Tired of fighting your lousy soil? You can build a raised bed in an afternoon for less than $60.
I've always thought that gardening should be simple. So you can imagine how excited I was when I came across a design for a corrugated-tin raised bed that would let me grow whatever I wanted regardless of the soil. It doesn't cost much to build, looks great, and can be assembled in no time. If only all my forays into the garden offered such quick rewards.
Easy To Build
Step 1: Select a place that is flat and receives at least four to six hours of sun. Rake the area clear of debris.
Step 2: Measure out the dimensions of the bed, and mark the four corners with stakes. From the corners, measure both diagonal distances across the bed. If these distances are equal, the bed will be a true rectangle.
Step 3: Tie some string between the stakes to ensure that the posts are aligned and to see how large the bed will be. A 12- x 4-foot bed is big enough to grow lots of plants but still allows you to reach the middle.
Step 4: Cut the metal posts so they will be at least a foot or so underground. I made my bed 1 1/2 feet deep, so the total post length was 2 1/2 feet. Vary the height depending on who will use the bed. Make it slightly taller for gardeners with back problems.
Step 5: Drive the corner posts into the ground with a sledgehammer. I put a 2-inch threaded bolt on top of the posts to create a solid surface for driving them into the heavy clay soil. If you have looser soil, you may want to dig a large hole and pour in concrete to ensure the posts remain in place. Hammer two more posts 4 feet apart on both of the long sides to provide support for the tin.
Step 6: Using 2-inch metal screws, attach the corrugated tin to the outside of the posts, flush with the top of each one. If the metal sheets are not precut, use tin snips to cut them in half. Be sure to wear heavy gloves when working with corrugated tin, because the edges are very sharp.
Step 7: Rip the wood planks (composite or pressure-treated) in half lengthwise with a circular saw so they are 3 inches wide and fit the dimensions of the bed. Clamp the wood strips flush onto the outside edge of the corrugated tin, and screw them to the posts with 2-inch metal screws.
Step 8: Put a wood cap on the raised bed. Cut the wood or composite lumber to equal the length and width of your bed, and then cut the ends at a 45-degree angle. This allows the ends to butt up against one another at a diagonal, forming a strong joint. Screw the wood cap onto the top of the wood strips on the side of the bed using 2-inch deck screws.
Step 9: Fill the bed in with topsoil, and then add your favorite plants.
Note: New standards for pressure-treated lumber have removed concerns about toxic materials leaching into soil.
- Eight 30-inch metal posts (cut from chain-link fenceposts)
- 32 feet of 1 1/2-foot-wide corrugated tin (cut from 3-foot-wide pieces or purchased precut)
- 64 feet of 1- x 3-inch lumber cut from 1- x 6-inch planks (pressure-treated or composite, such as Trex)
- ¼ pound of 2-inch metal screws
- 1/8 pound 2-inch galvanized deck screws
- 2 yards of topsoil
Cost estimate: $50-$60 (You can save money by using pressure-treated lumber for the cap instead of composite wood.)