March 7, 2015

If You Build It They Will Grow

March 7, 2015
FINALLY!!!!  The sun is shining and the wind is calm.  That can only mean one thing: OUTDOOR PROJECT TIME!

Once upon a time I built a garden.  It was below freezing outside but farm work doesn't wait.  With the help of my ranch hand the perfect garden bed was sectioned off using several 200 pound fence panels original to the property.  It was my first experience with real farm work.  And it was back breaking down to the last of my bone cold bones.  Spring came, we planted, waited and wept.  Only a few of the many things I planted grew and produced.  The problem was that the garden was at least a whole football field away from my back steps therefore, not getting the proper attention it deserved.  Out of sight, out of mind got the best of me.  So this year things are going to be different.  Raised beds right outside our back door seemed to be the answer.  I knew with a garden that close to the house not a blade of grass or the slightest hint of weeds would get by me.   Above freezing temperatures on a sunny day tempted me to build garden beds to eventually transplant my indoor precious seedlings to.  Now, when I say, "me" I mean Big Dog.  I had the ever so important task of documenting the project to share with you.  So pick a sunny and flat spot and get to building!  

The materials mentioned will build one 4'x8' garden bed.  It will cost around $100 (not including dirt) and will take about 2 hours.  If you prefer your bed to be smaller, make measurement adjustments accordingly.

Shadow serves as project manager while catching some rays.

9   2"x4"x8' boards
3   8' sheet metal
2   4"x4"x6' posts
6   1"x2"x8' boards
4   4"x4" end caps
1   box of 2" screws
1   box of 90 degree metal brackets
Safety glasses.  Safety first!
Dirt.  Lots of Dirt.  About 3 cubic yards of dirt.

We prefer using DeWalt tools such as the cordless, wrist turning drill and circular saw.

Circular saw with wood and metal blades
Tape Measure
Ready.  Set.  Build!

Begin by measuring and cutting each 4”x4” post to make four posts at 31” long.

Using the circular saw, with a  wood blade, Big Dog cuts the 4"x4" post.  Where are his safety glasses?

Measure and cut two 2”x4”x8’ to make four 46” boards.

Cut all 1”x2”x8’ to make sixteen boards at 26 5/16” (this is the same width as the sheet metal).

Get the picture?
Cut three 2”x4” to make six at 26 5/16” (this is the same width as the sheet metal).

Cut 1 piece of sheet metal to make two 46” pieces. 

Safety glasses!  Muy importante!  Sparks will fly!

Since we are all about easy around here, Big Dog suggest "toe-nailing" the screws in halfway on all your 2"x4" pieces.  

Its time to set the bottom frame.  Make a rectangle by using the 2"x4" boards.  Connect the boards by placing the 4"x4" posts at the four corners.  Here is where you will appreciate the time you took to "toe-nail" the screws.

After you have the bottom frame braced to the four posts go back and screw in one 90 degree bracket where the boards meet each of the posts.

Grab the 1"x2" boards.  Align and attach one board on the outer corner of each post.  This will serve as a frame for the sheet metal.

Use three screws to attach each 1"x2" board to the outer corners of each 4"x4" post.
Finally!  Its time to frame the top.  Using the remaining 2"x4" boards attach them to the posts using the 1"x2" boards as reference as to where to place them. 

Its coming along just fine.

Be sure to check your balance and level out your boards.
It's finally time to do something with all that shiny sheet metal.  Grab one piece at a time and attach it to the 1"x2" boards by using three screws, one at the top, in the middle and at the bottom.  Then take the remaining 1"x2" boards and frame the sheet metal in as shown below
Big Dog recommends using three screws to tack the 1"x2" boards to secure the sheet metal.
Are we almost done yet?  

Don't forget the lovely trim.  Attach the four 4"x4"end caps.

A lesson learned from round one told us we need to be sure to give the bed extra support on the outside.  This will keep the dirt and top soil from bulging and busting at the seams.  See?  You get to learn from our mistakes.

Using the remaining 2"x4" boards, attach them to the outside walls of the bed by placing two on the long sides of the beds and one on the short sides of the beds.  For the long sides of the bed we measured and divided by three making three equal distances for the two board placement.  Do the same for the short side of the bed but with placing the support board directly in the middle of the short side of the bed.  Attach the boards by screwing the metal to the boards from the inside of the bed. 

We can all get by with a little support here and there.

With the help of another human, you can lift and move your garden bed to just the right spot.  Of course I had Big Dog move it an inch this way, a smidge that way, a hair over there, a degree over here, until it was right where I wanted it.  So once you are happy with where it is fill it with dirt, compost, and top soil.  I encourage you to add as much rich soil as you can and finish it off with a thin layer of peat moss.  Oh, and fun vegetable picks!  For and interesting planting plan, check out this super cool, tried and true idea from the craftsy blog.

Now stand back and pat yourself on the back.  You did it!  You have a beautiful garden bed to plant your bounty in.  I hope you will share your project with me.  I'll be sure to post what our bed(s) produces.


  1. Love! Could Big Dog come over and build one for me? 😜

  2. Looks great! Hopefully this summer isn't too crazy and all of our gardens will do better.

  3. WHERE ON EARTH did you find those garden markers?? I love them! And the whole project! Well done friends!

    1. I found the garden markers at Crate and Barrel last year. I hope they expand their variety this year!

  4. I've never thought of using corrugated steel in that way. Most of the raised beds that I've seen are just made from timber. Great idea, looks good and must also speed up construction of the beds! I never have much luck screwing screws in diagonally like that though, never creates a level joint for me, I will have to have another go!

    Do the raised beds make it easier to remove weeds? And are they suitable for growing potatoes in?

    Bert Aguilar @ Rainfill Tanks and Curved Roofing Supplies

    1. Hi Bert! Since building the beds over a year ago we have had to go back and reinforce the braces. The dirt became too heavy for the steel to hold. We added steel brackets/braces and now it holds. We are always learning out here. And yes, removing weeds is much easier and there are actually a lot less weeds in raised beds. Potatoes grew great last year and we are hoping to get the same results this year! Thanks for reading!

  5. Great insight. Last year my wife and I set off to putting up a flower bed in our front yard. We spent quite sometime designing it prior to making it, but when we did make it we followed along a similar path. The bed of flowers are starting to blossom and it makes us so proud, what a great project!

    Wilbert Bowers @ Mirr Ranch Group

  6. Hi Wilbert! Thanks for reading. We have quite a bit to learn in the gardening department. Hope you have beautiful flowers and many more to come!