D.I.Y. Raised Garden Bed

muddy site for garden bed under construction

The saga of building a raised bed from metal in the pouring rain of an ‘east-coast low’.

Some time ago a friend replaced a metal fence when landscaping his backyard. I was happy to take some of the materials off his hands for a tailor-made raised bed.

Design Considerations

The site I wanted to use slopes in two directions so some digging in of the beds, of whatever construction, was going to be needed. To allow access all around, I calculated that I could have a bed 3.8m long and 0.8m wide. I wanted to try beds of about waist height (approx  800 mm), which is tricky using prefab beds.

preparing to cut metal fencing with angle grinder

I could have used the panels sideways and joined with timber posts but was concerned that they would bow under the pressure of soil and water. Although more complex, I decided to use the posts and rails available to make “fence panels” to form the beds. As the panels were 1800mm high I cut them in half using an angle grinder to give panels of 900mm.

Construction

1. The end panels

metal posts and fencing panels

Corner posts were made by cutting posts to length and joined at right angles.

The top and bottom rails were cut to length then the bottom rail was added and secured with screws to the corner posts. The panels were inserted and finally the top rail fitted and secured.

I repeated this process, and had two end panels completed (under cover).

2. Clearing the site

The site was cleared to get a “lay of the land”. The photos below show the land as it slopes towards the left and towards the photographer.

3. All the pieces on site

pieces of metal posts and metal panelling on muddy ground

This was made very difficult on a clay site, in bucketing rain. What made it worse was coming up against a rock shelf, not far below the surface at the higher end of the site. Fortunately, since I am building a deep bed, plant roots aren’t going to need to get through that sandstone!

All the pieces needed, sides, ends and posts were gathered together, to be assembled on the site.

4. Putting it all together

I began by adding one side to one end. First, the bottom rail was secured to the corner post, then to the first of the mid-posts along that side. Three panels were inserted between the mid-post and the corner, then the top rail added. The first two photos show the view from inside and outside the bed.

I then repeated this same process on the other side to complete one half of the long bed (i.e. 2.4 x 0.8m) – see photo (right) above.

5. To complete the bed

A second u-shaped post was added in the middle of each side to hold the other panels. The posts were pre-cut to size and attached 125mm higher than the existing height to allow for the change of level. The bed will be stepped up at this point, because of the rock at ground level at that end. A brace, 125mm wide, will be placed across the middle to strengthen the middle and stop the long sides from bowing out.

Everything is ready to complete the bed but the torrential rain, and the the sticky clay have brought the project to a standstill!
You’ll have to wait to see the completed project 🙂

to be continued …

See you next time!
Mark 🍅

Published by Lynne

I'm one half of the partnership that owns "Hillside Homegrown and Handmade". We teach people how to develop food security by growing some of their own, learn basic handy-person skills to complete their own DIY projects and to live in a manner which is more sustainable for themselves, their families and the earth.

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