planting seedlings inside raised garden bed

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My vegetable seedlings popped up quickly this spring, which meant I needed a garden bed — FAST! Check out how I made this cheap & easy L-shaped raised garden bed out of cedar fence pickets. In just a few hours, I had a vegetable garden ready for growing!

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Got a new backyard update for ya today: my L-shaped raised garden bed, completed and growing strong with veggies! Since I’ve been putting some effort into doing more video this year, I have a both video tutorial and a post about it, so you can pick your poison.

DIY L-Shaped Vegetable Garden Bed

I say “new” because they’re new as of 2018, but in truth, they’ve been in the yard for about two months now. I’ve been scrambling with the deck build and getting the shed underway, but I think it’s probably best to share the garden build before the new veggies — which are starting to grow in, so I need to get a move on with this post!

titebond iii exterior wood glue

If you recall from my seedling post, I was in a rush to build some new garden beds in the back yard. I was crazy-surprised how quickly the seeds popped up and were ready to be transplanted. Luckily, I’ve already been through this whole garden bed build experience thanks to the gardenia garden beds I built along the fence a few years ago. My experience from those gave me a few things to keep in mind:

  • More 2×4 posts (I used mostly scraps last time, and the 2x4s simply needed a few more to make for better reinforcement spacing along the bed)
  • All cedar this time
  • Maximize the amount of beds I could build with as little wood as possible (budget-conscious build as always!)
  • Use wood glue as well (I didn’t last time, but some outdoor wood glue seemed like another way to keep it solid for as long as possible)

Like last time, I bought dog-eared fence pickets, but went with cedar for a way to change it up. Cedar has natural oils in it that resist rot, so they’re great for an application like this. I also picked up cedar 2x4s and cut all the pieces down.

me building raised garden beds

Wood:

Cost:

  • ($3 per picket x 14) + ($10 per 8ft 2×4 x 4) = $82
  • Most other materials already owned

Cuts:

  • Cut off the dog-eared parts of each fence picket and line them up to make sure they are the same length (my preferred method that avoids measuring: stack them and tape them together with painter’s tape, then cut them together in a batch)
  • Cut 2x4s to 18-inch lengths (roughly 5 per 8-ft board)**
  • Each rectangular bed needs 4 full-length cedar picket boards, then 2 more cut in half to create the sides

** You can make these longer if you have to concern yourself with frost or whatever (in Georgia that’s not really a thing I think much about), but I know my friend Kit from DIY Diva cuts hers to 19 inches and lives in freezing cold Michigan, if that helps!

Supplies:

Note: If you don’t wish to buy materials yourself and prefer a kit, this one is similar (but obviously, you’ll spend a little more for the convenience of having it ready-to-assemble… I still think it’s pretty affordable for the garden space it creates.)

Be sure to pre-drill the boards; they risk splitting if you try to screw into them without!

raised cedar garden bed for vegetable gardening

I screwed the sides in panels and eyeballed the spacing of the supports along each longer side (see above for a visual example). Since I was installing on unlevel ground, I used some of the not-yet-installed pieces to create a more level surface for stacking.

me building raised garden bed-2

For the corner bed, I didn’t actually build an entire other bed; instead, I used 2 boards, cut each in half, created the corner, and screwed it to the other two beds to form an L.

Once it was all flipped over, it was ready for digging.

raised garden beds before digging into the ground - pub shed foundation in background

A.

LOT.

OF.

DIGGING.

cedar raised garden beds before digging into the ground

Georgia red clay is no joke. But after wrestling with the shovel for a good while, the bed finally succumbed and sunk into the ground. Then, I added some landscaping fabric to help block weeds from the bottom (a MUST if you have a weed-prone yard like mine).

raised garden beds with landscaping fabric lining bottom

Then, I began layering in organic material, similar to how I layered in the raised garden beds for my gardenias. This “lasagna” method helps to get a good layer of weed-blocking matter toward the bottom, and then compost on top. K and I have been putting in a lot of effort to save our veggies as we cook and put them in a compost pile (which, coughcough, I need to build into a more practical compost setup so it’s more contained, but it’s not really a priority right now).

Lesson learned: you need a LOT of compost, even for tiny gardens!

layering raised garden beds with leaves and fresh compost

After a trip to the supplier for more composted soil, the beds were ready for the seedlings.

garden bed soil with green rake

Watch the video:

Hey, that’s me! I know it’s kinda narcissistic, but I really like that having K around has meant more photos of me actually doing things here on the blog. Bothering with tripods and timers is a pain in the ass to remember… so for many years, I’ve mostly done without being present in my tutorials. But, I also think that makes things a little more impersonal. “No more disembodied hand tutorials” is a new goal. ?

planting seedlings inside raised garden bed

At least, not just hands … ?

closeup of hands digging into garden soil

(Quick reminder, there’s a separate tutorial about these seedlings if you want info on those. I used this growing kit and bought individual seed packets to grow them.)

digging in small rows to plant tomatoes in the raised garden bed

But anyway, isn’t she pretty? The garden is such a fun new thing to have! I’ll be posting the first few veggies as soon as they are ripe enough to try. This one side has mostly tomatoes, and I planted marigolds because I read they are a natural companion plant that helps repel garden pests (I do think I should add more though)…

seedlings planted in a raised garden bed

And the other has mostly peppers…

seedlings planted in a raised garden bed 2

There are also onions and carrots that have just recently started popping up, so there will be lots of new pics for the next garden update.

