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May 14, 2013

My $75 Backyard Garden | DIY Raised Bed Garden Box

Every year I proclaim that I want to have a garden.  In our old Fairway home, I tried a little herb and lettuce garden by our back steps with no luck.  Too much shade.  In Concord, I had revived enthusiasm when I ordered heirloom tomatoes from Verrill Farm that resulted in a little luck... 2 tomatoes from 6 plants.  Again, too much shade.  This year in our new house, we have a substantial backyard with a great sunny spot that will (hopefully) work great for a small garden.

Growing up we always had a fairly large garden, the kids were enthusiastic about planting, but less enthusiastic about watering and weeding.  The first couple of harvests from the green beans, onions and tomatoes were exciting, but that soon faded as the cucumbers seem to multiply and the squash would take over the entire garden.  So, while planning this garden project, I was cautious of planting too much... as I know my 31-year-old self is basically the same semi-lazy 11-year-old during the summer months while the pool is open.  However, Emma LOVES to be outside, so I think this mini-garden will be just enough to keep me busy while she chases Mr. Darcy around with tennis balls.

I've included photos of the project, but I'll tell you - it was silly simple.  It took me a total of 2 hours start to finish (with a trip to Home Depot for an extra load of topsoil...) and cost about $75.  I watched this "This Old House" (my absolute favorite show!) "Gaden" video online before I started, but simplified it a little.  Because my box is smaller (6x4 vs. 4x10) I didn't feel the need to brace it.  I might regret it later, but for now, my 2 hour project looks perfect for me! 

Supplies :

2 - 2x10x10's (cut into 2 - 4ft & 6ft pieces)
Outdoor Wood Screws (decking screws)
Electric Screwdriver
30 Bags of Topsoil
1 Bag of Mulch


10  Tomato Plants
1 Rosemary
2 Basil
3 Thyme
3 Chive
1 Oregano
1 Cilantro
1 Italian Parsley
Leaf Lettuce
Green Onions

The spot is shaded just in the morning, but has full sun from 10am - 6pm.  Hopefully, that will be enough... we'll see.

The wood frame is completed after joining all of the sides with 3 screws each.   The box measures 6ft x 4ft.

I feel almost silly typing the "instructions" - too easy.

Hauling 30 bags of topsoil = good morning workout

Planted!   The tomato plants line the back and the herbs are in the middle and front left.

I got the tomato plants from my cousin Bret's produce Farm, Fahrmeier Farms.  He recommended that I plant them very deep to create a strong root system.

My plants were already anxious for a good drink!  The right front side of the planter will have lettuces, radishes and green onions later this week.

Next step is to mulch and water.


I like the dark brown mulch the best - it will help to keep out the weeds, help keep moisture in... and help it look nice!

I staked the tomato plants with wooden 6 foot stakes.  I'll tie them to the stick with twine later.

Watering time!

I'll keep you posted on the progress and status of the garden... wish me luck.



  1. I have been debating on starting a raised bed but it seemed difficult and I wasn't sure where to start research on how to do it. But now that I have seen your post and how easy it is I am putting it on my project list for this weekend. Do you just use any old topsoil or is there a special variety to use that is better suited for vegetables? Can't wait to see your progress! Love your blog and the inspiration it provides.

  2. Looks good! Although a word of caution, 10 tomato plants will more than take over a box that size. With all of your other items, I would limit it to one maybe two tomato plants. Will enjoy watching the progress! -Tonya

  3. Container gardens are the best!! I've had two for a few years not and mine are 4x8 and I can only handle about 3 tomato plants and a few basil plants. In the other I have 6 peppers and a few strawberries. They get way too big too fast. I hope you have great luck. Love your blog by the way--your photos are great!!

    You can see my garden here:

  4. Fantastic! I have been wanting to do this for the longest time with cedar. Cedar is known to keep away pesty bugs! :)

  5. I noticed all your important points. Thanks!

    Hochbeet Selber Bauen


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