So after much planning and discussion, my wife and I were ready to build/develop our raised bed. We decided that it would be best to go with one bed on our first go around, so we went with a 4ft x 6ft bed in a relatively low/flay area of our back space.
After a fair amount of research it was determined that cedar would be the best wood to use on the siding since it naturally avoids decay and is untreated and the last thing you want leeching into your garden is some kind of wood treatment. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of the “grow your own veggies so you know what’s on them etc” thing. So we ended up getting two 1″ x 8″ x 12′ and cutting those in half so we had four 6 foot pieces to make the two long sides about 16 inches high and then we got two 1″ x 8″ x 8′ that we again cut in half to make the other two 4 foot sides. To hold the sides of the bed in the ground we decided to go with treated 4″ x 4″ that we cut into 2 foot sections, figuring we’d bury 8 inches and then have 16 inches above ground to fill with soil. We also figured that the treated wood on just the posts would probably be ok…if we grow 3rd eyes or something we’ll let you know.
So once we got all of our wood put together and screw in nice and tight it was time to dig the holes. I’m still not convinced that I did this in the right order, building the frame first and then digging the holes for the posts because I ended up digging about 12 holes for 4 posts. Roots, rocks, bricks, wires, and generally unsteady ground made the whole ordeal really tiring and super frustrating. I ended up using both the reciprocating saw and the chainsaw to cut massive roots (from the dead tree that was cut down earlier making this whole endeavor possible) out of the way and ended up quitting from frustration and exhaustion on Saturday evening. I went back at it this afternoon and got my holes dug and the box placed and then realized that there was still a good 2-4 inches of space between the ground and the lower edge of my sides. I wasn’t real excited to pull everything out and re-battle all of the above elements of the dirt, so we decided to use rocks and bricks as a stopgap. We rolled out our landscaping mat (so to avoid weeds and to aid with water retention) and then put down bricks and rocks on the inside of the perimeter or our box. Looked pretty good so it was time to fill with soil.
We ended up using a basic formula of 60% top soil, 30% compost, and 10% peat moss. We had about 15 total bags and as we filled we realized we probably undershot it. The soil appears to be about 8 inches deep before any settling has occurred, so we’ll probably go back and get some more soil, compost, and peat moss and mix all of that in. As we filled in the soil we also realized that while our rock and brick idea was a good one, it might also cause some soil loss since it wasn’t really the tightest fit we’d ever seen. So as a further measure I headed back to the store and picked up another 6 inch cedar board which I cut down to one 6 foot piece and one 4 foot piece, which were then screwed into place where we thought the most water would come in and impact our soil. It remains to be seen if we’ll need to do the same thing to the other sides.
Overall I’m pretty pleased with how things turned out and even though I’m sore and tired, I’m really happy that we got it done and we actually have a legitimate bed in our backyard now.