Raised Garden Plans

Building A Raised Garden Part 2: The Plan and The Parts

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot. Late Enough and The Home Depot are teaming up to bring a four-part series on building a raised garden. 

We went off to The Home Depot to buy our materials because sadly raised gardens don’t sprout out of the ground by themselves.

Raised Garden Plans
Scott and I drawing up plans for our raised garden. We like to think on our feet. Or on the Garden Club’s table.

I would recommend drawing up the plans before heading to the store, but we’ve been building for long enough and are perhaps a little over-confident after we created a small home in our backyard. Our design became more and more complicated as we asked our associate, Will, where the large picket fences were in between debating whether to build it log cabin style from landscaping timber.

I dialed us back a bit when I remembered that I am having surgery next week and maybe we should stick to building one beautiful raised garden now and work on blending it into our front yard after a part of my body is removed.

We went with 4×8 garden with a 6 inch bed and a 12 inch bed. (The simplest raised garden would be a 4×4 garden with a 6 inch deep bed if you wanted to go that route.)

Multi-level Raised Garden Plan
Our multi-level raised garden bed plan. Or as simple as we can be.

The wood frame:

  • We chose 5 3/4x6x8 cedar planks for aesthetics but any non-rotting wood works.
  • We bought 1 2x4x96 framing lumber to anchor the corners and to create a multi-level bed.
  • Optional: We bought thin cedar planks and used hinges we had at home to build a folding trellis at the far end of our raised garden for our vines. (2 3/4x2x8 to form the sides, 4 3/4x1x8 for the cross-beams) I like the idea of a triangular trellis rather than a vertical one because it seems like less pressure on the plant especially when the fruit is near picking time. However, if you aren’t growing vines like cucumbers, watermelons or cantaloupes then you don’t need this and you can buy trellises as well.
  • Another option: Buy a raised garden kit.

The tools:

  • Screws. We used leftover galvanized deck screws that are a bit too long but whatever. Ideally, you would use 1 inch or 1.5 inch non-rusting (outdoor) screws.
  • Circular saw or a handsaw and lots of muscles. However, if you are making a simple raised garden, The Home Depot will make the cuts for you since there aren’t many.
  • Tape measure.
  • Drill.

The dirt:

  • Most bags come in cubic feet so get your math on and don’t be surprised at how much you need. We bought 16 bags of organic soil.
Organic Soil from The Home Depot
We didn’t even ask for help. I did ask if it was okay to take their picture for this piece.

The plants:

I think for toddlers and preschoolers, planting seedlings, more than seeds, is better because seeds are pretty boring at first. I also recommend buying plants you  and your family eat so don’t buy 8 tomato plants if your kid hates them. However, my daughter only eats tomatoes we grow so don’t not buy them either.

I try at least one new plant each year, and I have my favorites that I plant every year. Finally, have fun with what you plant but read something on them before you go to the store and then at the store read the tag so you know how much you can plant in your garden (the tags state how far apart each plant should be from another plant). Or buy back up pots like me so when you over-buy, you can still grow everything.

  • Tomatoes: This year we’ll be planting cherry and a new yellow tomato that is less acidic so my oldest might be more interested in it. Tomatoes are easy and abundant as long as they have sun and every so often you think: Oh gee I should water those guys. I noticed a lot of tomato plants come with tomato cages now. We have our own from previous years in pretty colors that you’ll see next week. Tomatoes need support as they flourish.
  • Peppers: Red and yellow and orange (I don’t like green). I would like to do one hot banana pepper because I love them but I’m scared my kids will accidentally pick and eat it. I think I’ll have to pot the hot ones.
  • Cucumbers: These are tricky. I haven’t had a good long season since 2005. I get a few good ones but the minute cucumbers are stressed, they turn sour. I need to ask my pickling friends if I could still pickle those. Anyway, I always plant more than one vine because they are so tough to manage.
  • Watermelon: My kids love watermelon but the vines are long so our trellis needs to a good size and able to manage the weight.
  • Cantaloupe: My kids also love these but I’ve never tried to grow them probably because I don’t like to eat them. We’ll see how it goes this year.
  • Sweet Potatoes: I love potatoes and because we have the deep garden, I’m tempted by them this year even though they are a little boring for kids. I did onions last year and even I got impatient and dug one up way to early. Oops.
  • Strawberries: I think one of my strawberry plants came back from last year, but I’m not quite sure what’s going on in that pot so if it doesn’t flower, I may throw one into the garden. Strawberry plants are like tomatoes — abundant and easy — except the birds are so much faster than me at getting the berries.
  • Herbs: These days, I put all my herbs in pots now because most of them can survive the winter in Richmond, and our raised gardens are not permanent because of the size of our lawn. I have a sage plant from 2006. Also, some herbs are aggressive. For example, mint should never be put in a garden because it will take over the entire thing, but it’s lovely in a pot. However, I think herbs are great in gardens. I once did a themed tea garden with herbs, and I’ve grown all sorts of things like catnip (you really need to like cats to do that though because they will come from miles). The key with herbs is to plant ones you’ll use or you’ll smell. Like I will hug my rosemary plant all day long even if I rarely cook with it so that was a great choice. Thyme? Not so much for me.
Delicious and sneaky. I can't resist you.
Delicious and sneaky. I can’t resist you cucumbers even if you thwart me in my drought-prone summers.

I can’t wait to show you guys our edible raised garden when it’s done, and I look forward to seeing yours!

UPDATE: Check out all my posts on how to build a raised garden and have fun

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Home Depot. I was compensated.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

7 thoughts to “Building A Raised Garden Part 2: The Plan and The Parts”

  1. Cort put our little 4×4 together yesterday. Today we are getting the dirt and hopefully planting since it’s going to be a little rainy this week. Eddie is SO excited about it all. Hm. maybe I should blog ours too.

  2. Zucchini is one of my favorites, in addition to tomatoes, herbs, and peppers. And in Louisiana, I LOVED growing okra, but I had zero luck with it in Virginia last year. I’m still not used to such a different growing season and climate… learning curve. 🙂

    1. We don’t eat zucchini enough so I had to take it out of the rotation a few years ago — I need better zucchini recipes from you.
      It is hard when you move zones. I’ve even struggles when I’ve changing up where I garden. The first year I ever grew food, I planted directly into the ground and everything flourished. Then I moved to a permanent raised walled garden and then we moved so I moved to pots and then we moved again so I moved to these temporary raised garden like the one in this post. Each has been full of adjustments and those were all in the state of Virginia!

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