DIY Starter Raised Bed For Kids

comments (6) December 21st, 2012

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yourownvictorygarden Greg Holdsworth, contributor
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Always pre-drill your screw holes (Photo A)
The outside frame (Photo B)
The base/floor attached to the frame (Photo C)
The leg pieces attached to the frame (Photo D)
The leg pieces attached to the frame (additional view) (Photo E)
The raised bed, standing up (Photo F)
The bed with the 1 x 3 top edges attached to it (Photo G)
Close-up showing where to center the 1 x 4 strips over the 1 x 3 strips (Photo H) 
The finished bed, ready for soil! (Photo I)
Click To Enlarge Photo: Greg Holdsworth (All photos)

If you're a green thumb with kids, you're well aware of how great having them grow up with gardening is (no pun intended). They see how veggies grow and become something they can enjoy. While they can certainly assist you in your garden, another option to consider is to give them their very own area or bed.

This project will give them a 2' x 3' raised bed that's just the right height for them to work easily and efficiently. While it's not a large bed by adult standards, it's large (and deep) enough to plant a sampling of most veggies. Plus, it's movable. 

The list of things you'll need:

1. One 2" x 10" x 10' wood 'plank' 
2. One 1" x 3" x 8' wood strip board
3. Four 1" x 4" x 8' wood strip boards
4. Plywood board, 1" x 24" x 36"
5. 1 1/2" Wood deck screws, (you'll need at least 40-50. Buying them by the box is cheaper)
6. 3" Wood deck screws, (you'll need at least 15-20)
7. Electric drill & drill bits (bit size to match screws)
8. Saw (electric circular saw recommended)
9. Tape measure
10. Square
11. Pencil or permanent marker
12. Sandpaper and/or sanding block
13. Paint or stain (optional)

Skill Level:

Easy to intermediate, depending on your wood-working/cutting skills.


1. First, determine how wide and long you wish to make the raised bed. For this project I wanted to go with a bed that was approximately two feet by three feet. That way I could use a standard size piece of plywood for the base, or floor of the bed. I ended up cutting the board's length to 32".

2. With the base width and length determined, I then cut the 2" x 10" x 10' wood plank into two 32-inch length side pieces, and two width side pieces that were about 22 1/2". 

3. Pre-drill and 'pre-start' the 3" screws on each end of the two length pieces (Photo A). Screw the four sides together to form the outside frame (Photo B).

4. Attach the frame to the plywood base using the 1 1/2" screws (Photo C).

You'll now need to decide how tall you want the raised bed to be. Your child's height will determine this. I went with a 20" height.

5. From the 1" x 4" x 8' strip boards, cut eight equal pieces. These are the legs.

6. Using the 1 1/2" screws, attach the leg pieces to the bed frame, aligning the top edge of the leg pieces with the top edge of the frame (Photos D & E). The two pieces at each corner meet to form a stable raised bed frame (Photo F). 

7. Using the 1" x 3" x 8' strip board, cut two length side pieces, and two width side pieces. They will be about 32" and 22 1/2", respectively, but measure the exact length and width of the bed to confirm.

8. Screw these pieces to the top edge of the frame (Photo G).

9. Using the 1" x 4" x 8' strip board, cut two length side pieces, and two width side pieces. Here's the tricky part. You'll want to center the 4" wide boards over the 3" wide boards (Photo H). This creates a "ledge" around the bed that overlaps the inside sides of the frame.

10. You're basically done at this point! (Photo I) Sand any edges and rough areas of the wood with your sandpaper or sanding block. 

Note: I did not drill any holes in the bottom board to allow for drainage, pipes, etc. This would need to be done prior to putting in the soil or growing medium. Another option would be to attach a pipe to collect the excess water and direct it away from your deck, patio, etc.

If you desire, you can apply a stain or paint finish of your choice, or simply leave it as is.

Your "future green thumb" (or thumbs) now has a raised bed all their own!


After you try it, show it off to other members in the
gardener's gallery.
Post your photos

posted in: raised bed, kids, children, wood

Comments (6)

Nomad54 writes: I'm putting in some new raised garden beds, so I just did some research. Most of the concerns about PT lumber was for CCA (chromated copper arsenate), which contains arsenic, but that has not been available for purchase in the US since 2004.

The following paragraph is from the University of Missuori:

ACQ (akaline copper quaternary) is an alternative preservative choice for pressure-treated lumber. Unlike CCA, it does not contain arsenic or chromium. It does, however, contain copper, which can leach into the soil from treated lumber. Although copper is an essential element for both plants and animals, excessive amounts can be harmful. A 2007 study of the safety of ACQ published in Human and Ecological Risk Assessment concluded that exposure to copper from contact with ACQ-treated wood is not expected to have adverse effects on the health of adults or children.
--- End University of Missouri ---

I don't think the Home Depot lawyers would let them recommend pressure treated lumber for raised garden beds:

If you can afford it, use cedar, some other rot resistant wood, or plastic planks. If you're still nervous about ACQ PT lumber, line it with plastic or research using some non-toxic paint on the inside. Remember to use corrosion resistant screws such as stainless steel, hot-dipped galvanized screws, or some polymer coated screws. Cheap screws will corrode quickly due to the copper in the wood treatment.
Posted: 2:16 pm on August 11th
mccchip1 writes: Hey All,

I have been gardening out of raised beds for about 15 years and have been through several different designs. Rot is always an issue, moist dirt and wood do not mix well, especially with sheet goods like plywood. I have made one addition to my raised beds that seems to working very well so far. I cover the inside surface of the wood with of the bed EPDM pond liner, the type that used for Koi ponds and the like. They are rated as
• Fish, plant safe & wildlife safe
• Min 30 MIL with 25 Year Warranty
• Permanent elasticity from -49ºF to 266ºF
• Ozone and UV radiation resistance
• Excellent thermal and dimensional stability
You can find them easily on the internet and even on eBay.
Hope this helps anyone thinking about building a bed.
Posted: 10:37 am on February 4th
RCAKB writes: You do not want to use pressure treated wood if there will be food grown in there. The chemicals to make pressure treated wood is not safe to use for beds that are going to grow foods in.
Posted: 12:11 am on March 14th
wwross writes:
This is a great design. But it definitely needs to be done with pressure treated lumber, or else it rots away in a couple of years. Even, then, I would to the bottom with slats of 1x3s and lay down landscape fabric.
Posted: 1:49 pm on January 25th
woodsyguy81 writes: Pete, I was curious about the PT as well. You could probably put some landscape fabric between the soil and PT lumber to minimize contact and alleviate concerns. Another thing I was thinking about if I do this would be to add either small drainage holes or cut slats into the bottom with the landscape fabric to ensure no standing water and extend the life of the bed. Either way, this is a great project Greg and one I am definitely thinking about for my 2 1/2 year old daughter!
Posted: 11:34 am on January 2nd
Pete999 writes: Would it make sense to use PT lumber for the legs ? Or will the box rot out before that would matter ?
Posted: 10:39 am on January 2nd
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