In recent years, cucumbers, squash and zucchini have wilted in my garden – no matter what.
My best guess is that my soil is infected with a virus, be it phytophthera or some other crippling condition.
Since then I have been planning to build a raised bed for cucurbits which would give me some fresh soil to grow them again.
Well, I finally got around to it! I built a raised bed of cedar dog-eared posts and pressure-treated 2x2s. It measures 6 feet long by 18 inches wide by 11 inches high.
It’s a little lean for squash and zucchini plants, but I was desperate for an area of fresh soil without breaking the bank. So we’ll see how it goes!
While the size of this DIY bed may be a stretch for large plants, such as zucchini and squash, it’s more than perfect for growing root crops, which need loose, loamy soil to reach their full potential.
Place it against a fence or add a piece of trellis to the back and it’s equally great for climbing crops, such as peas, green beans and cucumbers.
I spent about $20 on wood and already had exterior screws on hand. And it was less than $35 to fill with soil – but this will vary depending on the type of soil you use and have available.
Although I don’t think a total of $55 is a small amount, I do consider it an investment.
Next year I just need to supplement the soil with some compost and possibly more sand for extra drainage. So it’s almost a one-time expense.
Do you want one (or five) for your garden? Keep reading to learn how to build your own raised beds at home!!
What you need
6 dog-eared cedar fence posts, 6 feet each 1 pressure-treated 2×2, no less than 4 feet long ¾-inch outside screws 1 ¼-inch outside screws
Circular saw or miter saw Pencil Speed square Drill Tape measure
Go to work
First things first – Cut everything to size
Cedar wood is expensive, but buying donkey ear posts is one way to get it cheap.
Keep in mind that you will need to trim all the dog-eared ends of the fence posts before you begin assembling your beds.
To do this, take a fence post and mark a straight line with your speed square just below the dog-eared end. It should measure just under 6 feet.
Cut off the end with your circular or miter saw.
Use this picket as a guide for all the others so they are exactly the same length.
Set aside four of these pieces – they will be used for the long sides of your new bed.
For the short sides, cut a fence post into four equal sections, about 18 inches each.
They can be slightly longer or shorter than 18 inches – it depends on your specific boards. The main thing is that they are all the same size.
Next, you’ll take your last 6-foot fence post and cut it into four to six sections, with each section measuring about 11 inches, which is the height of the raised bed.
These pieces are meant to stabilize the long sides and to add a bit of character.
All you have left at this point is the 2×2. Cut four sections from the 2×2, each measuring 11 inches. These will be the corners of the structure.
That is it! That’s all the pre-cut pieces you’ll need.
Now it’s time to put it together.
Assemble the long sides first.
Lay two of the 6-foot posts on the ground, one on top of the other with the ends even.
Then take two of the 2×2 sections you cut and line them up with the ends of the boards.
Pre-drill your holes, then attach the 2x2s to the cedar pickets with 1 ¼-inch exterior screws.
Cedar can split relatively easily, so don’t skip the pre-drilling step.
Repeat this process with two more 6-foot pickets and two more 2x2s. These will be the long sides of the bed.
Then attach the short picket sections — the ones that measure about 18 inches — to the same 2x2s that are now on the long picket sections.
Just a word of warning: the screws will be visible from the outside on the short sides of the bed.
If you don’t want the screws to be visible, you have a few options:
Fix the screws from the inside. Use a Kreg jig. Sink the screws a little into the cedar and plug the holes later.
I generally avoid the Kreg jig, as I found this option to be more difficult to make with cedar.
At this point you should have assembled the entire box.
To better secure and stabilize the long sides, use ¾-inch outside screws to attach the remaining 11-inch sections of cedar to the long sides of the bed.
You can choose to put just one per side or several per side, or place the bed between two, like I did in the picture above.
If you want to add a bit of character, try placing these pieces on the outside of the frame – but attach them from the inside so the screws aren’t visible.
I’ll be honest though, functionality was my main concern while I was building this.
Take whatever creative liberty you want to make it look a little more finished and charming, if that’s your style.
As for filling this beauty with soil, I went ahead and bought four 3 cubic foot bags of organic raised garden soil.
I also added a 50lb bag of coarse multi-purpose sand – the bag actually listed soil conditioner as one of the suggested uses.
I mixed it well, watered it well and sowed my seeds.
Not much to it
That’s all you need to do. Real!
This is just a guide to get you started, so feel free to improvise according to your own whims and needs. You can always use different materials and adjust the size, or make your own embellishments on the basic style.
Do what works for your garden!
If you need something bigger, I recommend using 4×4 cedar or pressure-treated posts for the corners instead of the 2x2s.
Also keep in mind that raised beds dry out faster than planting directly in the ground. So, especially before seeds germinate and while they are still seedlings, you want to keep the soil consistently moist.
Have you ever built a raised bed before? Do you think you’ll give this one a try? If you do, let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear your feedback!
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Photos by Amber Shidler, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our Terms of Service for more details.