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How to Build a Raised Garden Bed

Todd Sledge May 23, 2023

We’re in the heart of growing season here in Colorado! If you’ve dreamt of harvesting your own fruits, vegetables and herbs from your garden, this is the year to make it happen.
Raised garden beds are a great way to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers in your backyard. Not only do they offer better soil drainage and less soil compaction, but they also make gardening more accessible for people with physical limitations. Not to mention, when it comes time to sell your house, you’ve just added a built-in amenity for the next homeowner to enjoy.
Building a raised garden bed is a straightforward project that can be completed in a weekend. Here’s a step-by-step guide for constructing your very own raised garden bed! And of course, if you want more than one, just double or triple the “recipe.”


  • Cedar boards (2×6 or 2×8), cut to the desired length and width of your garden bed
  • 4×4 cedar posts (one post for each corner of the garden bed)
  • Deck screws
  • Landscape fabric
  • Soil and compost mix


  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Shovel
  • Level

Step 1: Choose the Location

Choose a location in your yard that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. Avoid low-lying areas that collect standing water after a rainstorm. And of course, avoid hilly areas, where you will have to spend a significant amount of time digging to create a level surface. Also, make sure you have plenty of room around the garden beds to walk, so you can easily water, maintain, and ultimately harvest your bounty!

Step 2: Cut the Boards and Posts

Cut your cedar boards to the desired length and width of your garden bed. Then, cut your 4×4 cedar posts to the height of your desired garden bed. A common height for raised garden beds is 12-18 inches. If you don’t have a saw, you can get your lumber cut at Home Depot and Lowe’s. At Home Depot, the first two cuts on up to 10 different pieces of lumber are free and just 10 cents per piece after that. And at Lowe’s, there isn’t a national policy for a limit of free cuts — but just ask before they start cutting! No matter where you are, make sure you purchase the wood at that store to take advantage of their cutting services.

Step 3: Assemble the Frame

Lay out the boards on a flat surface to form a rectangle. Place the 4×4 corner posts inside the frame and screw them into place using deck screws. Make sure the frame is square (or rectangle!) by measuring the diagonals and adjusting as needed. Once assembled, set the frame in its spot in the yard.

Step 4: Install the Landscape Fabric

Line the bottom of the garden bed with landscape fabric to prevent weeds from growing up through the soil. Cut the fabric to size and staple it to the inside of the frame.

Step 5: Fill the Bed with Organic Material

So you don’t waste precious (and expensive) soil, put a layer of organic material at the bottom of your garden bed. This helps fill a large portion of the space, and will eventually break down and enrich the soil. Organic material includes woody material, like dry wood, branches, leaves, and even logs, all of which you can source from your yard for free!

Step 6: Fill the Bed with Soil

On top of that, fill the garden bed with soil and compost mix, leaving about 1-2 inches of space at the top of the frame. Use a shovel and rake to level the soil and create a smooth planting surface.

Step 7: Plant Your Garden

Plant your desired vegetables, herbs, or flowers in the garden bed, following the recommended spacing and depth for each plant. For Northern Colorado, use this planting calendar for Fort Collins, which includes dates for both the spring and fall for just about every fruit, vegetable and herb you can imagine. It will help you know when to start seeds indoors, when to transplant young plants outside, and when to sow seeds directly into the soil. Water the garden bed thoroughly after planting.

Step 8: Maintain Your Garden

Maintain your garden bed by watering it regularly, adding fertilizer or compost as needed, and removing weeds as they appear. And now you have a garden bed for the seasons ahead, and you can try all sorts of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers, learning what grows best in your yard!

Happy Gardening!

With these simple steps, you can build your own raised garden bed and enjoy fresh, healthy produce right from your backyard. Happy gardening!

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