Build a Raised Bed

A simple way to build raised bed frames.

By Doug Hall


When it came time to build new raised beds for the Organic Gardening Test Garden last spring, the executive director of the Rodale Institute, where our test garden is located, recommended a simple design. Mark Smallwood—“Coach,” as he’s known around the Institute—showed us how to build a raised bed using four pieces of untreated framing lumber, with not a scrap of waste. Each bed requires:

  • Three 2-by-12 boards, 8 feet long
  • One 2-by-4 board, 8 feet long
  • 21/2-inch galvanized deck screws (approximately 28 screws)

When purchasing lumber, inspect it for straightness. Straighter boards will result in tighter corners. Cut one of the 2-by-12 boards in half to make two 4-foot lengths; these will be the two end pieces.

How to build a raised bed-step 1

Cut the 2-by-4 board into one 4-foot length, to serve as a center brace, and four 1-foot lengths for corner supports. The two uncut boards will become the sides of the raised bed.

How to build a raised bed-step 2

After drilling pilot holes, attach one of the side boards to an end board with three evenly spaced screws.