Gonna rise up. Find my direction magnetically.

A vegetable garden for the vegetarian

For Mother’s Day, I told Julie we would build a raised vegetable garden bed in the backyard. We had talked about doing this for a couple of years but never got around to it. A few weeks ago I started doing some research and came up with a plan that combined a few of the ideas I had seen.


We staked out where we wanted it to go in the yard using wooden stakes and we decided on an 8’x4′ layout. Since we don’t really know how this whole thing is going to work out, we didn’t want to go too big, but Julie was excited which meant she bought way, way too many things to go into a small starter garden. She agreed to cut back her ambitious plans to a more reasonable number of vegetables and we were ready to start getting material.

It took two trips to the hardware store to get all the top soil and material for the project. The final material list was:

  • 8′ 2×12 Cedar (3)
  • 8′ 1×6 Ceder (3)
  • 8′ 1×2 Cedar (2)
  • 6′ 4×4 Cedar (1)
  • 18″ metal landscape stakes (4)
  • 6″ bolts with washer and nut (16)
  • 27 cu. ft. of top soil
  • 3 cu. ft. of peat moss

Total cost was around $225. The 2×12 cedar boards were $32 a piece! I looked at using treated lumber or something that might be cheaper than cedar, but when building something that will be containing food that we are going to eat, I wasn’t going to risk it. Several websites warned about using pretreated lumber around vegetables. Don’t do it!

I found a cool website to estimate the amount of top soil I was going to need. Thank you internet.  How to Calculate How Much Soil Is Needed in a Raised Bed Planter Box


With all the material on hand, it was time to get to work. the overall design was fairly simple, the sides of the bed were made out of the 2×12 and would be bolted to 4×4 blocks cut for each corner. The whole structure would be anchored to the ground by the 18″ stakes and on top there would be 1×6 going around the top lip to make a spot to sit your butt while gardening. I know what you are asking yourself, but Ryan, what are the 1×2 pieces for?? I know, I know, I am getting there. To finish things off, I bought some 1×2 so Julie could staple/write what she is putting where.

Power tools are the best way to start the day.

The site we chose for the bed gets plenty of sun and is out of the way a little so it won’t interfere with the kids playing in the yard. The shots below show the progression of the bed from beginning to end including removing the sod, leveling the bed, assembling the frame and finishing it up.

Final Thoughts

Overall the plan came through and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. We still need to get a few bags of mulch to go on top and install the rain barrel at the downspout that is 8′ away from the edge of the bed but for the most part, it’s done. Julie and the kids spent some time yesterday afternoon planting everything and marking it with the stakes. Now it’s just a waiting game. I have a feeling this is the first of what will turn into many of these raised beds if we have a good harvest.

Now if only I can keep the vermin from eating it all!


  1. Julie

    I love it! Good job too. Thanks hun!

  2. Mike

    Looks like a great family project and one that can be enjoyed throughout the summer and fall.

    One word of caution, if many of our four legged friends are in the yard now you will need additional protection to prevent an early harvest.


  3. Mom

    Sure brings back memories of our gardens when you and Tina were little. You would get so excited when the veggies started to grow! I know you’ll enjoy reaping the fruits of your labor, and it’s a great way to get the kids to eat vegetables. Love, Mom

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