How to Build an Elevated Garden Bed for an Abundant Vegetable Harvest

Growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, and other plants in raised garden beds is easy and pays off in the long run. If you put up raised beds in your yard, patio, or deck, you can garden without having to bend down. It also gives you total control over the soil environment.

In this guide we will cover how to build simple elevated planter boxes from wood or other materials. Follow these steps to create waist-high beds that make gardening easier on your body – allowing you to grow crops at a comfortable working height.

Benefits of Using Elevated Garden Beds

Here are some of the main advantages of gardening in a raised planting bed

  • Saves back pain because you don’t have to bend over or sit on the ground. This makes gardening more accessible.

  • Allows you to control the soil quality. Instead of fixing up the poor native soil, you can fill the bed with good potting mix.

  • Improves drainage, especially in clay-heavy yards. Elevated beds do not get waterlogged.

  • Extends the growing season. Soil warms up faster in the spring in a contained raised bed.

  • Keeps plants and roots contained. No more weeds or grass invading your garden space.

  • Prevents soil compaction since you don’t walk directly on the soil. This promotes better plant growth.

  • Can be installed on any surface – soil, grass, concrete, decks, patios, etc. Very versatile.

  • Creates an organized, tidy growing area. Beds neatly contain garden plants and materials.

Planning Your Elevated Garden Bed Design

Raised beds can be constructed from wood, plastic, metal and other materials. Follow these tips when planning your design:

  • Select a level, accessible site that gets 6+ hours of daily sunlight.

  • Decide on the size of your bed – common widths are 3-5 feet wide and any length desired. Make sure you can reach the center from both sides.

  • Determine the height. Standard depth is usually between 12-18 inches. Deeper beds may need additional structural support.

  • Choose rot-resistant wood like cedar or redwood if making a wooden frame. Avoid treated lumber near edibles.

  • Incorporate vertical gardening trellises if desired for plants like cucumbers, beans or tomatoes.

  • Decide if you want an open bottom or closed box design before purchasing materials.

  • Determine if added drainage is needed depending on construction. Closed-bottom beds will require drainage holes.

Now that you have a design in mind, let’s go over how to construct your elevated garden bed.

How to Build a Simple Wood Elevated Planter Box

Wood is an affordable and versatile material for elevated planter boxes. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Supplies Needed

  • 1″ x 6″ x 8′ cedar or redwood boards (at least 4)
  • 4″ x 4″ x 3′ square cedar posts (4)
  • 2-3″ exterior wood screws
  • Power drill
  • Circular saw (optional)
  • Carpenter’s square (optional)
  • Additional lumber for floor support (optional)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Cut four cedar posts to desired height using a handsaw or circular saw. Check corners for square.

  2. Cut 1×6 boards to lengths required for sides and ends. Miter ends at 45 degrees for decorative corners.

  3. Position one cedar post vertically at a corner and prop board against it. Drill pilot holes then drive 3” screws through board into post.

  4. Attach a short side board to create a corner. Check for square and continue driving screws at 12” intervals.

  5. Attach the opposite corner post and remaining side board using pilot holes and 3″ screws.

  6. Attach the last remaining cedar post to complete the four-sided frame. Check for square.

  7. Fasten 1×6 boards across bottom inside of frame to create a floor for extra support if desired.

  8. Flip bed over and move into desired location. Fill with fertile garden soil and plant! Add drainage if needed.

For a more detailed elevated planter box plans, there are various free resources online with diagrams and measurements for different bed sizes.

How to Make an Elevated Planter from Recycled Materials

Don’t want to purchase new lumber? Use these eco-friendly ideas:

  • Plastic containers: Use large plastic tubs, bins or buckets stacked and secured together. Ensure containers have drainage.

  • Metal stock tanks: These tough galvanized cylindrical tanks work great as raised beds. Available at farm supply stores.

  • Old dressers: Stack two old dresser drawers of the same size, secure together and line with plastic.

  • Bathtubs: Fiberglass or metal bathtubs can be repurposed as unusual raised beds. Include drainage holes.

  • Stock fencing: Make a circle of wire livestock fencing. Stuff plastic bags in gaps then line with burlap or fabric.

  • Concrete blocks: These are often free! Stack into shapes and line insides with cardboard or plastic.

Repurposed materials are inexpensive, durable and give your elevated garden a fun, unique flair with a smaller eco-footprint.

Tips for Installing Elevated Planter Beds on a Deck or Patio

One great option is installing raised garden beds on hardscape surfaces like a deck, balcony or patio. Here are some tips:

  • Place beds along a railing, wall or at end of deck to use as support on one side.

