How To Make Raised Beds

The wood has come for the raised beds. We initially were going to use some old wood taken from the house, a stack of tongue and groove planks but the winter was wet, and the planks have deteriorated to a point where they are only fit for kindling. That is a job for another day and shows that some ideas delayed can save you money and time. The tanalised 6 inch x 1 inch (15.2 cm x 2.5 cm approx.) came in 16 foot lengths (48.76 cm), and we cut them down into 5 foot lengths (15.24 cm) x 3 foot widths (91.4 cm). This will give us six raised beds with planned arches between them all, you can see what I mean on the sketch below where the beds will be going in relation to the chicken run.

Garden design plans

We try to sketch out any final ideas for the garden as it provides a useful template for the final shape and size. the simple way you can do it is to take a photo of the area you want to change, print it out on A4 and place a piece of tracing paper over it. This gives you perspective and means you can get it right on paper rather than wrong in the garden. After sketching this we decided to reduce the number of beds by one to create balance and symmetry. We then introduced more free standing planters, increased the size of the main path running through for the arches over the path; these will create additional growing spaces. The generous paths mean I can work more easily around these beds, saving my back. There is often an assumption that you can place raised beds closer together, the idea that as long as you can walk between them you'll be okay but wider paths means better air flow, less likely chance of fungal diseases and also means you can get a wheelbarrow between them. For those of you wondering about the rest of the field area, the old wartime beds by the glasshouse are becoming a new raspberry bed, and another location for a greenhouse - when funds permit or greenhouse is found on freecycle etc. - the remaining wartime bed and old polytunnel site has become a new chicken run. This you can see in the photos.


We are using tanalised posts for the corners of these beds, they are leftover from making our own staging from a few years back. The idea is to leave these proud so we can avoid dragging a hose across them and add a finial so we can place netting over them. This will avoid the whole palaver of making hoops to fit to size. To build these beds, you will need an cordless drill/screwdriver, a set square, a tape measure, a pencil, 2 inch screws (5cm screws approx.) and a saw.

Raised beds

The beds will be 6 inches deep (152mm approx.) but we need to have those corner posts for stability, netting and to stop me dragging a hose across crops; this was a common mistake when we had open ground beds. The posts are cut 25.9 inches (66 cm) and a line drawn across the width at 12.4 inches (31.5 cm). This is basically the middle of the post. This line marks where the top of the boards making the beds will sit. You will see below how this looks, with most of the post above the beds. 

Raised beds building.

A word of warning here about marrying up corners on beds, do not measure the thickness of the boards (1 inch/2.5 cm) and mark them off on the longer boards to get neat joints on the corners, it never works; your best bet is to marry up the corners to get a snug fit. Even though we are using self tapping screws, we still drill pilot holes through the boards and into the posts. The boards are attached to these posts and not each other, as attaching boards to each other in the corner leads to a weak joint that splits.

raised beds

Raised beds

You can see in the images above how the posts are proud of the bed and a simple finial will be added to these before staining. We've left them proud of the soil at the moment as we construct all six and make sure the arches fit correctly between them. It is easier to move these beds around when left like this than changing your mind after they have been sunk into the ground. This is the idea of the posts at the bottom of the beds. This stops them moving around and as we're on hill that could be a problem. There is no need to concrete them in. It allows us to get the beds level also which will make gardening easier.


The costs for all these beds come in around £66 ($87 or €74 but after the events of this week in our government this may be all over the place as we play sterling yoyo). Each bed takes around 20 minutes to construct. We'll revisit this soon and show you how they are going on.

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