How to build a garden bed

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How to build a garden bed

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Project Overview

A garden bed lets you grow the flowers, trees, fruit, vegetables and herbs of your choice in your own backyard in the best soil possible. This guide shows you the tools and equipment you need to build one yourself. It also gives you tips about how to keep your sleepers square, the best way to remove concrete footings and the easiest way to dig trenches for your wooden sleepers.

Continue to step-by-step instructions

Step by Step Instructions

1 Set out the garden bed
2 Cut the end sleepers
3 Join the sleepers together
4 Plan the look of the garden
5 Measure and cut the sleepers
6 Lay sleepers down the sides of the garden bed
7 Remove the sleepers
8 Remove the grass
9 Remove the concrete
10 Screw the ends of the garden bed together
11 Put the sleepers in place
12 Secure the sleepers with stakes
  • Step 1. Set out the garden bed

    Lay the longest sleepers out on the grass where you want to build your garden bed. If you have them, use the concrete footings as a guide to keep the sleepers straight. Measure the distance between the two sleepers at each end to make sure they’re square.

  • Step 2. Cut the end sleepers

    Measure the distance between the two longest sleepers, this is the width of your garden bed. Put a wooden sleeper on the work horses. Take the width measurement and mark out this distance on the sleeper. Put on the safety glasses, dust mask and ear muffs. Use the circular saw to cut the sleeper to the right length. Repeat this step to cut the sleeper for the opposite end of the garden bed.

  • Step 3. Join the sleepers together

    Put the two side sleepers and the end sleeper together so they make a U-shape. Use the cordless drill to make a pilot hole near the end of one of the side sleepers. Then drill in a temporary screw. Repeat this process to join the other sleepers together. Use the roofing square to make sure the corners are square.
  • Step 4. Plan the look of the garden

    If there are two trees or plants that you want to keep in the garden bed, that are at either end of the bed, measure the distance from one tree or plant to the edge of the sleeper. Go to the other end of the bed and measure the same distance from the tree or plant and mark this spot on the grass with marking paint. This will give your garden bed a balanced and even look.

  • Step 5. Measure and cut the sleepers

    Use the tape measure to work out the length of the garden bed and halve this figure, which will be the length you want to cut the sleepers for the sides of your garden bed.  Mark the length out on your sleepers and cut them to length. You want to cut the sleepers to the same length so that they join in the middle of the garden bed. 

  • Step 6. Lay sleepers down the sides of the garden bed

    Remove the temporary screw you drilled to make the U-shape at one end of the garden bed. Lay two sleepers down one side. Drill a temporary screw to join the sleeper at the other end, so it makes a corner. Use the roofing square to make sure that the corner is square. Once it is square, lay the two other sleepers on the opposite side. Check that all four corners, where the sleepers join, are square. Use marking paint to mark the corners on the outside of the sleepers, which will tell you where to dig a trench for the sleepers.

  • Step 7. Remove the sleepers

    Once the corners are square, remove the sleepers. A good tip is that as you take the sleepers away, remember where each of them was, so that when you start to rebuild the garden bed each piece goes in the right place.

  • Step 8. Remove the grass

    Use a mattock to remove the grass and dig down to the required depth. The sleepers will be sunk, so that 50mm is above the ground. This will make sure that the grass won’t grow back into the garden bed. Make the trench deep enough so that you can also lever up the concrete slab.

  • Step 9. Remove the concrete

    Use a crowbar to lever up and loosen the concrete on all sides. Use a sledge hammer or lump hammer to break the concrete into smaller pieces. After the concrete is broken, use the crowbar to also lever up the broken pieces. Put these in a wheelbarrow to take them away. Use the mattock to dig out the rest of the grass and dig a trench for the sleepers to sit in, so that 50mm of the sleeper sits above the ground.

  • Step 10. Screw the ends of the garden bed together

    Once the trench is the right depth, start putting the ends of the garden bed together. Use batten screws to join a sleeper on the side of the garden bed to the end. Use two screws, one at the top and bottom of each joint. Repeat this process for the other end of the garden bed. Once you have joined both ends together, have someone help you lift them into place.

  • Step 11. Put the sleepers in place

    Put the four side sleepers in place. Run a string line from one end of the garden bed to the other, to make sure the sleepers are straight. To do this, drill in a screw at both ends of the garden bed and tie your string line to this. Adjust the sleepers so that they are straight and at the right height. Repeat this process for the sleepers on the other side.

  • Step 12. Secure the sleepers with stakes

    Once the sleepers are straight and at the right height. Hammer in a stake to join them at the centre. Drill four galvanised screws into the stakes to join the sleepers together. Repeat this process where the sleepers join on the other side. Depending on the size of your garden bed, you may need to hammer and drill in more stakes to keep the garden bed secure. Backfill the soil, so that it sits evenly in your garden bed. Now your garden bed is complete, add the necessary compost and fertiliser to help your plants grow.

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