How to Make and Fill Raised Garden Beds
Raised garden beds have always been a smart, easy way to plant seeds almost anywhere. They are invaluable in the vegetable garden, but are also great for aromatic flowers or succulents.

If the conditions in your yard are less than ideal - hard rocky clay; uneven terrain - raised beds are the ultimate solution. These tall mounds are usually contained in a rectangular frame with complete flexibility: you can draw them anywhere, fill them with your ideal soil mix, and plant them more densely than normal gardens, which means weeds less.

adjust size

Scout your yard, decide what you want to grow, and paint a bed in the right light; food, for example, needs at least six hours of sun. The length of the box depends on your space, but the width is important: You want to be able to weed and touch plants without stepping on and crushing them or compacting the soil. If it's against a wall or fence, keep it under two and a half feet, or five feet wide if you can reach in from the side. Plan for each bed to be at least a foot deep.


You can build a raised bed from weathering steel, stone, or brick, but planks are the most common material and the easiest for beginners. Choose untreated wood such as rot-resistant cedar, cypress, or acacia. Avoid pressure-treated wood boards, which contain chemicals that can leach into the soil—especially important if you plan to grow food.

line it up

If your ground soil is healthy, keep it outside. If you live in a city where you're concerned about soil contamination with lead or other chemicals, or want to grow plants on a patio or other concrete surface, secure heavy-duty landscaping or weed-blocking fabric to the bottom of the bed before placing. This breathable cloth can block harmful substances and prevent the soil from being washed away. You can also choose a bed with legs off the ground.


Pour the topsoil and compost mixture into your box (ask an expert or your county co-op for advice on the correct ratio), leaving about an inch of space below the top of the frame. For example, a bed that is 6 feet by 4 feet and 13 inches deep requires about a cubic yard of soil. Remember, you'll need more soil and compost each year to make your beds. Now for the fun part: start planting!

Precast in the shade

If you don't want to go the DIY route, there are plenty of garden beds on the market that you can order and assemble. Read on to discover some of our favorite options.