How-to: galvanized garden beds

garden beds 3

When we first moved into our home twelve years ago, I created a large fenced area for our veggie garden – 100′ x 50′ – and built raised beds out of 12″ boards and 4″x4″ corner posts for veggies and flowers.  Even pressure treated wood doesn’t last forever, though, and by this spring, the beds were all but falling apart.  On the spur of the moment, I decided to rebuild all of the beds before planting this spring.

The first step was to demo out all of the old beds – no small trick, since the dirt has to be shoveled out and set aside and the beds broken apart and disposed of.  I decided on a different layout for the new beds, so all of the irrigation had to be rerouted, as well.

I wanted to build more durable, larger raised beds, so that they wouldn’t rot out quickly and I wouldn’t have to bend over so far.  I decided to use pressure treated lumber for the frame and galvanized metal for the sides.  I built 12 beds 4’x8′ and 2′ tall.  For each bed, here are the supplies you’ll need:
* Six 8′ 2×4 boards (cut two of these boards in 4′ lengths, so you have four 4′ lengths and four 8′ lengths)
* Three sheets of 8’x2′ galvanized metal (these are available at Home Depot) (cut one sheet in half so you have two 8′ sheets and two 4′ sheets)
* One 12′ 4×4 post (cut into six two-foot pieces)
* One 12′ 2×4 board (or two 6′ 2×4 boards) (cut into eight pieces, each 16.5″ long)
* One 4’x8′ sheet of wire mesh
* Roofing screws
* Metal screws

Tools are, as I find for almost all projects, a key to making this project uncomplicated and professional-looking.  You’ll need a chop saw (or something similar) to make all of the wood cuts, a rotary saw that’s designed for cutting metal to cut the galvanized sheets (we had to buy one at Home Depot, the cost was a little over $100), and a good drill with the right attachments for screwing in the wood and metal screws.  Safety is also an important factor – you will definitely want safety glasses when using the saws, particularly the metal saw because it throws up little metal pieces, and we also used ear plugs when cutting the metal because of the screeching noise.  One note:  the Home Depot sign said that the metal sheets were 24″ wide, but when we got them home, they were at least 6″ wider (go figure), so we had to cut them lengthwise, as well as cut some of them in half.

Construction steps:

1.  Cut all of your materials to the dimensions listed above (see information on tools and safety).

2.  Create the frames for the two long sides – lay down three 4×4 posts, approx 45″ apart.  Place two of the 8′ 2x4s over the top and bottom of these posts.  Use a square to make sure that your corners are all square; use the drill to screw in two wood screws per corner, and two each at the top and bottom of the middle 4×4.  Repeat for the second long side.

3.  Lay one of the 8′ metal sheets on top of the completed long side frame – if you have a sharper cut edge (as we did, since we had to cut off some lengthwise), make sure that’s at what will be the bottom of your frame (it’s okay if this extends a little beyond the frame, because it will be in the ground). Line up the metal approx 1″ below what will be the top of the frame, so that the metal doesn’t come right up to the top of the wood (you don’t want any chance of cutting yourself on the sharp metal edge when you’re working in the veggie box).  Use the drill to screw in the metal screws (four on the top, equally spaced, and the same on the bottom).  Repeat for the second long side.

veggie beds 7
This is what each long side will look like after step #3 is completed.
veggie beds 8
The “inside” of the frame once step #3 is completed, showing the construction of the long side of the frame and the positioning of the galvanized metal piece

4.  Have someone hold the two long sides on their ends, parallel to each other and approx 4′ apart (just as they will be when the box is finished), making sure that the length you designated as “bottom” is on the ground for both sides.  Use the drill to attach the two 4′ 2x4s to the top and the bottom on each end of the frame (two screws in each corner).

veggie beds 9
This is what the beds will look like once step #4 is complete and the short sides have been framed

