Building Raised Garden Beds in Tennessee

Building Raised Garden Beds

June 06, 2020

Summer is here and we have garden beds filled with veggies! We are sharing more about how we built our beds so that you’ll be inspired to do the same.

Photography By Kelly Savoca

Finally, I’ve taken some time to compile all of the info related to building our garden beds. Over March & April, we purchased cedar, soil, tools, netting, and more to complete 3 garden beds. The sizes of our beds are (2) 8’ x 4’ x 12” and (1) 4’ x 4’ x 12” that is centered around the other two beds. If you missed this in March I’ll share it here again with some additional resources + price information.

Raised Garden Beds Nashville

Why? We decided to make raised beds because our soil is very rocky & clay-based. If you do decide to plant in ground you can get a soil test done and check to see if you need to make some amendments.
 
What? Untreated B Grade Cedar from Grant Cedar Mill at 9 boards | $156.00 (incl. tax)
We used 2” wide boards = 8’ x 12” x 2” (Included 1 extra board.)
 
We used a "B" grade to save money. "A" grade has a nicer finish but we hand-selected the "B" grade and found quite a few boards that looked as good as the "A" Grade. Also, some boards had one side (that could go towards the inside of the bed) and another that would be great for the exterior. It’s also worth mentioning that although you may have the wood on hand that can be recycled for this purpose you may not know the finish that was used. The reason this is important is that it can leach into the soil. Always look for untreated.
 
3 screws at each corner evenly spaced + 2 screws per steel strap
 
Various PVC Piping
Corner & Center 2” x 2’ Piping Inserts to Stabilize Hoops at 10 pieces | $52.00
4 at the small bed (corners), 6 at each large bed (corners & center) cut to size
 
Hoops ½” x 10’ Piping at 18 pieces | $33.30
4 hoops at the small bed, 7 hoops at each large bed cut to size
 
PVC Caps 2” at 16 pieces | $28.80
4 at the small bed, 6 at each large bed
 
½ “ Galvanized Steel Strap with Holes | $5.53
Cut to size to hold PVC inserts in place within the beds
 
Earthmix Premium Top Soil Blend from Bates Nursery & Garden Center | $149.98
2.25 C/ Y Filled 3 Beds + Some Additional Containers
 
Insect Netting from Agfabric | $104.01 Total
2 pieces of 10’ x 20’ & 1 piece of 8’ x 10’
 
Clips ½” x 4” to Hold Netting Into Place at 4 Bags | $37.56
8 pieces at the small bed, 13 pieces at each large bed
 
Round Magnets 11/16” at 1 package | 10.99
Use as needed to weigh down the netting
 
Power Drill, Circular Saw, Paintbrush, & Scissors | On Hand
 

How? 1| My husband chose to cut the wood using a circular saw so that we could easily customize our boxes. Don’t fret! If you prefer to avoid as many tools as possible you can also buy a kit. You can check those out HERE.

Measuring Cedar for Garden Beds     Wood Sealer for Raised Garden Beds
 
2| He then sanded each board to make applying a sealer easier.
 
3| We oiled ours with a plant-based oil to help seal the wood. We used AFM Safecoat Clear Penetrating Oil as we had this on hand. I’ve heard there are other options using whey that stand up against UV rays and mildew but those may only be best for the exterior. You can check that out here but I’d be sure to double-check on best practice.
 
You could also choose not to seal the wood at all which is why cedar is a great choice! Cedar is naturally resistant to rot (more so the heartwood although it is harder to come by) but it will grey over time without any sealer.
 
4 | From here we marked the area where we were placing the boxes and removed the grass. We removed about 2” deep of grass and did it in squares so that we could reuse this grass elsewhere in our yard.
 

Some twine & chopsticks are good enough to mark the area where you’ll be placing the boxes. Also, it’s a good idea to use a level to check the ground where you remove the dirt. If it is not level try to adjust this BEFORE placing in your boards.

Making Raised Garden Beds
 
5 | Built the beds! To make it easier on yourself have a partner in mind to help with this process. While setting up the boards isn’t difficult it helps to have someone putting pressure on the boards to keep them together at the corners. This way they won’t try to separate once the screws enter the adjoining piece of wood.
 
Each corner received 3 screws using a power drill and was evenly spaced top to bottom. During this process, we made sure everything was coming up level and that all boards were aligning nicely.
 

You can check out our video here which shows us building the beds with our pups!

 
6 | From here my husband added PVC piping with brackets at each corner and the center of the longer beds. These are meant to hold the slimmer PVC piping that will form hoops. The hoops will keep the netting in place when we need it. We also purchased caps for this piping. This way when they are not in use they won’t be able to collect water, soil, etc.
 

He cut these to fit at the inside of the bed with a hand saw  – so under 12”. Then started by placing a small square of weed fabric under the PVC pipe at the corner. From here, he trimmed the metal brackets so that they fit diagonally across the corner and held the PVC pipe in place – see photo. Then he drilled a screw in at each side. Repeat this process throughout the beds.

Creating Hoops for Garden Beds     PVC Piping in Garden
 
7 | Next up we added soil! Again, a partner might come in handy with this to save you time. We purchased soil in bulk to lower costs and to avoid bags. We used a wheelbarrow to transport the soil and filled each bed about 90% of the way up.
 
While doing this we made sure that the PVC piping in the corners had soil sitting around the piping. This will make sure they are standing straight and not tilted at an angle. This will be important when you go to make your hoops.
 

8 | Then we tested the hoops. By taking the slimmer PVC pipes we started placing them along the edges and into the piping within the bed. See below. Everything fit pretty snug and then we were all set for netting!

Building a Hoop House
 
9 | We placed the netting over the hoops to determine where we needed to trim. We trimmed ours slightly as it was longer at the shorter edges than we needed it to be.
 

10 | From here we snapped the clips with the netting onto the hoops and added magnets to the bottom of the netting. The magnets weigh the netting down which can be helpful on windy days.

Clips on Garden Hoops     Garden Magnets for Hoops
 
11 | Enjoy all of your hard work! Well, you might need to plant some things first.
 

Total Cost:

$ 608.14
 
Roughly $202 per bed including soil & the insect netting feature.
 

Compared to similar-sized raised bed kits that could be savings up to $135 per bed not to mention this included soil and netting. Also, keep in mind we could build another 4’ x 4’ bed with the wood we have left. Now you should give it a shot for Fall! 

Raised Garden Beds with Netting

Building garden beds or know someone who is? If so tag us at #cottonandmoss on Instagram or share this post below!



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