How to Create the Perfect Raised Vegetable Garden

When you flip through gardening magazines and see photo after photo of perfectly placed vegetables all lined up in a raised garden, you might be thinking, how can you build this at home?

It does not require extensive training or resources to design and build a raised bed in your garden. With the right materials and a bit of space, you can turn a blah patch into a spectacular grow space!

This guide will walk you through choosing materials, the right location, and building your perfect raised bed.


What is a raised bed (and what can you grow in it)?

Let’s clarify our terms. Raised beds are gardens that see above ground level and are framed to enclose extra soil. A raised but unframed bed is also a raised bed, but we are talking about the first type here.

The main reason people decide to build and use raised beds in their garden is that they can help boost drainage and improve conditions to give plants the ideal environment, especially if you normally have a less than ideal soil. For example, heavy clay can be a challenge. A raised bed solves this problem.

But what exactly can you plant in a raised bed if you build one in your garden?

As already mentioned, most people grow vegetables and fruits in this part of their garden. But just about anything that doesn’t grow too massive can grow in a raised bed.

They are especially good for plants that tend to spread and overgrow an area such as blackberries, bamboo, and certain grasses. Raised beds are also ideal if you need soil that is radically different from organic farming.

For example, if you want to grow hydrangeas or rhododendrons but your soil is not acidic, you can create a raised bed using acidic soil.

Benefits of having a raised bed

In addition to being more convenient for planting your seeds, this type of culture has other advantages. Here are some of the main benefits of having a raised bed on your property, but we have many more benefits listed in this guide.

1. Less back pain

A common problem among gardeners is back pain. When you spend hours tending to your crops, you are normally crouched most of the time. If you do this for a long time, it can really affect your overall health.

Raised beds are designed to be higher than the ground, which means you won’t have to bend over so much to water your flowers or weed the garden.

2. Provide better drainage

If you live in an area prone to flooding, a raised bed could be the answer to keep your crops from getting soggy. The extra height ensures your plants are protected from excess moisture and will give the soil better drainage.

To help you make sure your bed drains well, you might want to check out our article, which has lots of tips.

3. Helps Limit Parasites

Another frustrating problem that gardeners face is the regular infestation of pests. While there are ways to keep things like rabbits, moles, and voles from ruining your plants, sometimes they pop up and there’s not much you can do.

However, having a raised bed is a great way to keep some soil pests out of your crops. It also prevents pets and livestock such as chickens from interfering with your plants by walking or digging in the ground.

4. Reduce weeds

Weeds have a harder time settling in a raised bed and if you stay on top of weeding you are less likely to have a serious problem.

5. Warmer floor

The soil in raised beds warms up faster in the spring and stays warmer later in the year, allowing you to start the growing season and continue your crops later in the fall.

Choose the right materials

Choosing the material for your raised bed can be tricky because you want to make sure it can withstand your climate and not deteriorate over time, but you probably don’t want to spend a fortune on your beds either.

The main materials used to create raised beds are wood, metal, stone, bricks and cement blocks because they strike a balance between lasting a long time and not costing too much.


Cost-wise, pine is the cheapest option, so it’s ideal if you’re on a budget. However, if you want a rot-resistant type of wood, cedar, redwood, or locust might be a better option for building your raised bed.

The wood can be used to make the frame or for the whole thing, including the walls.

Think carefully if you want to use wood that has been treated with chemicals, as they could seep into the ground and harm your crops. Treated wood like railroad ties is common in raised beds, but only you can decide your level of comfort.

For plans on how to make a raised bed out of scrap wood, check out our guide.


Wood is not the only easy resource to find, as stones are also readily available. If you want something that is aesthetically beautiful, stone could sprinkle texture and contrast with your plants to create a beautiful garden.

Stones last longer than wood, although they are heavier and harder to work with. You will also need to maintain them as they move.

Cinder blocks increase the temperature of the garden bed, so they can be useful if you live somewhere with a short growing season.


Nothing beats bricks for their durability and strength. They’re also great for making sure your crops don’t grow outside their borders. If you want to create a neat and tidy raised bed, bricks will give you a clean look.

You can use engineered bricks or landscaping bricks, depending on your budget and if you need them for weather resistance. Engineered bricks are good for harsh weather conditions because they don’t absorb much water.

Landscaping bricks are specially designed for use in gardens and they can generally withstand all kinds of weather and abuse.


Cement is also an option for building your raised bed, but keep in mind that it can raise soil pH over time. The advantage of this material is that it prevents weeds from growing on your plants, which will make your maintenance tasks easier.

Cement is good for regulating temperatures and keeping the soil warm during the growing season.


Many people choose to make a wooden frame and then fill the sides with metal. Corrugated siding and roofing works especially well. This has the added benefit of warming the soil slightly so you can get a head start on planting season.

Or you can use metal for the frame and create the walls with wood.

The downside is that most metals tend to rust over time.

Create your raised bed

The first step in bringing your raised bed to life is to decide on the location so you can start positioning the boards. As a general rule, you shouldn’t build the raised bed more than four feet wide.

This is because you never want to get into the bed itself. You should be able to reach the middle of the bed while standing outside. As for the length, it’s all up to you! Just keep in mind that it can be nice to have some division between certain plants.

In terms of height, consider the root depth of the plants you intend to grow. If you want long carrots, for example, you’ll want a bed that’s at least a few feet deep.

1. Choose the right location

Trampling the soil too much will affect the quality and ruin the growth of your plants, so keep the four foot wide rule in mind. If you want to place the raised bed near a fence or a wall, you have to make it even narrower because you cannot access one side.

Consider the plants you intend to grow. If they need full sun, you will need to place your bed in a location that receives full sun. You also want to avoid placing it under eaves or trees that drop fruit or debris.

Do not place your bed in a swampy area or where frost tends to linger. Also avoid windy areas.

2. Lay Barrier Material and Mark Frame

Use string or chalk to mark the dimensions of your raised bed. When the width and length are set, lay down a barrier material like cardboard or landscape fabric to protect your plants from weeds growing under the new raised bed.

You can skip this step and just build your frame directly on the ground if you want, but you might get some surprise weeds through.

3. Build the frame

The frame construction steps vary depending on the material you are using. If you are stacking bricks, railroad ties or stone, you can start by laying out the first layer and then gradually build on top of it.

Wood or metal frames require a support structure to be put in place first.

Rebar is one of the best materials for securing your frame. They’re sturdy and reliable, and you won’t have to worry about replacing them once you’ve put them in the ground. Drive a bar into each corner and secure the wood to it.

You can also attach the wooden corners to each other or purchase metal fence corners. Or plant fence posts in each corner.

You can now build the wood or metal between the corners of the frame.

Read this article on raised garden beds for inspiration.

4. Fill the bed

The last thing you need to do is fill your bed.

Of course, you will have to be careful about the type of floor you choose for the raised bed. Do not use topsoil, which is too compact and devoid of nutrients. Instead, buy a raised bed mix from your local nursery or make your own.

To make your own, use your native soil and mix it with equal parts well-rotted compost.

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, you can always buy a metal container, drill a few holes in the bottom, put it in the right spot, fill it with soil, and plant!

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