5.  Take four of your 16.5″ 2x4s and slide them into the gap between the metal and the end of the long frame on all four corners (this is necessary because otherwise there will be a gap here when the box is completed).  If you need to trim them down a little in order to get them to slide into place, go ahead and do so.  Use metal screws to attach the long ends of the metal to these “gap-fillers” (don’t worry that the gap-filler isn’t screwed to the wood frame, this won’t matter).

veggie beds 9
This is what it will look like when step #5 is completed – you can see how the gap-filler 2×4 has been slid in between the metal and the 4×4 post, and the metal has been screwed onto it

6.  Take the remaining four 16.5-inch 2x4s – line them up on the inside of the 4×4 posts on each end of the frame (so that they cover the gap-fillers you just screwed in).  Again, you may need to trim them down just a little bit in order to get them to fit between the top and bottom frame boards.  Attach these by using a wood screw to screw these pieces into the gap fillers (this will cover the gaps that would otherwise exist between the frame and the short metal sides).

veggie beds 10
This shows the positioning of the final two-foot 2×4 in step #6 – it’s immediately to the left of the 4×4 post, covering the gap-filler board and the edge of the metal sheet

5.  Slide the 4′ piece of galvanized metal on the inside of the box on the short end and push it into place (you may have to pound on it a little with your hand to get it to push in flush with the 2×4 frame – don’t worry, any dents can be pounded out afterwards).  Remember to line up the top end about 1″ lower than the top of the bed.  Screw in place with two metal screws on each side.

6.  We just laid the 4’x8′ wire mesh sheet in the bottom of each box, but if you want, you could attach it with staples (you’d need to flip the box over to do this, and the wire mesh sheet would have to be slightly larger than 4’x8′ so that there was some overlap onto the edges of the box).  You may not find this step necessary, but on our farm, as many pests (like voles) come up through the soil from underneath, as climb into the beds over the top!

garden beds 1
Here you can see the completed interior of the bed, with the irrigation valve stubbed up, and the wire mesh laid flat along the bottom

The great thing about these beds is that they’re tall enough so that you can garden in them without bending over much.  Also, their height keeps out some of the things that eat the crops (like rabbits), along we find that the mice and other rodents still climb right on up (sigh).  You’ll need 64 cubic feet of soil to fill each bed; make sure that you purchase soil that is specifically meant for filling garden beds (NOT compost alone, or just mulch, or potting soil).  Because we needed so much soil to fill all of our beds, we ordered it delivered from Valley Landscaping, a local company that had the perfect three-way blended topsoil (a mix of soil, compost, and sandy loam).

garden beds 2
Completed bed has been placed in the garden, leveled, and filled with soil

In addition to twelve 4’x8′ beds, we also built four 2’x8′ beds – they may look a little strange because they’re so narrow, but I set them approx six feet apart and then used 2x4s and 4’x8′ sheets of cattle fencing to build these trellises:

garden beds 4

I can’t wait to grow climbing beans, peas, and other veggies on these trellises this summer – by the time they’re entirely covered with vines, it will make a tunnel of greenery!

garden beds 5

The photo example I used as the inspiration for these boards had countersunk the 2×4 framing boards into the 4×4 posts – if you did that, you wouldn’t need the gap-filler boards in steps #5 and #6 (something we didn’t figure out until we got to those steps and had to think creatively to address the gaps we hadn’t anticipated!)  However, making the cuts for the countersinking would be complicated – in my mind, more difficult than using the gap-filler boards.  And, I don’t think that the extra framing does anything to detract from the box’s appearance.

My last step is going to be to using copper flashing to cover the tops of each of the 4×4 posts – this is both for appearance and practicality, as these exposed ends will rot out more quickly if they’re not protected.

If you’d like help building beds like these and you live in the Portland area, contact Casey Beatty with CMB Properties, LLC at (503) 310-0870.

garden beds 6
Several of the finished beds waiting for planting

ETA:  In the spring of 2015, we capped the beds with 8″ boards to improve the appearance, eliminate any risk of the beds bowing out, and give us a nice place to lean while planting, weeding, or harvesting (see pics here).

