Building the DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards turned out to be a fairly simple DIY and we knocked it out in a day or two. Learn how to make your own DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards so you can garden right in your backyard.
I never really had an urge to garden…probably because I kill most house plants I touch. But, when we got married and moved into a duplex in San Diego we had 2 large raised garden beds that were ready to go. We had so much fun figuring out how to plant and grow a few veggies. Everything we planted did well with a little watering and pruning here and there. Our squash really went crazy. I kid you not that we had some over a foot long! It was in that house that I fell in love with gardening. When we moved up to Bend, OR, we knew that gardening was going to be a lot more difficult than it was in San Diego (which was almost plant and forget). We were determined to make it happen so we decided plot out a corner of our large backyard to build DIY raised garden beds using fence boards.
This DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards post contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t wholeheartedly recommend anyway! Read my full disclosure here.
Before we jump in to the step-by-step raised garden bed tutorial, let’s go over a few basics.
Are raised gardens different than in-ground gardens?
The quick answer is YES. They are definitely different. Essentially, raised garden beds allow you to create the right type of soil mixture that is balanced and prepare a garden bed with great drainage….two very important steps for gardening. Ultimately raised bed vs in-ground garden comes down to what is best for you. The choice between the two options definitely varies case by case, mostly depending on the soil in your area. Here’s a super informative resource about the advantages of both raised garden beds & in-ground gardens.
What type of material should you use to make raised garden beds?
If you are using wood to make raised garden beds, you definitely want to use a wood that is designed to be outdoors. Popular woods for garden beds are: cedar, yew, redwood, juniper, black walnut, white oak, locust wood, spruce, pine and douglas fir. Read more about choosing the best wood for raised beds in this article.
- Cedar is a great option for raised garden beds. Cedar is naturally resistant to rot from direct contact with the ground, which is why you see cedar used for so many outdoor projects like garden beds, patios, fences and outdoor furniture.
There are a lot of other options for raised garden bed material other than wood too…like recycled plastic or composite material.
We made our DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards (specifically fence boards) for 2 reasons. 1) We had a bunch leftover from building our fence and 2) They are inexpensive to buy. The fence boards are 5/8” thick…however, since our beds are pretty tall and the wood is pretty thin it HAS started bowing a tad. Buying a thicker board like 1”+ will help prevent this.
Why did you make your raised garden beds so tall?
I’m just going to go ahead and answer this question because I just KNOW that it will be asked. It’s true, we built our raised garden beds very tall (nearly 3 feet to be exact). When Logan started building them, I remember coming outside and asking him why in the heck they were so tall. They just look funny and different because normally the beds are right on the ground.
The simple reason we built our garden beds taller is that my wonderful hubby wanted to make gardening convenient…which means not spending the morning hunched over on our knees. You can water, prune, pick and tend to our garden all while standing up…. usually with a busy body toddler on our hip.
Even though it was extra time and supplies to build the raised garden beds taller, I am SO glad that we did it. No regrets there.
Supplies for DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards
- 4 – 4×4 pressure treated posts for the corners
- Plastic lining
- 1 5/8” inch deck screws
- Concrete mix
- Post hole digger
- Cedar boards (we used fence boards)
Step 1: Prepare ground for DIY raised garden beds.
Before you get started building your DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards, you need to make sure the ground is ready. This is an important step because it will make the rest of the DIY garden beds much easier if you get this right.
- Level out uneven ground
- Remove rocks or other debris on the ground
- Prepare under-ground sprinkler supply lines to line up with your raised garden beds (Need help installing sprinklers? Start here!)
Step 2: Dig post holes.
Using a post hole digger to dig the post holes will make your life much easier. Whichever way you dig the post holes for the corner of your garden bed, be sure to dig down 12” and make the hole at least 10” by 10”.
Step 3: Cut your posts to size.
We used pressure treated 4” x 4” posts and cut them to about 4 feet tall if you want your beds tall like ours (1′ was in the ground and 3′ above the ground). You’ll need 4 posts for each garden bed you made. The posts go in each corner of the garden bed.
Remember, we made our raised garden beds a lot taller than you normally see (see our explanation why at the top of this post). Although it was more money for supplies, I love that I don’t have to bend down to work in the garden.
Step 4: Set your posts in holes with concrete.
Mixing the concrete and water in the hole, rather than mixing it up and then pouring it in will save you time and clean up. Here’s the best way to set your posts with concrete:
- Wet all of the sides of the hole with a hose.
- Put your post in and make sure it’s level/straight.
- Pour in concrete mix.
- Run hose over the concrete until it’s above 1” below the dirt line.
The soil where we live is moist enough that it will harden the concrete at the bottom of the hole just fine. If you live in a desert like area, you may have to pour the concrete powder into the hole in layers adding water as you go.
Step 5. Let concrete set for 1 day.
Once your posts are set and you make sure they are nice and straight/level, step away for at least 1 day to give the concrete a chance to set.
Step 6: Attach plastic liner.
When you concrete is harden, you can start working again. By attaching a plastic liner to the inside of your garden bed, you’ll prolong the life of the garden bed. The plastic liner prevents the wood from rotting out. Even though we were using cedar, which is more resistant to rotting than other types of wood, you still want to do everything you can to block the moisture from the soil from touching the wood. We attached the plastic liner to the posts using a staple gun. We covered all four sides and the corner posts.
Another reason we added the plastic liner was to protect the soil from getting contaminated by the chemicals used in the wood, especially the pressure treated posts. Never let those come in direct contact with your soil.
Step 7. Add cedar boards.
Adding the cedar boards to the DIY raised garden bed was simple. All you do is cut them down to the right size and screw onto the corner posts using 1 5/8” inch deck screws. We put two screws on each board in each post.
Step 8. Fill DIY raised garden beds.
We had lots of leftover gravel from our landscaping projects, so we added that to the bottom 1/3 of the beds. You definitely want to add a layer of gravel or sand to the bottom of your raised garden beds so they will drain well. We filled the rest of the beds with raised bed garden soil from our local landscaping company.
Step 9. Plant your garden and enjoy.
We actually built our DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards during the Fall last year, so we couldn’t use them until this year (our winters are much too harsh to grow). I’m happy to say that filled the beds up a month or two ago and we haven’t killed everything yet. Haha! We lost a couple of plants here and there when we transplanted them from inside. We planted potatoes, onions, cilantro, squash, basil, peppers, green beans, kale, tomatoes, thyme and spinach. I also added some mint and carrots in separate containers.
Once we finish getting the sprinklers installed on that upper ledge behind the beds, I’ll add some extra garden plants up there.
Are you ready to make your own DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards?! If you have a little bit of room to spare in your yard, building DIY raised garden beds using cedar boards is an easy weekend project. By the end of the weekend, your raised garden beds will be ready to fill with herbs, veggies and fruits!
If you a newbie gardener like me, here are some great resources that I’ve found helpful:
- Jami at An Oregon Cottage has a great resource of gardening tips and tricks. Here’s her gardening page on her blog.
- How to Find Your Growing Zone by Home For The Harvest (I also love her tips on how to plan your garden layout)
- 11 Tips for a Successful First Garden by The Free Range Life (I love tip #2!)