method is relatively inexpensive, super easy to do with very little skills and can be finished in an afternoon!
But why raised beds? I’ve already mentioned that our poor quality soil is the reason for ours, but there’s plenty of other reasons why you should make some too. First up, they allow you to quickly start growing in brand new soil – with no weeds! They also mean that you don’t need to keep bending down to the ground, which is great for posture and helps avoid back pain. Raised beds also warm up quicker in the spring, as they’re elevated from the ground – so your plants will be much happier. Not to mention the fact that they actually look really good, and make a great garden feature! Right, have I convinced you to make your own DIY raised beds yet? Yes? Cool – here’s how to make ‘em…
Instructions make 1 DIY raised bed (measuring approximately 200cm x 60cm x 36cm)
- 2 lengths of pressure treated rough sawn timber – 50mm x 47mm x 2400mm
- 8 treated decking boards – 120mm x 2400mm (you can use the value ones in your local DIY store)
- 1 box of decking screws (I used ones 65mm long)
Equipment and tools
- Measuring tape
- Jigsaw or Mitre saw (or Hand saw if you’re feeling strong)
- Electric drill
- Spirit level
Before you get on with the woodwork, mark out the position of your raised bed and remove any turf (don’t throw this away!). Once you’ve done that, you’re going to create the stakes used to support your raised bed. Cut each of the lengths of rough sawn timber into 3 (80 cm long). Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to put a point on the end of each to drive them into the ground.
Mark out the positions of the stakes – one in each corner with an extra one in the middle of each long side. Once you’re happy with the positioning, it’s time to start using the mallet to bury the stakes in the ground. There’s no easy way to do this – just keep going until you have around 36cm left above ground. In the early stages of hammering in the stakes, check it is going in straight by using a spirit level – this is nearly impossible to correct later. Once you’ve got your stakes in the ground you can begin to construct the walls.
Cut 40cm off the ends of six decking boards – this leaves you with 2 metre lengths which will become the front and back of your bed. Cut the remaining decking boards into 60cm lengths (you will need six lengths of 60cm).
Attach the bottom 2m decking board to the stakes (flush to the ground) using the decking screws making sure that the board is level horizontally. Continue this for the sides and back. Once this is done, attach the remaining boards to complete the frame for your raised bed.
The only thing to do now is to fill the raised bed up with soil and plant your favourite veg! Tip: Use the turf you removed earlier in the base of your bed – flip it upside down and bury it so it begins to rot. Not only will the add nutrients to the contents of your raised bed, it makes it cheaper to fill!
Ta-dah! We’ve now got two lovely big raised beds packed full of goodies for the coming summer – we can’t wait to taste it all! We’re even considering building a third DIY raised bed, further along the garden… or is that getting a bit much? I think I’m blinded by my newfound gardening addiction! – Gareth.
Don’t forget to Pin this image so you can make it later!