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155 comments on “How-to: galvanized garden beds

  1. wow these look great Andrea. Now when I come to pick your sweet cherry tomatoes or green beans or cukes, I won’t even have to bend down.

  2. I just want to thank you for the thoroughness and clarity of your instructions. I will repost this. Great job.

  3. Why did you make these so deep? What are you growing that you need 24″ deep beds?

    • onblueberryhill

      June 6, 2013 at 4:58 am Reply

      I doubt that I’ll need them so deep for the benefit of the plants, but the wonderful thing about how tall they are is that I can garden without hardly bending over at all. I’ve already found that working in the beds is so much more enjoyable, and kind to my body, then when I had to stoop and kneel so much!

      • You can also fill the bottom with organic waste and bulky compost like sticks, nut shells, and grass clippings mixed with stone and save a ton of money on dirt while also improving your drainage.

    • Jim,

      The 24″ bed is a nice height as you get older, no stooping over for picking, weeding and planting. That is even a nice seated height to park a chair next to the beds. I made lower square foot gardening beds and now that I’m fast approaching 50, I’m going to make the next ones taller which is why I was looking at these ideas. I have a degree in sustainable agriculture and one of the things that amazed me in my plant science and soil science classes was the true length of the root system of most vegetables. Even corn has a root system that extends 2-4 feet. Most of your root veggies are at least a foot. Also had good success with container potato gardening in a recycled plastic barrel with the bottom and top cut out. When it was time to harvest just knock the barrel over and the potatoes fall out the open bottom, do set barrel on wire mesh to keep gophers out.

    • Just my two cents on it – many plants will thrive with 2′ of space for roots.
      Soil can be expensive – my local supplier sells it for $22/cubic yard. One alternative is to compost in the bins the year before – leaves, scraps, etc.

      • Great idea!

        • I have a question. I made beds similar to these that I haven’t filled yet. Does the metal bow out with the weight of the soil? In wondering because I don’t want it to look stressed out as I am looking for a clean look. If you could email me that’d be awesome.

          • onblueberryhill

            August 7, 2017 at 1:17 pm

            I didn’t have any problems with the sides bowing out when I added soil – I think because of the vertical crossbar we added in the middle of each long side (our plan was for that brace to address any possible bowing).

  4. Hi,

    I had a few questions for you. On the materials list you list both roofing screws and metal screws but your instructions mention metal screws and wood screws only. Are you using “roofing screws” and “metal screws” interchangeably ? And how long were your wood screws ?

    Thanks,

    Ree

    P.S.
    Love the design, when I’m finished building mine I’ll send you some pictures.

    • onblueberryhill

      July 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm Reply

      We used metal roofing screws, so you’re right, I use the terms metal screw and roofing screw interchangeably. Our wood screws were 3″ deck screws. Good luck – I’d love to see finished photos!

  5. I know costs will vary but about what did it cost you to make one?
    They look great and if you put a bottom on it and raised it slightly off the ground tree roots wouldn’t sneak in either!

  6. Hi, Do you recall the gauge of the corrugated sheet metal you used?

  7. In photo # 8 (close up of one finished bed showing both a completed long end and a completed short end), the top and bottom 2 x 4s of the short end are (according to step 4), both 4 foot long and they reach from the outer edges of the 4 x 4 posts, so how can the short end piece of tin also be 4 foot long since they don’t extend to the outer edges of the 4 x 4 posts. What am I missing? What are the inside dimensions of the bed?

    • I am in the process of building these (about half way done… will finish up in the morning) and I just ran into this problem. It’s not doable. You either have to cut the end pieces down by 6″ on either end or somehow secure the sheet metal to the outside of the 4x4s and use the end 2x4s to secure it all together… I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. Probably just cut the sheetmetal.

      • I’m in the middle of building these too. Same problem. The math just doesn’t add up. You have to cut the metal ends 37.5 inches to fit inside the frame.

        • Are the 16.5″ gap fillers supposed to touch both ends of the board. I cut my whole 3 12′ board assuming measurements were correct and now find they are an inch short. I am really wondering about measurements used since everything seems so off. I am now out about $100. I should have framed everything out first and then double checked but wanted to cut everything all at once.