I wound up building another, skinnier bed for cucumbers with a trellis… which was a little tougher since the landscape in that spot still has roots from the tree removal. If anyone is struggling with that and would like a separate tutorial with some tips on getting a garden bed to work (somewhat) level on an uneven landscape, please let me know!

new vegetable garden bed area in back yard

Spoilers!

spoilers river song gif

Ready for some sneak peeks of things? As I mentioned, this new garden has been in place for a couple of months now, and nearly everything around the bed has been changing. So, that means from just about every photographic angle, there are some crazy updates going on right next to this that I haven’t shared fully yet.

Purple hydrangea

There are a ton of things coming this month, and it’s full-steam ahead with lots of building (which is how we’ve gotten into this pattern of no updates, then a giant swarm of them, and then another quiet period while I continue building… I think a nap is in my future). The new deck is now done, so I have at a minimum of two more posts coming for that. The pub shed, as you can see, is underway, and we’ve been grilling out every night for the last week. It’s a lot. A lot of a lot.

New garden bed area with cucumber trellis - shed frame in the background

new grill and hydrangeas on patio

At the end, I’m hoping to also give you guys an update on the travel trailer (it has a name, I’m trying to come up with a pretty piece of art for its new name, and we should be starting on the restoration — coughcough gut job — very soon!).

My vegetable garden also has a small little deck thanks to some extra decking materials left over. It’s been great during these crazy rain storms this spring. I’ll have a separate tutorial for you on that (should be by next Thursday)!

Small new garden deck - l-shaped raised garden bed

Anyway, that’s what’s going on around here in a nutshell. What have you been building/growing/DIYing lately?

Pin for later:

diy l shaped raised garden bed

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14 Comments

    1. Haha yes! I am looking forward to taking a break and enjoying all the new builds soon (I hope next month, if all goes as planned).

  1. For the last month or so, I’ve read EVERY single post since 2011. I just bought a 1961 MCMish house that needs updating and plan to do as much of it ourselves as possible. Which is how I got to your blog- looking at the detailed DIY posts thru Pinterest. It’s been crazy to watch (read) how this blog has transformed from updates for friends/family to a business/brand. When you buy a home everyone tells you just to do things a little at a time & it will come together and your blog is proof of that! I do miss the reno project heavy first years of the blog but as a home owner – I bet you don’t. Thanks for all the hard work & step by step guides – it’s appreciated!

    1. Wow, that’s some reading dedication! Yeah, the reno days aren’t as filled with grime and overwhelming grit. It feels like it took so LONG, where I was just barely getting by and had very little to show for my work. Now, I finally have a HOME. And that opens doors to take on so many different projects I never thought possible (like how my boyfriend K and are about to take on his family’s vintage trailer… as soon as the shed is done, that will be a brand new gritty reno job!). I am so glad you found the posts on my blog helpful, Cecylia! Reading a comment like yours has made my day.

  2. This is such a cute article. My family and I have very limited space for our garden and have basically just let the cucumber vines spread onto the porch as they see fit. You have a picture with a…what looks like a home-made… trellis that will work wonders. I am inspired to make this L-shaped raised garden where we currently have a patio. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Love the post and it is inspiring! Can you add a brief blurb about how you added the trellis to your narrower cucumber bed? Is it just screwed into the top? Is that secure enough or will the plants pull it down?

    Thanks! Can’t wait to do these myself once we move into our own home.

    1. It was screwed to the top of the 2×4 posts, yes! It was storebought, but we eventually took it out because it didn’t stand up to the elements and are planning to add another of our own creation.

  4. Ok chick, it’s technically my first year of real gardening (dabbled with cukes 2 years ago once basically doing it ALL wrong but just watching them grow was enough amazement and splendor to pique my interest even more and with the help of Covid-19, it’s now become my obsession.) Gardening is…not Covid?
    I’ve done so much research and pinning yada yada. Your l-shaped garden bed happened to be one of the few I’d pinned that looked really nice but not too hard or impossible a task for myself and my oldest of 4…my 13 yo daughter Aleigha. I went yesterday to Lowe’s with my youngest. (Home Depot had no cedar pickets in stock n they were cheaper at Lowe’s anyway). As crazy as it sounds, Lowe’s had FOURTEEN completely undamaged cedar pickets. About 10 more but they were already split or broken. Picked up the other 2×4’s, some wood glue for exterior and wood screws. I went to bed early and set my alarm bc I was dead set on getting started early. We shall see if I manage to mess this up but I’m super excited and wanted to thank you for the post about what seems to be an easy job for such a nice looking garden bed! I copied everything, pasted it to my notes, then deleted all the unnecessary ads and I’m ready to print out your instructions to get started!

    1. (This is a little bit of a joke:) the ads pay for me to share free content, so IMO not quite “unnecessary” ? (at least as far as being able to share them, though yes definitely not needed to keep in your notes!). Good luck on building your beds! One suggestion I have after having them a few years: double up on the landscaping fabric and even bring it up to the soil edge on the sides to help keep them going longer. I get a lot of humidity here, so wood rot is inevitable with untreated/unsealed wood, but this is a great starter garden!

      1. Oh gosh haha! I just realized how ugly and “unnecessary” my comment may have seemed, ?
        I’m so sorry, idk why I even threw that part in bc I just HAD to print out your post in fear of messing something up and the ink for my printer is outrageous so I was meaning “unnecessary to print out straight from your page”, lol.
        Thanks again SO MUCH! It was a success and I enjoyed it so much I later on added (1 picket’s worth) level in the corner bed to make it a “tiered” L-shaped bed. THEN I built another making it a little higher than the first. I LOVED doing it and I love the beds! It was only possible bc of your blog! ?

        1. Oh don’t worry about it, I get a chuckle out of comments all the time! I was teasing. :) I hope you love those beds and they give you years of happiness!