Well it seems that everyone likes photos, so here is a photo how-to create some great looking raised bed gardens! This example will make one 4×8′ raised garden bed, about 1 foot high.
First you start with 9 – 8′ long cedar decking boards. They are usually 5/4″ x 4″, and run about $3.50 per board. You will also need 3 – 3′ x 1″ x 1″ spindles (see photo). I have found these in the same aisle as the decking at my local big box home improvement store. Then I coat the boards and spindles, not forgetting the ends, in linseed oil and let them dry. It takes about two days for them to dry while the weather is above 70°. I then apply another coat and let them dry.
Cut three of the 8′ boards in half, these will become the ends of the bed. The other 6 will be for the sides, 3 each. Cut the spindles in half, these will be the attachment part for the beds. There will be one at each corner and one brace at each side. From the top, work your way down attaching the boards to the corners. Keep the cut pieces to the outside so that once you are complete, you can seal the cut ends. You can make them sturdier (and nicer looking) by alternating the way the boards are attached to the corners (see photo).
To install the bed, flip the finished product over. To prepare the ground for the bed, dig a trench, about 3″ deep the same perimeter as the bed. In the corners, you will need to dig a little bit deeper to accommodate the corner/side spindles. You can install pea-gravel here to aid in drainage from the rains, this will help the bed last longer. If you do not want to install the pea gravel, you do not need to dig the trench.
If you are going to install irrigation and you want it as “hidden” as possible, now is the time to do it, as long as you have the main line and any feeders that need to be buried done, the micro-drippers or sprinklers can be done later. I also install weed guard around the edges of the bed and up the sides to keep the soil mixture in and the water sheeting off of the boards. If you want to put in row cover hoops, now would also be the time to install the supports that hold them in place.
Next you get the soil mixture ready for putting into the bed. I use a two-way mix, which is half compost and half sand mixed by weight, vermiculite, and peat moss. I use a 2 parts mix of two way to 1 part each of vermiculite and peat moss. We use a wheelbarrow to mix up the soil, it is easier to handle. Be sure to mix well and wear eye and lung protection as the vermiculite and peat moss are both very dusty!
So, are you going to start a garden here soon?