  8. Wow – Thank You for posting this easy, innovative and cost-effective raised bed method! I was doing a cursory search for raised bed construction ideas for my little desert southwest California ranch and your project fits the bill so well it’s scary! I was hoping to find ideas to allow me to incorporate a few items I already have laying around the farm: corrugated roof panels, a bunch of extra pieces of 2 x 6 and 4×4 timbers of varying lengths and now, I need look no further! Thank you again for the great write-up and photos you provided.

  9. Could these be used in a sloped area?

    • Doug – you could dig them into the slope, so that one side of the bed was set into the ground enough to make the bed level, or you could shore up the end on the low side of the slope with bricks, so that again, you leveled the bed out.

  10. I love how they look, and am trying to talk my husband into doing this! Have you had any problems with the weight of the soil bowing out the metal?

    • The soil does bow the sides out a little, but I actually like the look; after an entire year, it hasn’t created any problems with the structural integrity of the beds.

  11. Very nice design! I was contemplating something similar; I have a 50′ run of chain link fence that I’d like to put a 2′-2.5′ wide raised bed along that length. I am considering sheet metal for the ease of construction and low cost. Bricks would look nice but would take a lot more work and be quite expensive unless possibly obtained from a surplus source on craigslist. I thought about using either metal or heavy-gauge PVC piping to support the outer wall of the raised bed. The pipes would also provide a place to insert a partial hoop with plastic sheeting to cover the bed in case of varments, cold weather, or chem-trail fallout. Or it could support a trellis. If I fill the bottom 6 inches or so with twigs and branches, that will provide aeration and drainage, and require less soil and thus pressure against the walls of the bed. Not sure if I will need some sort of structural support horizontally along the top of the wall, but that would protect from the sharp edge. 20″ wide flashing may also be a good material as it comes in 50′ lengths. I think it comes in galvanized metal, but aluminum is more common; not sure if leeching aluminum into the plants would be an issue, or if the aluminum flashing would even be stiff enough without having to put too many support posts.

  12. Steve Sommerfeld

    March 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm Reply

    I am interested in details on your irrigation systems(s) for the raised beds. Do you have details of those that you could share??

    Cheers!

    • Steve – we ran the irrigation underground, and then up from the bottom of the bed to a “spigot” in each bed that could be turned off or on (so that the water could be turned on in some beds, and turned off in others). From that “spigot” we ran quarter-inch tubing with microsprays. I’ve experimented with about a million different ways of irrigating veggie beds, including soaker hoses, spray heads, etc, and these microsprays seem to work the best in terms of targeted but sufficient coverage. I can get you more details in terms of specific parts names, etc, if that would be helpful.

      • I would love more details and specific parts for the irrigation. I’m in Alabama, and irrigation is a constant nightmare of ours.

        • We’ve installed underground irrigation, connected to an irrigation clock / control panel in a nearby shed. Plumbing pipe runs underground up into a control valve in each bed. From there, 3/4″ rubber tubing runs around the perimeter of the bed, just under the soil, and at intervals, microsprays are inserted into the tubing. The microsprays are great because you can turn off individual ones, or adjust the direction / amount of the spray.

  13. My daughter has asked me to help her build these for her. It’s pretty simple but I do have a question. It’s regarding how you cut the galvanized (do you know what gauge it is for certain?). What kind of saw did you use? That’s about the most important tool and you don’t say at all. Also, what kind/size/type of blade does it require? If you don’t want to answer here, could you email it to me? Thank you!

    • Hi Bruce – we used a special double-bladed 4″ electric saw – however, if you weren’t making the beds “in bulk,” I think you could cut the metal sheets with just a pair of electric shears.

