Building Beds for Dreams

Jumping on the energy and creative juices we had with the tomato towers we decided to continue expanding our growing space. We knew that there was a lot of work that we wanted to get done in the yard this year and didn’t want to miss out on some good veggies from the garden.

We decided to focus on areas that we knew we wouldn’t be working on. The flat area at the back is somewhere we can’t build any structures (sheds, etc) as there is a storm drain pipe that goes through the length of the yard. This seemed like a good place to put a few beds as they were allowed. Last year that area got over-run with weeds that needed the chainsaw to chop down. To be fair, we just let them grow as that was ellie’s “business” area and it conveniently hid both the piles and the smell. This year we didn’t want to spend hours at the end of the season trying to get the weeds out. So we made a plan.

The weeds were a 1/4 of the way up the fence in early spring 2015. By the end of the summer they were as tall as the fence. 

We had found some great raised bed ideas on Pinterest. Luckily we found one that we both liked much more than the 50 other raised bed suggestions I had looked at. I love pinterest, but I usually end up wanting to build it all! This bed stuck out as we both loved the look of it and it fit really well with what we wanted the rest of the yard to look like. Plus it looked really quite easy to bang together.

Beds on Pinterest
The pinterest post that was the basis for our raised beds.

I am very much a visual piece it together person. I can look at something and generally figure out how to build it. Especially if I can see all the components. K prefers full plans and has a harder time imagining how things will fit together. It works out for us though because when we do have plans, I get impatient and just start throwing it together, which isn’t always the smartest thing. K usually gets me sorted out with the actual plans when I go off the rails. And likewise, if he finds something that he really likes but can’t find plans for, he knows that I will be able to figure it out.

This one was a no-plans, have it figure it out situation. Based on the photo it definitely did not look like it would be challenging and was actually quite a simple design. So I threw together a quick drawing with some measurements so that I could figure out what we needed to get from the hardware store.

We planned on building them 3′ x 6′ and about 1′ high. So we grabbed 18 of the 1x6x6. Technically we only needed 16, but I always like to get a couple extra in case I rush something and mess it up. I definitely pretend to be the measure twice, cut once kind of person, but sometimes I skip the second measurement and end up with some odd sized pieces that just don’t fit together. The other issue I have, because I am visual, I often do not draw the plans in any sort of rough sketch, but rather just use the plan in my head. That works fine if I am working on something by myself, but if K is helping, I can’t exactly show him what I mean if it is all in my head.

Either way, we knew we would be building more things for the yard so having some extra wood was no problem. The wood we bought came to about $100 as we were getting some with a nice sanded finish, rather than the rougher finish. For the bracing on the corners, we already had some 2×6 pieces at home that we could use. Once we got home we made the measurements:

  • 4 of the boards cut in half to make 8 – 3′ pieces for the sides
  • 2 of the boards were cut in half to make 4 – 3′ cap pieces
  • 8 of the boards were left at the 6′ lengths for the walls of the bed
  • 2 additional boards were left at the 6′ lengths for the front cap pieces
  • 16 pieces of the 2×6 cut at 1′ lengths

We made sure we had 2 1/2 inch screws for the corner braces and 1 1/2 screws for the top caps. We also made sure we pre-drilled all of the holes as we didn’t want any cracks.

The beds went together easily. We started by connecting the front 6′ boards to 2 of the side 3′ boards using the 2x6x1 pieces. We then attached the back 6′ boards, and then finished off the last side. We did not attach the top caps yet as we wanted to place them down at the bottom first, then add it in. We unfortunately did not get photos of this process as we weren’t thinking of making a blog at that point. We are much more diligent at taking photos of the process now!

We took them down to the bottom of the yard and placed them where we expected them to live to make sure we were happy with the placement. Once we decided that we had them just right, we added the caps to provide a nice frame around the bed. At the time we did it for the look, but the convenient functionality of having a place to put a shovel or tool down is a major bonus!

Our next step was to place some landscaping fabric down to help avoid the large weeds from poking through our beds. As you can see in the photo the weeds were already establishing themselves nicely. Once we had the landscaping fabric in place we threw some cedar stain on them and let them sit to dry.

Filling those beds was another day of back-breaking hauling. K was smart when we purchased a wheelbarrow and went with the wagon style versus the traditional push wheelbarrow. I don’t think that a push wheelbarrow would be possible to use in our yard because of the slope. As it is, it takes the two of us to carefully bring a fully loaded wagon down to the base of our yard. I am sure one of us could, but I am pretty sure we wouldn’t be walking straight for a few days and there is a much higher risk of a runaway wagon, which no one needs in their life. It would most likely gain enough momentum to do some serious damage to whatever it ended up smashing into.

Once the beds were filled, we decided that a nice frame with netting and some peas would block off our ugly fence at the back and our neighbours make-shift hockey boards. They are that high because he has a terrible slap-shot and regularly hit pucks into our yard, including managing to hit our house which broke some siding that we had to replace. We had asked him to make a better and higher backboard to change it so that his shots weren’t facing our yard. Voila, he made a nice backstop and the pucks no longer come a flying, but we have the ugliness of it to look at now. I digress, and we have some future solutions to hide that, but in the meantime, we decided on peas this year.

So we got some of our leftover 1x2x8 and built some nice frames. We then added some black netting that you can buy at any garden centre for very cheap and stapled it in place. We then used some 2″ screws to attach it to the back of the beds. We thought we might need to add additional bracing, but at this point, they seem to be holding strong! We gave them a quick coat of stain prior to attaching them to the beds.

It took us longer than we planned, but we eventually got some seed into the beds. Carrots, peas, turnips, beets, onions and lettuce.

We knew there was more building to come in the next few days and weeks, but for now we just sat back and enjoyed our handiwork.





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