In the Garden

Hassle Free Horticulture: Benefits of a Raised Bed Garden

A raised bed is one of the best ways to grow vegetables. One garden like this could yield eighty pounds of tomatoes in one season.

Published: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 | 6:25 PM

Experienced gardeners will often use raised beds to sidestep a laundry list of gardening challenges. These controlled experiments in plant parenthood are so easy, in fact, that they’re also well-suited to novices picking up a shovel for the first time.

No need to worry about quality of dirt, because you will fill the raised bed with a custom-mix of soil and compost blend. Proper drainage is pre-built into the bed walls, which hold the soil in place to keep erosion in check, Exposure to the sun warms the bed; thus allowing for more plant diversity and prolongs the growing season. Plants get spaced closely together, so yields go up, water-use is maximized and weeds become crowded out. As an added bonus, raising the soil level by even a foot reduces the back-bending effort needed for task such as planting, weeding and harvesting.

Here’s a simple, fast and productive design that will also yield some amazing results.

Materials That Will be Needed

-One 6-foot long 4 by-4 (Use redwood or cedar? both are beautiful and rot-resistant)
-Six 8-foot long 2 by-6s
-One 4- by 10-foot roll of 1/4-inch-mesh hardware cloth
-32 3½-inch #14 wood screws and 16 ½-inch #8 wood screws
-32 cubic feet (1 1/5 cu. yd.) soil mix (look for combination of topsoil, compost, and potting soil)

Using a power saw or table saw, cut the 4-by4 into four 16-inch tall corner post. Cut two of the 2-by-6s in half. Then cut the 1-inch PVC pipe into four 12 inch-long pieces and the 1/2-inch PVC pipes into 6-foot long pieces. Assemble pieces on a hard, flat surface.

Build bed upside down. Set a 4-foot 2-by-6 on its thin edge on pavement, and place a 16-inch post at one end. Secure post with two 3½-inch screws. Repeat at other end of board. Repeat with other short board.

Join short sides with an 8-foot board; and secure with two screws. Add other long side. Add second layer of 2-by-6s.

To prepare the site, get rid of turf and weeds. Outline the bed dimensions on the ground with a chalk line or string and then dig with vertical strokes along the outline, just deep enough to bury about half of your first course of post. Raised beds are designed so water trickles down, eliminating most of the problem of poor drainage. If there will seem to be a bit of a drainage problem simply dig a few inches deeper; line the bottom with some course gravel or pea-gravel.

Level the earth or gravel layer at the bottom of the bed, then put down a layer of weed-suppressing landscape fabric that extends to the outer edge of the wooden frame. To keep out burrowing pests, use bottom layer of hardware cloth, a mesh grid of steel or galvanized metal.

Once you have the area ready to receive the raised bed, enlist a buddy to help maneuver the bed into position and simply fill it with soil and compost blend. Here is the best part of the project; deciding on what kind of garden to plant in you’re new raised bed garden.

Materials for this project can be found at Armstrong Garden Centers.

Armstrong Garden Centers, 352 E. Glenarm St., Pasadena, or call (626) 799-7139, or visit