Thursday, July 5, 2007

Building a Cedar Raised Bed Garden

In my previous post, I detailed the design and plan for my raised bed garden. After a couple months building it on a limited time basis, I've completed the garden. There some change to my original plan like adding a drip irrigation system and putting blue stones in the pathways. The following is my journal of getting it from design to completion. Before I start, here are a few photos of my finished garden with vegetables!

Cutting the Lumber

I started cross cutting the 4x4 into size (28 inches). Next is to dado out a slot (3/4 deep) from the 4x4 pieces. Because my table saw can't dado out more than 3/4 at a time, I have to run 3 passes for each slot. The most challenging part is creating the 45 degree slots.

Next came the cross cutting of the 2x6 pieces. 4ft. and 32" lengths. Now we're ready for assembly.


Originally, I planned to use outdoor wood glue to tie the pieces together, but I decided that would be too much of a hassle and I ended up using deck screws. The assembly is pretty straight forward. You build your raised bed containers upside down. It's important to assembly it in a level surface, I did it in my car garage. Just slide the 2x6 pieces into the 4x4 slots. This is where a rubber mallet comes handy for those tight fits. Once in it's in place, I used a 2 1/2 inch screws to toe-nail (screen) the 2x6 into the 4x4 post. For the first level, I recommend using 2 screws, 1 toe-nail and 1 from the side of the post. On the other levels, just a toe-nail is good enough.

All the raised beds assembled and sitting my garage. Now I just need some muscles to move them into my yard. Because it's made from cedar lumber it's surprisingly light.

Installing the beds

Because the area where I'm installing is basically my old garden, so digging a 8 inch deep hole is not a big effort because the soil is relatively soft and easily dig into. The spacing I chose between the corner beds is dictate by my arbor, which around 42 inches wide.

After installing the raised beds and arbor.

One of the biggest pain in my old garden is watering the plants and vegetables. I don't mine doing the regular watering, but the pain is that the nearest water spout is 60 feet away. Dragging the hose 60 feet every time I want to water is not what I enjoy. After some research, I decided on a drip irrigation system. If you Google on drip irrigation, there are lots of links that'll get you started, I definitely recommend reading these URLs:

I bought most of my irrigation parts from the Drip Store, which have some excellent articles about drip irrigation in general. My plan was just to water my raised bed garden, but I ended up running hose to all my plants around my house. I'm very happy with the results so far. Now back to the garden, I used mostly 1 G.P.H. emmiters and a 10 G.P.H. mister in each raised bed container.

Adding the Soil
This is perhaps the most difficult part of the project. I estimate I would need 5 cu. yard of soil to fill the beds. So I order the soil from my local nursery, 3 cu. yards of mushroom soil and 2 cu. yards of "organic" soil mix together before delivery to my driveway. In order to get the soil into the beds, I have to use a ramp so my wheelbarrow to clear the top of the raised top so I can dump the soil into them. Moving 5 cu. yard of heavy soil is not fun!!!. My plan is to top off my beds annually with compost and work it into the existing soil.

Finishing Touches
  • I decided to install 5/4 x 4 boards on top of the edge of the corner raised bed. It'll allow you to sit on the bed while working on the garden.
  • I put 18x18 and 12x12 cut Pennsylvania blue stone in the pathway and fill the gaps with medium size river gravel I got from Home Depot.
  • I also built 5 ft tall trellises for climbing vegetables.

Overall, the raised beds turn out great. It's early July and with all the benefits of a raised bed garden, my vegetables have never look better. Because of this, I'm planning of expanding it next spring, maybe 2 more containers and multi-level.

UPDATED (Feb 16, 2009), some of you requested more photos of my build, I've uploaded all the photos I taken during this project to my personal photo site. All the photos can be view here.


Anonymous said...

I've been looking for some ideas for a raised garden and you definately gave me some good ideas.


Anonymous said...

This is Awesome I picked this same design for my first attempt to vegie garden from the same webite w/raised bed designs. My husband as we speak is building it in my gagrage...I love the arbor idea and the drip irrigation. It is beautiful thanx for sharing and inspiring!
-Gardener From N.Florida

DT said...


Thanks all for the compliments. This is definitely worth the effort. Our vegetables yield on our raised bed garden was incredible. We could not keep up with it. We gave away so much vegetables to our friends and family. I think the combination of raised bed and drip irrigation system is what the catalyst. My wife even suggesting expanding our garden. Over the winter season so far, our garden is aging nicely, graying out. I like that gray-silver look.

Good luck,

Anonymous said...

Last year we started adding some raised beds, and want to do more this year. I've been trying to figure out how we should do it, and you've given me some great ideas! I think I can even get my hubby to read this, or at least look at the pics! Great post!

Infinite Cosmos said...

we made some raised beds when we moved into our house and they are nowhere near as intricate as those! Those are absolutely stunning! They look like they'll work great for you!

