Build a raised bed: Instructions for building it yourself

Whether from pallets, wood or with a kit: There are many ways to build a raised bed yourself. We’ll show you how.

Raised beds come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes and are made from a wide variety of materials. A raised bed is typically made of wood. At the moment, raised beds made of pallets are particularly popular, and raised beds made of stone are also a real eye-catcher. Below you will find building instructions for the most popular materials you can use to build a raised bed yourself.

Build a raised bed yourself: choice of location and basics

The choice of location is very important when building a raised bed. The subsurface should provide stability for the bed and should therefore not have been freshly filled up. A level location where there are no large tree roots and which is well exposed (possibly even sheltered from the wind) is ideal for a raised bed.

Weed fleece and rabbit wire protect the self-made raised bed

A rabbit wire as closely as possible should be attached to the underside of the raised bed in order to keep away annoying rodents such as voles. A hand or electric tacker is best for fastening. In the case of beds that are difficult to attach to (such as stone beds), the wire is laid on the ground and the bed is erected over it.

If there are many root weeds (such as bindweed or bindweed, stinging nettle, etc.) near the raised bed location, an additional weed fleece should be attached between rabbit wire (close-meshed) and the contents of the raised bed. This protects against weed growth for at least a few years.

Rabbit wire protects your raised bed from voles
Make sure the wire is securely attached
Branches and fleece protect against weed growth for a long time

Pond liner in the raised bed: Protection against rotting and washing out of soil

Lining the raised bed is generally a matter of taste. Especially in beds with larger gaps between the boards or stones, a lining with pond liner or thick fleece (for example, weed fleece taken twice) makes sense because it protects against leaking water and soil. When using film, you should make sure that it does not contain any plasticizers. The more expensive the material, the more worthwhile a lining, because it naturally protects the wall material from weathering.
Black linings also cause the raised bed to heat up more, which is quite desirable. In the case of wooden materials, the film should be applied in dry weather so that the wood is not damp. The lining is best attached to the upper edge of the raised bed with a hand tacker. If you want to optimally protect the bed from weathering, the film should overlap the edge of the raised bed.

When preparing to build a raised bed yourself, the following points must be observed:

  • Choose a location that is as bright, level and away from trees as possible
  • Line the underside of the raised bed with rabbit wire (close-meshed) and, if necessary, weed fleece to protect it from voles and weeds
  • Line the side walls with thick fleece or pond liner and thus counteract the rotting of the wooden side walls or the silting out of earth through large gaps

Raised bed made from pallets

Build a raised bed yourself from pallets: Instructions

To ensure that the raised bed made of pallets is stable, it is advisable to “place” the four raised bed corner posts on concrete or stone slabs (approx. 30 × 30 cm). Their position must be precisely matched to the size of the pallets so that there is space for two corner posts of the pallets next to each other. It is best to try out whether the position of the concrete slabs is correct before screwing the pallets together. Use a spirit level to check that the plates are aligned to zero. If necessary, some earth has to be removed or filled up under the plates. When that is done, the four pallets can be attached to each other. The best way to do this is to place two pallets opposite each other, each of them being on the longer side so that the height should be 80 cm. The tops of the pallets are each facing the other pallet. Now the two remaining pallets, also standing on the longer side and with the top facing inwards, are leaned against the outside of the two other pallets.

When you have a slightly rectangular box in front of you, the pallets can be fastened together. Of course, you can also build a square raised bed from pallets. The pallets are best screwed together with 3 angles per corner. If you want to protect your raised bed from weathering from the outside, you can coat the pallets with wood stain (preferably water-based). The further procedure with rabbit wire, lining and the like has already been described above. The raised bed made of pallets can be visually embellished by attaching boards underneath the spaces on the outside of the pallets and thus creating “flower or herb boxes”. The boards don’t have to fit exactly. On the contrary, gaps are ideal for water to run off. These small boxes should definitely be lined with foil, which has to be provided with holes on the underside. In this way, the damming of water, which plants so hateful, is prevented.

Line up the corner posts with a spirit level
Place the pallets upside down towards each other
Screw on with three angles at each corner

The construction of a raised bed from standard Euro pallets in fast forward (120 x 80 x 14.4 cm):

  • If you form a rectangular raised bed from four Euro pallets, this will have dimensions of 120 x 120 cm.
  • Four concrete or stone slabs (30 x 30 cm) are to be positioned at the corners so that the corner posts of the pallets can be placed on the stone slabs.
  • A spirit level must be used to check whether the panels are level.
  • Two pallets are placed on the longer side on the two plates that are 149 cm apart. The top of the pallets faces the other pallet.
  • Two more pallets are leaned against the other pallets from the outside, also with the top of the pallet pointing inwards.
  • When a matching box with a height of 80cm results, the pallets are screwed with 3 angles per corner.

