Raised Bed Gardening Hack

Hey Everyone! Today we want to share with you how we built the majority of the raised beds in our South Garden back in 2021. This is a great way to build a raised garden bed with absolutely NO TOOLS! And it’s more affordable than most of the pre-built beds you can buy.

I recently recorded a video to show our beds as they are now in 2023. But it is currently August in Oklahoma and we have been in the triple digits for the past several weeks. AND we have had a highly unusual amount of rain this year. Needless to say, my garden is a MESS right now.

I hope you can look past the mess in the video so you can see what these beds look like after 2 years. They are still holding up great!

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Great little Garden Hack

wall blockAs I mentioned in the video, the key to these beds are these concrete blocks I found at Lowe’s. The price you see is the price as it is now in 2023. They were much cheaper in 2021 since that was before the cost of EVERYTHING went up. I believe I paid $1.98 a block when I built my beds.

In the video you’ll see that I broke down the cost for just One 8’x3′ bed. But the great thing about these blocks is that once you have a set, you can keep adding to it without needing as many blocks.

Looking Back to 2021

Before I get in to how to build the beds, I want to share the below photos from 2021. I built these beds over a 6 month time-frame. I just bought a few pieces of wood and blocks at a time until I had finished the beds.

raised garden bed

As mentioned, I built my beds with a 4 ft width. But I didn’t account for the extra 6 or so inches that would be added to each side, as I slid the wood in to the concrete blocks. I think my beds are well over 4.5′ wide which is far too wide to reach the middle without getting inside the bed.

I strongly suggest going with 3′ wide, for two reasons:

  • First, 3′ wide will allow you to reach to the center of the bed comfortably and easily without having to run back and forth.
  • Additionally, you will actually save money by purchasing a 12 foot board and having it cut in 3 foot sections. When you do this, you will have 4 sections. If you look back at my photos above, you can see that I used exactly 4 boards to create 3 separate beds.

Assembling Your Raised Beds

Now let’s get on to assembling these beds. It couldn’t be more simple. You literally just set your blocks on the ground about where you want them to go. Obviously, I put weed barrier down first so that I wouldn’t have to deal with weeds. Once you have positioned your bottom blocks in the 4 corners, you can slide your wood in to one of the corner pieces. Then make sure you have it lined out straight in the direction you would like and then you can move the other block in to position. After you get those first 2 in place, it gets much easier. I do recommend getting all of the 4 bottom corners in place with all of the connecting wood pieces slid in to position, before you start adding the second block on each corner. Otherwise, you have to remove those top blocks, if you realize it’s not straight after you have stacked them all. So, you might as well not put them on until you’ve finished setting up all 4 corners.

Now, if you have sloped ground or want more security, they do have holes in the center of the blocks so that you can slide in a piece of rebar and attach it to the ground. I did not have a reason to do this myself, as you can see my ground is pretty flat in this area. It’s held up to some pretty massive flooding these past 2 years too!

Possible Variations

If you read the description for the blocks on the YouTube video, you will see they are 6 inches tall each. This is why you need 2 blocks, so you can make a 12 inch tall bed. Technically, you COULD do just one block and use a 2×6 instead of 2×12. However, that’s not going to give you much root depth for your plants. Unless, you are just doing the raised bed for ease of gardening and actually allowing the plants to grow in your native soil, then you could totally get away with the 6 inch height.

On the flip side, if you want a TALLER bed, these blocks say they can be stacked up to 2 foot tall, which would be 4 blocks. I can imagine if you did that with 2- 2×12’s stacked on top of one another, that would look super nice! Especially if you applied a nice stain to the outside and maybe even spray painted the blocks black. I’m certain that would look so sharp! In fact, I just might do that next spring.

How Much Does It Cost?

In the video I mentioned that if you built an 8×3 foot bed using 8 blocks for the corners, your total would come to $87.78 at today’s prices. You would also have 2 extra pieces of 2×12 that are 3 foot long each. You could use that extra wood to build another bed….

douglas fir 12'
douglas fir 16'

OR…the great thing about these blocks is that they are ready to take more wood from any of their sides. What this means is that you can double the amount of blocks and get 16 instead of 8. But since you can already tie in to the existing bed, you are actually able to build THREE total beds instead of just two

So if you just double your blocks, you get a whole EXTRA bed out of the equation. And all you have to do is purchase just 2 more of those 16 foot boards. When you have Lowe’s cut them in half for you, you’ll have both of your 8 foot sides for 2 more beds.

As for the 3 foot wide sections, you only need a total of 4 to build all 3 beds, since the middle bed is basically framed in by the other 2 beds. So you are able to triple your growing space for not much more money.

Here is the cost breakdown, based on costs at the time of this writing:

One Bed

8 blocks3.3827.04
1 – 2x12x1644.5244.52
1 – 2X12X12 (Only use half)33.2316.62

Three Beds

16 blocks3.3854.08
1 – 2x12x1644.52133.56
1 – 2X12X1233.2316.62
Of course you are going to need to fill these new beds with soil. Be sure to check out our article on making your own DIY Soil Mix to save you even more money!

How The South Garden Has Held Up

Now, if you’d like to see a very OLD video that we made way back in 2021, as we were building out the south garden, you can check this out. You will see how we started with a blank canvas and built the garden out over a 6-month period. Of course, it has taken on many changes over the past 2 years.

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Remember how I mentioned the epic flooding experienced in the south garden? I happened to stumble upon these old videos from May 2021. I truly thought my patio furniture might float away!

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