How to Build a Citizen Gardener Raised Bed

Here is a pictorial set of instructions for building a raised bed as taught by the Citizen Gardener class for about $25.

Materials (use regular lumber, not chemical treated)

  • QTY 1: 2 x 10 – 8′
  • QTY 1: 2 x 10 – 10′
  • QTY 1: 2 x 2 – 8′
  • QTY 32: 2-1/2″ deck screws (1 lb box is enough)
  • Outdoor wood glue (waterproof)

Cut Lumber

  • Cut the 2×10-8′ in half so you have 2 48″ pieces
  • Cut the 2×10-10′ into 2 51″ pieces
  • Cut out 4 9″ pieces out of the 2×2-8
Using buckets for saw horses

Using buckets for saw horses

Cut 2 pieces to 48 inches

Cut 2 pieces to 48 inches

Line showing half-way mark of 2x10-8 -- a little more than 48 inches

Line showing half-way mark of 2×10-8 — a little more than 48 inches

Note:  I cut the 48 inch pieces a little long because I actually cut the 2×10-8′ in half.  The box doesn’t wind up being a perfect square, but no one notices!

Cut 4 pieces of 2x2 to 9" each

Cut 4 pieces of 2×2 to 9″ each

Pile of 9 inch 2x2 pieces

Pile of 9 inch 2×2 pieces

All the lumber for a raised bed

All the lumber for a raised bed

Assemble

  • Joints are made using the combination of wood glue and deck screws.
  • Attach the 2×2-9″ pieces to the long sides (51″ pieces) – locate the piece 1-1/2″ from the edge of the board (1-1/2″ is the width of the other board)
  • Attach 48″ pieces (don’t forget to glue all mating surfaces)
  • Ensure top edges of boards match so that top surface of bed will be level
  • Check for squareness by comparing diagonal measurements
  • Drill pilot holes to reduce the chances of splitting wood
Measuring for line at 1-1/2" using a scrap piece of lumber

Measuring for line at 1-1/2″ using a scrap piece of lumber

mark line at 1-1/2" from edge of 51" board

mark line at 1-1/2″ from edge of 51″ board

Use square to lengthen line

Use square to lengthen line

line at 1-1/2" represents where boards meet each other

line at 1-1/2″ represents where boards meet each other

run bead of outdoor wood glue to 2x2-9"

run bead of outdoor wood glue to 2×2-9″

attach 2x2-9" to 51" board along line drawn at 1-1/2"

attach 2×2-9″ to 51″ board along line drawn at 1-1/2″

NOTES:  Drill pilot holes for the screws to prevent splitting the wood.  Make sure no gap exists between two pieces of wood– the glue should be forced out of the joint if you have it tight.  It is important for the two pieces of wood to be held together very tightly; this is the purpose of using screws.  Your choice whether you install the screws from this side or the other side.

This is how the boards are joined using a 2x2

This is how the boards are joined using a 2×2

NOTE:  You can see the points of the screws coming out of the side of the board, which will scratch a person walking by if they get too close.  This is the reason we stopped using 3″ screws and started using 2-1/2″ screws.  I like starting the screws on the 2×2 side instead of the 2×10 side because it hides the screw from view, the board splits less often, and I like have the head of the screw in the piece of wood that will rot first (will hold better for longer).

Make sure top edge of board line up evenly before you screw them together

Make sure top edge of board line up evenly before you screw them together

Check for squareness by measuring diagonally across the bed

Check for squareness by measuring diagonally across the bed

Check for squareness: both diagonal measurements should match

Check for squareness: both diagonal measurements should match

When everything is in place use all 8 screws per joint

When everything is in place use all 8 screws per joint

Done, you have a box that will hold 1/2 cu-yard of soil and is sized to give you 16 ‘squares’ of planting space!

see also:  Alternate Method of Building a Raised Bed Box

About Brian Gallimore

Brian is a backyard vegetable gardener and aquaponics enthusiast. He also moonlights as a permaculture designer, maintains the online community northtexasvegetablegardeners.com, and sponsors the Citizen Gardener program in the DFW area.
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10 Responses to How to Build a Citizen Gardener Raised Bed

  1. After building these several times, I have some ideas for improvements:
    1- Don’t use a 2×2 to measure the 1-1/2″ mark. The width of the 2×2 is less than the width of the 2×10. Use a tape measure.

    2- 3/32″ is the size of the drill bit to use for pilot holes.

    3- Use 2-1/2″ screws instead of 3″ screws and start them from the inside instead of the outside. The 3″ screws are too long, protrude and are very sharp. Starting them on the inside (with the pilot hole) has less chance of splitting the 2×2. Also, the 2×2 will rot before the 2×10, so it is better to have the screw threads in the board that rots later.

    I’ll update the body of the blog post later, when I have some good pictures to replace the existing ones with.

  2. Pingback: Getting Started in Vegetable Gardening - North Texas | North Texas Vegetable Gardeners Blog

  3. I’m about to build my first raised vegetable bed. Any suggestions on where to buy reasonably priced soil to fill the bed? I’d appreciate your info on this – I live in Forney.

  4. Jim White says:

    There is a Living Earth Technologies in Rockwall. Much closer!

  5. Daniel says:

    Hey Brian what a small world right? Was just looking into making a garden as we are moving from an apartment to a house and I come across something you wrote. Appreciate you passing on the info!!!! RON PAUL 2012!!!

    • Kim says:

      lol, just came across this website in searching online for info on gardening in North Texas, and clicked this article. I’m a big Ron Paul fan too!

  6. Pingback: How to Build a Raised Bed Box (alternate method) | North Texas Vegetable Gardeners Blog

  7. Regina says:

    I have an old entertainment frame made of what I think is plywood. Is this okay to use for framing the raised garden or will this be detrimental to the crop?

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