  14. Thanks for the idea of using roofing for raised beds! I have one of three up so far. I’m not sure how yours cost $250 per bed… does that include dirt? I figured that mine cost me under $50 each.

    http://uvulapie.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-worlds-most-expensive-vegetables_8.html

    • I’m glad the idea works for you! I think the $250 calculated in labor costs – that is, if you couldn’t build them yourself, what it would cost to have someone build one for you (materials + labor). When you’re handy enough to build them yourself, it really saves money!

  15. I just built these and they came out great! I made them 26in tall so that I wouldn’t have to cut the metal lengthwise, and made them only 30in wide on the inside (end boards measured 40in) Hint- metal snips cut the metal easily if you are only making a few. Now to fill them -the cost of organic gardening soil is going to kill me!
    Thanks for the great idea – love the fact that the metal will be between the soil & wood protecting from rot!

  16. If you build a raised garden on top of dirt do you need to do anything for drainage or do you just put good soil in and start planting?

    • You shouldn’t need to do anything special for drainage, as long as you fill the bed with a good planting mix – however, I did notice a lot of settling in the dirt the first year, and this spring I had to add another 12″ or so of soil to each bed – this is normal, and not a problem, just something to keep in mind.

  17. I use 18ga. corrugated metal quite a bit. Common tin snips will cut the metal without a problem – (use gloves). Wiss Left-Cut Aviation Snips are $14, which is way less than the $100+ saw and less noisy. I will be cutting the metal into sections so that the corrugation will be vertical instead of horizontal which should take care of the “bowing” from the dirt pushing out on the sides. Yes, more cuts for sure, but should be stronger. I am also going to invest in 2×6 cedar deck boards to serve as a “picture frame” to cover the end grain of the post and the horizontals to hide the metal edges, framing the top of the entire garden beds. This is going in our “urban garden” so, they need to look “pretty” too. Great idea putting the irrigation shutoffs in the beds – gonna do that too. Love the arch for the climbers too – bet that looks amazing mid-summer! Thanks for sharing this cool idea.

    • Tyler – this sounds amazing! Thanks for the info, it’s very helpful. I’d love to see a photo when they’re all done :)

    • Hi Tyler – I have been searching all over the Internet and cannot find 18 Gauge corrugated -what is your source?

  18. I am interested in detailed description of the irrigation system used. Thank you in advance for this info. I sure appreciate all the instructions you have posted. I’m excited for my son in law to build me one.

  19. This is exactly what the wife has been looking for, so, for the past week I’ve been buying material and have put 2 of them together. One question/comment regarding the side pieces of corrugated material. I tried for an hour to pound the 4 foot sections into the end of the bed and there was no way it would work without completely destroying the metal. I ended up just cutting the metal to size and to match the internal dimensions, which is what it looks like you did in the first picture under step 6 above. I just cut four vertical strips from the left over corrugated metal and screwed them in each corner to cover the little bit of exposed wood down each side. I plan to make 4 more of these and if there was some trick you used and could explain here it would be great.

    Thanks, Frank

  20. These are awesome. I do have one question. How does the 4′ piece of sheet metal fit on the inside? I calculate that the inside width of the box is closer to 3′ 2″ If the 2×4’s on each end are 4′ and actually go all the way to the end of the 4×4 ends.

    • It doesn’t… I’m in the same boat. Either make your end piece 2×4’s 5′ long so that you have enough room to put 4′ of sheet metal in between or make more cuts! :)

  21. Thank you!! My husband and I just built 3 of these and we didn’t kill each other!! Your directions were awesome and made this project the easiest by far! If all our projects had a step by step like you did, we would get alot more accomplished and would help our marriage! Thanks again, I am a big fan!!

    • onblueberryhill

      May 15, 2014 at 1:24 pm Reply

      You’re very welcome – I’m so glad that it was a successful project! I hope you have a wonderful gardening season :)

  22. We made 6 of these. Some alterations (26 inch roofing is all we could find and cut the short ends to fit) we also bought a relatively inexpensive angle grinder. …. Have the first one filled and getting some plants (kind of late to start seeds) tonight. We are filling the bottom half with wood and twigs in the spirit of Hugelkultur….