Simon said...

Hi - great blog - I've been looking at this for a while but haven't gotten around to trying it out. My main problem is that I don't have a dado blade for my table saw and where I'm located they seem pretty scarce and very expensive. Do you think that you could somehow use a router to cut out the grooves in the posts? I would much rather put my money into a quality router that I'd get more reuse out of than a dado set which in all likely hood is going to sit in a box somewhere.


Damaged Tree said...


I'm glad you like my article. It's been 2 summers and I love the results. My vegetables yield is excellent. Plus, the cedar is aging nicely. I should take some updated photos.

I think you can us a router to cut the grooves. The most difficult grooves would be the 45-degree angle cut. I don't know how you would do that safely. If you can swing that, I agreed with your assessment. The dado blades allow me easily cut the 45-degree angle. I don't know why a set of dado blades are expensive in your area. Here is the U.S, mine cost only $40 for the a set. Not the best, but I'm not building fine furniture.

Feel free to contact me if you need help. Try

Good luck

Chaz said...

I really like what you are doing on your blog here!

Anonymous said...


This truly is a great post and has inspired me to build my own. i was wondering if you have the sketchup model avail to share.

if so, can you add a link to the article?

Regards, George

Damaged Tree said...


I added a couple of SketchUp files to the design article and I uploaded all my photos taken during this project. For those who are adventurist and built themselves a raised bed garden, please share your experience. I would gladly post/link it your builds.


IrrigationDirect said...

Nice article and I like that you explain it using images. I also like your other post.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful design. How is the wood holding up with the moist soil? Did you line the boxes or finish them with a sealant?


wholesale fern said...

There are many perennials that can add to the beauty of any place in a few months, if due care and attention is paid while choosing and growing them.

Anonymous said...
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草莓 said...
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Drip Irrigation System said...

Those beds look amazing! Glad to see that you installed a drip system in the beds. Watering is so much more efficient than using a garden hose. Visited your site with the more photos and they all looked great!

Diana said...

What a beautiful garden! Where did you purchase the cedar lumber? I was thinking to make a cedar raised bed, and went to Home Depot looking for cedar lumber and a guy in that department looked puzzled, said he didnt' think they carried it, and all I saw was cedar fencing. Thanks in advance for your help, Diana in Oakland, Ca

Damaged Tree said...

Hi Diana,

I bought my cedar lumber at my local Lowes store. I would check Lowes's website to see if they have cedar at your store. I know not all Lowes store has Cedar lumber. You can check other local lumbermill, I'm suspecting they are probably even less expensive than the big box stores. It might be in rough lumber form.

Good Luck

Susan Graham said...

This tool looks as though it will be perfect. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

Fluid Studio said...

Great article! It can be a pain when getting an efficient irrigation system. If you'd like help designing a fully custom sprinkler system, Orbit Irrigation has a sprinkler system designer that works great, find it at

cgfluid said...

The irrigation system is THE most important part of any garden project. Make sure when you are searching for a sprinkler system you get a company that does it right the first time. Save yourself a lot of time and check out Orbit first, they know what they are doing and also offer a free sprinkler system designer. Go here first:

rustic beds said...

It’s a pretty interesting tool. I will definitely be using it once I get the chance. Thanks for sharing!

Susan Graham

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zuo modern said...

bed design it end up choosing. Many do not even consider a metal bed, for example. Wood is without doubt the best option for most people, as less energy to extract timber in the creation of metal, in most cases. It is also more comfortable to the touch than metal, and provide a degree of more rigid metal that does not work.

Drew said...
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Drew said...

I really enjoyed reading your article and commend your efforts to share your hard work with others! I just bought a house and have been looking for diy landscaping ideas and this post has some of the best info I've been able to find. The resources and links you posted were especially helpful too. I would like to know if you did or thought about finishing all that cedar you bought. I figure since the wood is full of wet soil it might degrade significantly in a few years, even if it is quality wood like cedar. Any thoughts here would be appreciated. Thanks again for sharing!

Anonymous said...

WOW! Great tutorial! Thank you so much!

free shed plans said...

The design of your raised garden looks amazing.So glad to have found the very detailed tutorials you posted here, it inspired me to create for my garden as well. Thanks a lot.

Drip Irrigation said...

Your design is good so far but did you still continuing in your garden? I havent seen latest posts of your garden.

Jenny said...

These are really stunning. I don't if log beds for your garden will also work. Nonetheless these are definitely great to look at.

Linda said...

How deep are these? And do you have to put drain holes on the sides also?

Dianne said...

I have lots of pallet timber. Could I make it with this if I doubled it?

Sab Alex said...

We make herb planters from up cycled timber pallets. These are conveniently sized planter
that are great to have near the kitchen so they can be accessed easily when cooking.Raised garden bed

Anonymous said...

What's your measurements and lumber sizes on your arbor