My soil stinks. They don’t call them The Rocky Mountains for nothing. And along with the rock sits clay…lots and lots of clay. When I first moved to the Colorado front range this past summer, I had to sharpen my spade to a knife-like edge just to get through the stuff, and having relocated from the Midwest where the soil is every gardeners dream, it was a rude awakening. Eventually I succumbed to the advice of neighbors and real estate agents and did what I never thought I’d do: I built raised beds.
I wanted beds that measured 4-foot by 8-foot, and I wanted them to be sturdy and deep. While veggies and flowers have their roots in the top 6 to 8 inches of soil, I knew I wanted my beds to be 12 inches deep to happily support root crops like carrots and potatoes. And since crop rotation is a must for healthy plants, I needed all of the beds to be nice and deep.
After looking around at raised bed plans on the magical Interwebs, I came up with a plan for what I thought would be a sturdy, long-lasting, and relatively inexpensive (compared to other options) plan. I used cedar for aesthetic and longevity reasons, and the basic idea was to have four 4-by-4s anchoring a wall of 2-by-6s stacked two high. Here is the material list:
- Four, 16-inch lengths of 4-by-4
- Six, 8-foot-long, 2-by-6s
- 32 3½-inch #14 wood/deck screws
I had a local home supplier cut the 4-by-4 into four equalish sections, and cut two of the 2-by-6s in half. The cuts weren’t as exact as I wanted, but it was easy and free compared to buying my own saw. Assembly was a breeze and only involved me using my handy electric drill to attach the boards to the 4-by-4s using wood screws (I used three screws for each attachment).
Assembling the short ends of the planter first allowed me to make things as straight as possible. After the two ends were assembled, I attached the long side boards. Throughout assembly I made sure the 4-by-4 anchors were flush with the tops of the 2-by-6s on what would ultimately be the top of the planter, after flipping it over.
Since I just moved to this house last summer, my backyard is virgin territory when it comes to developing a productive garden! I built two of these raised beds late last summer and will build two more in a few weeks. I love the style of them and I’m excited to fill them with a growing medium as soon as I can, and get planting when spring hits.
But before I do so, I’ll add a hoop-house style framework to hold plastic for cold-weather protection or netting for critter control. But I’ll show you that process in a later post!