I love raised beds.
Apparently, I’m not alone.
They seem to be the hottest thing going right now in gardening, among veterans and beginners alike.
And they’re actually very easy to build. Nail or screw four boards together into a box shape, set the structure on the ground, add a healthy soil mix, and, voila, you’re a raised bed gardener.
And yet … there are so many interesting ways to take your beds to the next level. Scouting out bed styles to go with our new house, I became obsessed with configurations and design variations galore, including elevated, enclosed and fenced-in, all typically relying on untreated cedar.
I also found Trex-like lumber, white vinyl (surprisingly cute, if not eco-friendly), even inexpensive polypropylene fabric! And that’s just the beginning.
After much deliberation, we went for the beefiest, sturdiest looking beds we could find, made by a Minneapolis-area craftsman we found on Craigslist.
ABOVE: We removed large pieces of sod to make our 18-inch-tall raised beds sit level on our slightly sloped yard. (I also added rabbit fencing on two beds. I'll have more on that later.)
Though they were challenging to place—they each weigh 500 pounds!—we absolutely love them.
Cost: We paid about $500 per bed, plus about $100 per bed for the soil-compost-manure mix we had delivered.
That’s a lot to spend for 96 square feet of planting space (each bed is 4x8 feet). But, according to the builder—and my sources at our sister publication, Handy—we got a great deal. Just the cost of the 4x4 timbers easily makes the beds worth hundreds more.
And these aren’t just dirt holders. They’re in view of a heavily walked intersection and are practically sitting in our neighbor’s yard. So we wanted them to be attractive, too. So far, all of our neighbors—and some strangers—have been giving us thumbs-up on their walks by the yard.
And, man, am I glad we went for 18 inches tall instead of 11. It is so easy to weed. No squatting required!
What types of raised beds have worked best for you? Send pictures of your raised beds—custom-made, ready-made or homemade—to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Sarah Dorison is the managing editor of Gardening How-To magazine. She gardens just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota.