Simple Garden Style: Tips for Building Beautiful Wooden Raised Beds

Simple Garden Style: Tips for Building Beautiful Wooden Raised Beds
  • Posted November 17, 2014

Putting together a raised wooden bed is one of the easiest and most rewarding garden projects. Often used to grow vegetables, bottomless wood planters provide perfect drainage and create a barrier to invading weeds. Rather than just screwing four planks together and calling it done, take a few extra steps and transform your wood planters into stylish architectural elements.

Houses, decks, retaining walls and many other features in the home landscape are built perfectly level and there is no reason why wood planters can't join them.

  • Start by building the planter on a level surface, such as a driveway or patio. Then, with a few helpers, carry it to the yard and set it down where it will be installed.
  • Use a string level and a tape measure to determine how many inches the highest corner needs to go down into the soil to make the planter sit level.
  • Move the planter aside and dig a narrow trench corresponding to the shape of the planter, using a carpenter's level to make the base of the trench level on all sides. The trench should taper from ground level at the lowest point to the depth needed to make it level at the high point.
  • Drop the planter into the trench and fill with soil.

Corner Posts
Even if corner posts are not needed for structural purposes (they rarely are), consider including them for architectural flair.

  • For this technique, use 4-by-4 posts and 2-inch thick lumber for the sides. Build it so the posts rise 2 inches above the side boards for every 10 inches of height.
  • The boards that form the sides should terminate into the corner posts, centered on the post face. This involves driving 3-1/2 inch screws through the boards at an angle into the posts.
  • Finish off the project with architectural post caps (available at lumber yards); or, cut a 45 degree bevel into the four edges on top of each post to create your own.

Bench Caps
2-by-6s installed horizontally on top of the side boards also help to give a more finished look. If the side walls are between 15 and 20 inches in height, the caps can serve as a convenient bench.

  • Center the 2-by-6s on top of the side boards and attach them with 3-inch screws at 12-inch intervals.
  • A piece of 1-by-3 trim against the vertical walls underneath the “cap" (the 3-inch side faces out) makes it look even more refined.
Brian Barth
About the Author

After 15 years as a professional landscape designer and horticulturalist, Brian Barth embarked on a second career to share his passion—and the knowledge he's accrued—through writing. His love of plants is all-encompassing, but he has a particular soft spot for culinary crops.

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Simple Garden Style: Tips for Building Beautiful Wooden Raised Beds

Benefits of Raised Beds

  • Earlier start as soil warm quicker in spring
  • Easier to have and keep the soil fertile
  • Neighboring weeds can't creep in
  • Makes grouping plants by care needs easier
  • Simple to fit with covering for extended season