We have been BUSY around this household! I have immersed myself in a completely thrilling new venture – which I’ll tell you about – soon, and in the meantime, we still have a jam-packed home project to-do list. We have a huge outdoor project coming up and wanted to establish some raised beds for spring planting before things get too crazy. We also wanted a place to put the soil that will be dug up and moved around in our yard. After a supply run to Home Depot, we built these fast and easy DIY raised garden boxes in a matter of just a couple hours start to finish! Is that amazing or what??!! This project was so simple and so satisfying, I wanted to share the secret here so that everyone who wants a vegetable or herb garden this year can get a jump start on their raised beds – I’ll never do it another way again!
The most time-consuming part of this project is leveling out the soil. If you are not doing this project after fresh rain when the soil is ideal for raking, set a sprinkler on the area for a few hours and then allow the soil to drain out – you’ll have a nice moist area to work with. Loosen the soil in the entire area with a rake and level it out as best you can before you start. We will level it out at each step, also, but it’s good to be close before you’re moving the cinder blocks around.
The secret ingredient to building the easiest raised beds EVER are these nifty little pre-grooved cinder blocks. I found mine at Home Depot in the garden department. They stack, they have a groove on each of the four sides that perfectly fits a 2×6 board, and there’s a hole in the middle for rebar to secure everything when you’re all set! And they’re cheap – just a couple bucks each.
So, you’ll build your frame one square at a time. We used 4′ wide by 3′ deep sections of 2×6 redwood to build the boxes. Redwood holds up well and looks beautiful – you don’t want to use treated lumber that might seep chemicals into your food if you’re planting edibles. We purchased 12′ boards and then cut them down into 3′ and 4′ sections. You’ll need two 4′ boards and two 3′ boards for each square, for each level – make sense? Lay out your potential design, and find the center and sides of your garden area, then begin forming the first square. Measure the back two cinder blocks to ensure they’re equidistant from the wall or fence line and there is enough room to walk around the bed.
Place the front two cinder blocks and all four boards. Check each side and each angle with a level to make sure that the box is actually square and everything is level. Use your rake to adjust the soil height as needed until everything is perfect square and level.
Once your first square is set, begin adding one section at a time until you have your entire “floor plan” laid out, square, and level! I chose to make an inverted U for easy access around all the sides of my garden boxes, but you can build yours however you like!! After you have your floor plan designed, it takes just a matter of minutes to build out the different levels. I would make each garden box at least 2 blocks high. I have the front two boxes at two blocks, the two back sides and three blocks, and the center back at four blocks. Slide all your boards into place – Graham cut the boards while I slid them into place and we knocked the whole thing out in about 15 minutes once the framework was done. The entire project, including hauling all the blocks and wood from the car and raking out the garden, took us no more than 2 hours. We still need to come back and pound some rebar in through the center of each cinder block tower for reinforcement, but it’s nearly done and we’re thrilled!
Our garden boxes are ready for soil and then we’ll get those baby veggies planted as soon as the weather starts warming up!! I look forward to updating you with the progress! In total for our project design, we used: 36 cinder block things and 14- 2’x6’x12′ boards of redwood! So much fun to have a yard project that doesn’t suck up the whole weekend and break our backs!