Raised bed from pallets: advantages and disadvantages

A raised bed made of pallets offers many advantages. The above building instructions only suggest one of many possible building methods. If you let your creativity run free, a raised bed made of pallets can look completely different. For example, it could be twice as big or it could be mounted on another pallet instead of on the floor. This “floor pallet” could be provided with rollers and thereby construct a mobile raised bed. However, one should never lose sight of the weights and measures with this or any other idea. An 80 cm high raised bed is definitely too heavy to be mounted on castors. Another advantage of the raised bed made of pallets is the low workload and that only a few materials are needed. At best, Euro pallets can be bought second-hand from companies or relatively cheap from the hardware store.

At 80 cm, the height of a normal raised bed made of pallets is ideal for gardening, but such a high bed also swallows up a lot of filling material. This shouldn’t be a problem for garden owners who have a lot of organic material available. For other gardeners who may have just enough space for the raised bed next to their patio, it could be a disadvantage having to buy tons of raised bed filling material from the hardware store. Another disadvantage is the lower resistance of the pallet wood compared to other types of raised bed. After all, Euro pallets are mostly made of softwood, which weathers much faster than, for example, thicker hardwood boards of a wooden raised bed or stone.

The sides of the pallet raised bed can also be planted

Raised bed made of wood

Build a raised bed yourself out of wood: Instructions

A raised bed made of wood can be built in many different ways, depending on the requirements. At this point it is explained to you how you can build a simple, but absolutely suitable raised bed yourself in a rather simple and inexpensive way.

A raised bed made of wooden boards can also be built quickly

Build a raised bed yourself out of wood: Shopping list for a raised bed about 70 to 80 cm high

  • four corner posts at least 1 m long and 8 x 8 cm or better 10 x 10 cm thick made of hardwood
  • depending on the width approx. 6 slightly longer boards (depending on the desired size of the raised bed approx. 150 to 200 cm long)
  • depending on the width approx. 6 slightly shorter boards (depending on the desired size of the raised bed approx. 90 to 120 cm long)
  • The boards should be about 3-5 cm thick, “unedged” boards from the sawmill can also be used

Tip: If you are building a raised bed yourself for the first time, you can use inexpensive spruce wood to “experiment”. If the bed is to be as weatherproof as possible, boards made of hardwood such as oak or beech are more suitable.

  • 1 large pack of nails a few inches longer than the board thickness
  • Tools: hammer, sledge hammer, hand or cordless tacker, if necessary a saw
  • Rabbit wire (close-meshed), if necessary wood glaze (water-based), if necessary weed fleece and or pond liner (see above)

Build a raised bed yourself: step by step

Step 1: The raised bed area is measured exactly according to the desired bed dimensions. At the four corners of the measured area, the wooden posts are driven about 30 cm deep into the earth. Do not hit the posts directly with a sledgehammer, but use an impact protection (e.g. a small board). If you want to protect the corner posts from weathering, you can also knock the boards into the ground with metal ground sleeves.

Step 2: To protect against gnawing small animals, a rabbit wire is placed between the corner posts and attached to the wood with a hand tacker.

Step 3: Bit by bit, the boards are now nailed to the corner posts from the outside, starting from below. So that less force is exerted on the corner posts, it is advisable to drive the nails one to two cm into the boards as early as the ground.

Step 4: If you want to lay out a weed fleece on the floor, you should attach it to the sides of the bottom boards with a hand tacker. How to proceed if you want to line the bed from the inside can be read above.

Raised bed made of wood: advantages and disadvantages

Raised beds made of wood are absolute classics. Wood looks lively and blends in nicely with the garden with its natural brown tones. No matter whether green leaves, colorful flowers or bright orange pumpkins: Everything looks beautiful with the natural, wooden brown. Assuming you use inexpensive spruce wood (perhaps unlined), then a raised bed made of wood is not an expensive proposition. Boards are easy to saw, so a wooden raised bed can be built very flexibly in all imaginable sizes. If you want a raised bed that is as long-lasting as possible, wood is just as good as a material if hardwood and a wood glaze are used. Instead of hammering the corner posts into the ground, they can also be attached to pre-fab concrete screed using post bases. Although this is much more complex, it ensures greater stability and protects against weathering. Compared to stone or plastic, however, wood cannot keep up with weather resistance.

Other materials and kits for raised beds

Raised bed kit: what speaks for it and what against it?
The advantage of a raised bed kit is hard to miss. Instead of having to saw boards to the right dimensions yourself, a kit only has to be purchased and, depending on the type, screwed or plugged together and set up. But the fact that the dimensions are already given could turn out to be negative, especially for allotment garden owners. Likewise, there are often limits to the individual height design. Depending on the visual requirements, such a kit can be a lot more expensive than inexpensive wood or pallets. Ultimately, the decision will probably be based on the manual leisure and the time you can spend on the construction of your bed.

Raised beds made of stone, plastic or metal

Raised beds made of stone, plastic or metal have the unbeatable advantage that they are far more weather-resistant than wood-based raised beds. Plastic raised beds are still relatively cheap to buy, with metal versions or stones there are big price differences depending on your preference. With raised beds made of stone there are basically two options: the stone bed bricked with mortar and the dry stone bed. The former of course scores with stability, dry construction serves as a retreat for many different microorganisms and thus provides indescribable services for nature and species protection in the garden. As beneficial insects, the little animals that seek shelter then also benefit the gardener.

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