Installing Raised Beds

Are you ready to begin a garden but need a little help setting up your garden? We find that raised beds are the easiest to install and if filled with good, clean gardening soil, it will be productive AND there won’t be any weeds in it!

christine garden2Depending on your available space, 4’x4′ or 4’x8′ beds are a great place to begin. They are also modular, allowing you to install just one or two in the beginning, but then you can add on later.

Here is what you will need:

Lumber – a variety of types of wood can be used:

  • Rustic logs from trees cut down on your prperty – these are often free and will feed the soil as they decompose over several years.
  • Cedar – This does not rot, but is also quite expensive
  • Treated lumber – Not recommended for organic production because of concerns about safety.
  • Untreated pine – this is what we recommend. It is inexpensive ($6/8′ board at a local sawmill) It will rot in 5 – 8 years, but the rotting wood feeds the soil and you can easily add another round of wood when the first set no longer looks good.
  • Other creative beds- look around for what is free and will create a bed with a depth of 6″ or more. Cinder blocks and rocks are also good ideas.


  • Treat yourself and fill your bed with clean, fertile soil. One of our favorite ‘recipes’ is equal parts Compost, Vermiculite/Perlite, and Sphagnum Peat Moss. A 4’x4′ raised bed that is 6″ deep will require 8 cubic feet of soil. If you make that bed 12″ deep you will need 16 cubic feet of soil. Each year plan to add more compost.

Weed Barrier

  • Grass and weeds will find their way up through 6″ of soil, so it is best to put down weed fabric or a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard to suppress the weeds.


  • Sunny location
  • Easily accessible – a few steps from the kitchen or by the door you use most frequently
  • Access to water
  • Away from wildlife

About Fat Moon

Elizabeth is farmer, weeder, and owner of Fat Moon Farm in Westford, MA. Fat Moon sells locally grown vegetables and meat and hosts events that promote healthy lifestyles. Her favorite place is in the field at the farm and second favorite place is on a bike. Follow on Twitter @FatMoonFarmer
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