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Raised Garden Bed Ideas for Your Spring Planting

Raised Garden Bed Ideas for Your Spring Planting


Raised garden beds are great for lots of reasons! Raised beds warm up earlier in the spring, making early planting easy. They can be filled with high quality soil instead of spending years improving the soil quality of your yard. Raised beds are also a great way to avoid soil erosion. And, there are plenty of raised garden bed ideas for every budget. Make spring planting easy this year by installing some raised beds into your garden!

DIY Raised Garden Bed Designs

DIY raised garden beds can be incredibly simple or elaborate! It’s completely up to you, your time constraints, and your budget. There are plenty of raised garden bed designs available on the market or in your imagination. All that bending over hurting your back? Make your raised garden beds taller so you don't have to bend over so far! Interested in the aesthetics of your garden? Consider building them with bricks (to match your homemade pizza oven) or using them to encircle your backyard fire pit. Not to mention, if you’re working with a limited sized garden, terraced raised garden beds can help you optimize your space. 

How to Make a Raised Garden Bed Yourself

DIY raised garden bed construction doesn’t have to be precise. The more intentionally built a raised garden bed is, the longer it will last, but for short term gardens (hello, renters) or budget gardens you’re looking to save up to improve, a little simple drilling and handiwork can do the trick! 

Choosing Materials for Your Raised Garden Bed

Wooden Beds

Wooden raised garden beds are the most common type we come across, especially in well-established raised bed gardens. They can be built with wood of various sizes (2x4’s are the easiest to find) but if you need it a little taller you can choose wider lumber such as 2x6” or 2x8”! You don’t want your raised beds to be less than eight inches tall. 

Cedar is the best (and often pricier) option for raised beds. It’s favored because it resists rot and insects well and will last for a long time. Pine tends to be cheaper and more accessible but its lifespan isn’t quite as long, just about five years compared to ten. Never use pressure-treated lumber for a raised bed, since it can leach harmful chemicals into your garden soil.

Steel Beds

Steel beds are a lifelong garden investment. They’re expensive but they last a lifetime (and theoretically can be moved around) and add value to a property! They come in different shapes, colors, and sizes and can be an elegant upgrade in the garden. They also retain heat well (especially if they’re black or another dark color) making winter or early spring gardening effective. 

Brick or Concrete Beds

Brick or concrete beds are a great middle ground if you’re looking for something that will last a really long time but is less expensive (and also a project for you and your friends or family to take on). You can collect or purchase bricks and concrete blocks to build a retaining wall to fill with soil and grow in that! These are less mobile than some other options (though I suppose if you were really committed you could move them) but less expensive and will last a lifetime! 

When you’re using recycled bricks there are a couple things to watch out for. Bricks could have been used with materials that may leach leave chemicals into the soil. Bricks used in fireplaces may be covered in creosote, which is a carcinogen, and should be avoided. Something to keep in mind about cement also is that it’s incredibly alkaline! Meaning it may leach lime into the soil. This is usually not a problem and happens very slowly but you may not want to use them with blueberries or other acid-loving plants. 

Fabric Beds and Grow Bags

Fabric is a great portable “alternative” to raised beds. You can get two-by-four-foot fabric “beds” that you can fill with soil and will allow water to drain through even though they have a bottom. When you’re ready to move them simply remove the soil and pick them up! If the two by four foot beds are too much you can get grow bags in various gallon sizes. These are super easy to move and reuse and can grow virtually any crop! (Tip: try growing potatoes in these bags - it makes hilling SUPER easy!)

Getting Creative with your Materials

And of course there are creative opportunities when it comes to raised garden beds. You can use pallets, old livestock watering troughs, used tires, and more to create the garden of your dreams! When using old pallets make sure they’re heat treated and not treated with any chemicals. These are easy to find (businesses are getting rid of them all the time) and ideally free. They can be broken apart and used to build beds. Old troughs can be found through community groups or maybe in your own backyard. Cut out or poke holes in the bottom for drainage and fill with soil to plant. The possibilities are endless! 


Step-by-Step Assembly of a Raised Garden Bed

The most classic raised bed, as we’ve said, is a wooden one, and it’s quite easy to build. These are basic instructions for the assembly of a raised garden bed. 

You will need: 

  • Eight 2x4’s cut to the length of your planting space. You’ll want four boards cut to the long dimension of your bed and four cut for the short dimension, so perhaps four 2x4’s cut to six feet and four cut to four. 
  • You’ll also want to cut four posts that are the same height as the bed to secure the corners of your bed.
  • A drill 
  • 3” deck screws

If there is grass in the area you are planting your bed and it has not been tarped to kill it back, consider laying landscape fabric or cardboard down underneath where your raised bed is going to be.

Align your four long pieces in a rectangle with the two shorter pieces connecting on the outside of the long pieces, as pictured.

Raised Garden Bed Construction Guidelines

Place your braces on the inside of the four corners and and drill screws on the inside of the beds to secure the braces to the walls and on the outside of the bed to secure the four pieces to each other.

How to Fill a Raised Garden Bed

When filling your raised garden bed with soil, you’ll want to consider your options carefully. Use raised bed mix or another high-quality, high-organic matter soil mix, not just “topsoil,” which contains little to no organic matter and nutrients and sometimes comes from dubious sources. Most likely you will not be able to replace your raised bed soil every year so you’ll need to care for it as if it was an in-ground garden bed. 

