A standing garden bed is accessible for people that are unable to bend low or kneel in a traditional garden. These raised beds are a good learning opportunity for children or the elderly. The soil in raised garden beds warms early in spring, so you can start working the soil up to one month before the ground is ready for tilling. A good size for a raised bed is 8 feet by 4 feet, but you can choose any dimension that fits well in the space available.
Things You'll Need
- Landscape timbers, 4- by 4-inch
- Weed-preventing fabric
- Nails, 6-inch
- Metal stakes
- Garden-quality topsoil
- Organic compost
Select a smooth area that receives a minimum of 8 hours of direct sunlight. Measure the garden bed's dimensions and place stakes in the ground to mark the area. Leave room for a 2-foot-wide path between the garden beds, if you are constructing more than one.
Dig a 4-inch-deep trench around the perimeter of the garden bed with a spade. Remove about 4 inches of soil from the interior of the trenched area.
Cut 4- by 4-inch landscape timbers to the dimensions of the bed. Install the timbers so they fit tightly together at the corners and where the timbers meet along the side of the bed, if applicable. Pound 6-inch-long nails into the corners to hold the bed together.
Fill 2 inches of gravel into the garden bed to help with drainage. Place a piece of weed-preventing fabric on top of the gravel so it fits snugly to the edge of the timbers.
Install a second layer of landscape timbers on top of the first. Pound 6-inch-long nails into the corners to hold the shape of the bed. Pound a nail through the second layer to secure it to the first layer. Space the nails every 12 inches around the perimeter.
Install 6 to 8 layers of timbers to create a tall garden bed to your preferred standing height, generally 36 to 48 inches high.
Pound a tall metal garden stake into the ground every 2 feet around the garden bed perimeter. Set the stakes flush against the timbers to support the structure.
Fill the garden bed with a mixture of 2 parts garden-quality topsoil and 1 part organic compost. Call a landscaping company to get a large quantity of soil delivered to the garden construction area.
Tips & Warnings
- Adjust the nail length if using landscape timbers with a different dimension than that listed in the steps.
- Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension; Building a Raised Bed Garden; Priscilla Files, et al.; March 2009
- “Popular Mechanics”; How to Build and Install Raised Garden Beds; Fiona Gilsenan; April 2009
- University of Wisconsin Extension; Square Foot Gardening; Arlen Albrecht, CRD Agent; 1999