  • Locate beds over from vertical supports like pillars or posts below to hold the weight.

  • Include waterproof liner on bottom of beds to prevent moisture damage.

  • Ensure structure can handle heavy weight of soil and mature plants – at least 10-14 lbs per square foot.

  • Add caster wheels to one end of beds for easy mobility. Lock wheels after positioning.

  • Use plastic, composite or metal beds instead of wood which can degrade faster outside.

  • Include drip trays under beds to protect the deck surface from drips, spills.

With smart design and placement, you can create beautiful raised bed gardens anywhere – even surfaces without in-ground soil access!

How to Enhance Your Elevated Beds

Here are some simple additions to make your raised planter beds even more useful:

  • Add latticework panels to the shorter ends to train climbing vines and beans upward.

  • Attach adjustable trellis pieces to grow tall crops like tomatoes and cucumbers vertically.

  • Consider attaching benches, seating or pergolas around the perimeter for resting spots near the garden.

  • Add castor wheels on one end for easy mobility to move beds around. Lock wheels in place when positioned.

  • Include advanced irrigation systems such as drip tubing or soaker hoses to automate watering.

  • Use decorative edging material between beds to define spaces. River rock, bricks, metal, plastic, etc.

Get creative with these enhancements to make your elevated garden beds as beautiful and functional as possible! The options are endless.

Best Plants for Growing in Elevated Garden Beds

One of the biggest advantages of elevated planters is you can fill them with premium potting mixes instead of having to amend marginal in-ground soil. This allows you to grow a huge variety of edibles, herbs and flowers successfully.

Some top plants for raised beds include:

Vegetables: Leafy greens, tomatoes, onions, carrots, peas, beans, peppers, cucumbers, radishes

Herbs: Basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano

Flowers: Marigolds, sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, snapdragons, asters, nasturtiums

Fruits: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, dwarf fruit trees

Experiment with different varieties each season to find which grow best in your particular environment. The concentrated planting area makes it easy to try new crops!

Creating an elevated planting bed opens up many new gardening opportunities. Follow these tips and plans to build a raised bed customized to your space, needs and desires.

With a properly constructed elevated garden, you’ll be growing abundant flowers, herbs and vegetables at a comfortable height in no time. Just be sure to use quality materials, include adequate drainage, and enhance with vertical supports or trellises where needed.

Soon you’ll be hooked on the ease and productivity of gardening in raised beds! Moving forward, you may find yourself adding more elevated planter boxes year after year as your backyard garden takes shape.

DIY Elevated Garden Bed


What do I put on the bottom of an elevated raised garden bed?

If you’re going to pay for a product to fill your raised beds, again, it should just be really good soil and compost. I only recommend a thin layer of gravel at the bottom of your raised bed and under the edges to help you level the area. Save the rest of your gravel for your garden pathways.

Do elevated garden beds need drainage?

Drainage is an important process when you are growing plants in a container, as poor drainage can cause the soil to become oversaturated or waterlogged, stunting plant growth. Good drainage is necessary when you are using raised garden beds.

How deep should an elevated raised garden bed be?

They should have at least 8 inches of soil depth to accommodate the root systems of plants, because the majority of plant roots require 6 – 8 inches of soil for healthy root growth. A depth of 8 – 12 inches will suffice for most gardening situations.

Are raised garden beds good?

Elevated garden beds are excellent for yards with poor or compacted soil. This guide outlines different types of raised garden beds. It teaches the basics of how to build a raised garden bed and how to plant and maintain your vegetables and flowers. Raised garden bed plans and kits come in different styles and sizes.

How do I build a raised garden bed?

Choose a flat, sunny spot to build your raised garden bed. Use a shovel to remove ground that prevents the frame from resting in a level position. Don’t worry about the condition of the soil in your chosen location since you will be adding your own quality soil. Some raised garden bed kits are stackable, so you can grow plants with long root stems.

What is a raised garden bed?

When we say “ raised garden bed ” or simply “ raised bed ,” we’re referring to a freestanding box or frame—traditionally with no bottom or top—that sits aboveground in a sunny spot filled with good-quality soil. Raised beds are usually open on the bottom, so the plant roots can access soil nutrients below ground level.

How tall should a raised garden bed be?

Very handy if you live in a colder region. The height of raised garden beds tends to be anywhere from six inches to waist-high. When you make a raised garden bed, the height is purely down to your and your garden’s needs. For example, if you’re in a wheelchair or have mobility issues then a taller structure will help you to reach into beds.

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