Best Soil Mixes for Raised Garden Beds

When choosing soil for your raised bed you should look for something that is a combination of topsoil and compost. Sand, grit, or vermiculite may also be included in the mix for drainage, however, keep in mind that raised beds tend to drain better than in-ground beds anyway. There are many raised bed mixes on the market (and you can always add your own extra compost if you’d like). 

Mixing your own soil? Follow this easy guide!

Filling A Raised Garden Bed Guidelines

How Much Soil Will I Need for My Raised Bed?

Getting bags of soil (typically one to two cubic feet) is great for smaller projects or if you’re just looking to fill in a little space. Your raised beds may be small enough that bags of soil stay economical. But if not, you may look into getting larger quantities of soil delivered by a nursery or hardware store. But how do you know how much you need?

Raised Garden Bed Soil Guidelines

This is the super easy equation for sorting out exactly how much soil to get! From here you can calculate how many bags you might need or if it might be more economical to buy in bulk. 

Layering Soil for Optimal Plant Growth

Within the idea of longevity of your garden soil, there are some steps you can take in the beginning, that could save you some time down the road. 

Beds that are over six to twelve inches tall can be partially filled with a layer of straw, leaf mulch, grass clippings, cardboard, or some mixture of them! This mixture will slowly decompose over time adding nutrients to your soil as it does. 

Beds that are shorter than this can be completely filled with soil. This will allow you to plant the first year, as the soil will be deep enough without the roots of your plants needing to work their way through cardboard. For shorter beds (and taller ones year after year), organic matter like leaf mulch, straw, or grass clippings can be mixed into the top few inches of soil. For extra points, plant a fall cover crop on top of this at the end of the growing season to really keep that soil happy. 

Taking care of your soil and layering with organic matter will ensure that you’re always re-upping the nutrients in your soil making sure it’s abundant and fruitful for years to come.

What to Plant in Your Raised Garden Bed

Planting in a raised garden bed is virtually the same as planting in an in-ground garden bed. Some things to consider when selecting crops are the depth of the bed and the size. For example, if your raised garden bed is only six inches tall you may avoid planting crops with super deep tap roots such as large carrots or burdock. If your bed is only two feet by two feet, you could only really fit one brussels sprout plant, however you could fit plenty of bush beans! 

The Best Vegetables for Your Raised Garden Bed

The best vegetables for a raised bed are limited only by your imagination. 


Bush beans and pole beans alike will grow gloriously in your raised garden bed! Your pole beans will still need trellising but the vines and bright pods will make for a gorgeous raised garden bed. Consider growing your pole beans on an arch trellis so you can extend the season for your shade loving greens! 


Underneath that trellis we talked about, you can grow a wide variety of greens including lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, and more. Not to mention how much easier harvesting will be when you don’t have to bend over so much! 

Heading Brassicas 

The space heading brassicas take up is the only limit to what you can plant in your raised garden beds. Crops like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts grow great in a raised garden bed, just make sure they get the space they need to stretch out.

Root Crops

As mentioned earlier, the limit to growing root crops is simply the depth of the bed. But if your raised garden bed is eight inches or taller, there is again, no limit! The increased drainage of raised garden beds will help root crops like beets, carrots, parsnips, radishes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic and even onions from rotting or getting bogged down by too much water in the soil. 

Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplants 

Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants will do great in raised beds. These plants need plenty of water though so with the extra-quick drainage, just keep in mind to quench these guys’ thirst!

Squash, Melons, and Cucumbers

Squash, melons, and cucumbers are perfect for raised beds, especially if you have a vole problem and put a pest-repellent layer between the bed and the ground. With a trellis or without, these cucurbits love the well-draining soil of a raised bed.

Herbs and Flowers to Enhance Your Raised Bed

Just like vegetables, there’s an infinite list of herbs and flowers you can grow in a raised garden bed. Many herbs and flowers are used in a technique called companion planting and these principles can be applied to raised beds as well! Try combining these herbs and flowers in your crop plan, fitting them in between your vegetable crops in your raised bed


Basil is a well-known companion to many plants. It’s been known to improve the flavor of tomatoes and pepper when intercropped with them, not to mention the height of these plants offer some shade to the basil, ensuring it doesn’t overheat and burn. 


The strong smell of nasturtium attracts aphids meaning they’ll come and breed on your nasturtiums while leaving the rest of your crops alone! Great when intercropped with brassicas, greens, and more.


Marigolds are well-known to not only deter pests with their strong smell but also decrease the population of root-knot nematodes over time, particularly when you use a nematicidal variety.


Oregano repels cabbage moths when intercropped with brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, and others. Its strong smell can also deter other pests from the crops it is near. 


Chamomile is known to be a great companion to onions, as it is said to improve growth and flavor. 


Cilantro is great when planted near potatoes as it can protect against pesky Colorado Potato Beetles.


Calendula is also said to have root-knot nematode deterrent properties and can be helpful near winter squash and tomatoes. 


Borage is said to deter the tomato hornworm, so plant this lovely edible flower nearby your tomato crop! 

Getting Started With Raised Garden Beds

Raised bed garden can look many different ways. But regardless of your space, budget, or time, there is an option for you (and often multiple)! Try your hand at growing a raised bed garden this year and check out Sow True Seed’s wide range of heirloom vegetable varieties, perfect for your raised bed.



Article Written by: Hannah Gibbons

About the Author: Hannah Gibbons, an employee at Sow True Seed since 2020, has nearly a decade of experience in the agricultural industry. Their passion for environmental education and regenerative agriculture has been the cornerstone of their work, aimed at making gardening accessible to all.