Saturday, January 10, 2009

Raised Beds

Katina, at Gardening in Austin, was asking about the construction of my raised beds. I've had several readers and personal friends ask about them so I thought I would show how they were built. First off I must say I am a known frugalist. I don't know that it's a word but it sounds better than tightwad. I will spend several hundred dollars on a new fly rod but some things just must be done on the cheap. Gardening stuff falls into that category.

When I built these beds, some over ten years ago, I went with what I had and what I know. I had wrecked out, 2"x6" redwood porch decking and I know metal. The metal was scraps from the shop. The total cost of these beds for me was just the cost of a box of screws. Now that's being cheap--uhh, I mean frugal.

The heart of these beds is the corner brackets. They are made of 2"x4" angle iron with eight holes in them. The boards are screwed to the short side of the angle first and then the board is placed on the long side. This keeps the screws on both boards away from the end of the board where it would be more likely to split. By doing it this way instead of just nailing the boards to the ends of the other boards, it keeps the pressure of the dirt pushing sideways to the screws instead of always trying to push the screws in an outward direction. You can see what I mean in this picture. Pretend like you don't notice the Henbit I need to pull.

Not even one bed has gotten loose in all these years. I put plastic down in the walkways before I graveled and it keeps a neat and almost weed free area around them.

The only mistake I made, and to me it was a big one, was to make different sizes of beds. Most of my beds are 3' x 8' but four are 4' x 8' and a few are narrower and longer. You need the first two sizes only. With consistent sizes you can have bent hoops that fit any bed so you can easily install shade or frost cloth. The hoops can be slipped into screwed on cable clamps placed on the sides of the beds. And with the beds being wood it is easy to put trellises up from the sides.

I have built these beds for several friends and my Dad as well. They have worked well for all and I can't imagine anyone gardening any other way.


Helen Ruth said...

I'm planning to build some raised beds this spring. For the past couple of years, I've been growing from pots. Thanks for the cheap, I mean frugal idea on the brackets!

Chandramouli S said...

What a simple and 'cheap' ( meant in the positive way :P) design! Really! Why waste money when you can get away with almost none? Great Bob!

katina said...

Thanks for posting this! you just make it look so easy. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Bob.
Are all of your raised beds in full sun? Do you have any form of irigation in them?
Good tip on the corner brackets, but that Henbit is a total disgrace! :)
- Never coming back here again!!!


PS That "Dozer" track in your previous post was a brilliant idea, whoever decided to do it. A Loch Ness Monster, with a Texas accent!

Rock rose said...

Tell us more about those angle brackets? Do you buy or make? Where?

Tabor said...

We just finished making such beds this past fall. We did not have any cedar deck to tear down and ended up paying quite a bit of money for the worst grade cedar that they had. OUr are mostly the same size but not a neatly put together as yours. Hoping they will last a decade or more. Actually hoping we will last a decade or more!

Laurie said...

We just built our raised beds this past weekend and found your post through The Pioneer Woman's site. Anyway, we looked all over for some suitable corner brackets to put on our beds. We could not find any. Can you tell me where I can get some like the ones you are using? Any chance you sell ones that you make?