    Plan to get a jump on it this Fall to finish the remaining ones and husband is coming up with a trellis plan. …(Not exactly like yours……but similar)

    Materials seemed to be about $100 each to me PLUS the soil [don’t have enough to fill them all]

    • onblueberryhill

      June 2, 2014 at 3:19 pm Reply

      I’d love to see a photo once they’re planted and growing! It does take a LOT of soil to fill each one :)

      • I will send some photos……complete with the Hugelkultur process when things are moving more along. Another comment. We could not find 2×4 lumber treated for ground contact (like the 4x4x) so we put gravel under our beds.

        • onblueberryhill

          June 3, 2014 at 3:56 am Reply

          That’s a great idea because it probably helped to level the ground – which I found to be very important once I finished building the beds and was setting them in place, especially since some portions of my veggie garden were sloped downhill. It would have worked really well to dig down a ways and then use gravel to even it out!

  23. It also keeps rabbit away from the garden :)

  24. I love your project. I am planning to remove our carport and use the materials to make a box like you described. I will be recreating a trellis that is just slightly larger than our old carport. I will be placing these boxes (plan to make 2) on the sides so that the trellis/carport will serve also as a place to grow our vine vegetables. Thank you for your sharing. I love it.

    • That sounds like a wonderful project – good luck! I’d love to see photos when you’re finished :)

  25. Good afternoon,

    I just had a view questions. I’ve been planning on building something similar to these myself. First question is can you plant corn? The beds are 2ft tall…..will I have to use a ladder to pick corn? Also, I really like the idea of the trellises, you must be really smart! How do you get the beans that are on the outside and on top of the trellises? Again would i have to use a ladder? I understand that these a stupid questions, but I’m new to gardening. Thanks for any help.

    • There are no stupid questions when it comes to gardening :) You could definitely plant corn – I planted sunflowers in one of my beds, and they grew at least as tall as corn. You might need a ladder – I just bent the sunflowers down to where I could reach them, or stood on the ends of the bed, but a ladder would work, too. I didn’t need a ladder for the beans – I just walked under the trellis, and was able to reach all of them, even the ones on top, because they hung down.

  26. These planting beds are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing. I do have one question about your A-Frame climbing planters. How did you attach the cattle panels to the framing? Did you use u nails or some other attachment method? Also, it looks like you have the panels attached to a secondary 2×4 upright. How is that 2×4 attached to the framing – it is a little difficult to tell from the photos. Thank you!

  27. Hi, thanks for the detail! I’m planning on rebuilding my raised beds in a similar way, and was wondering how much bigger they could go without the weight being too much for the structure. My beds are 5′ x 20′ at the moment, and I do like being able to think in multiples of 100 square feet in planning my planting. It also makes the best use of my space. If I were to replace each of my beds with two 5’x10′ beds built like yours, would that be too much extra weight, do you think?

    • I worry about the 10′ span being too much for the metal – already, some of mine are bowing out (although it isn’t a problem). I think it could be done, but you might want to add a wood cross-beam support half-way down the length, just to give the metal panels some more support.

  28. I’ve been doing online research for building a raised flower bed. However, so many are wood and I don’t want to go through the expense of building a wood box, thought the wood is treated, and have it go bad in a few years. I think this is a brilliant idea for many reasons but I have one main concern: I live in Southern California where the hotter months of the year are in the mid 90’s as an average. I’m concerned that the metal will attract too much heat. What are your thoughts on this? In addition,

    • I think that as long as the galvanized tank is large enough, the soil won’t heat up too much – however, you will want to closely monitor watering, since it will probably dry out more quickly. You could also look for a place that gets a little bit of shade during the day – particularly in the late afternoon – to locate the tank. Let me know how it works out!

  29. Hi
    thanks for your posts on these galvanized beds. I work in Philadelphia with community gardens and as the population ages am looking for ideas to build raised beds.
    Wondering if the galvanized metal in anyway changes the dynamics of the soil?
    warming it up to much? changing PH, causing bacteria or mold problems, Drainage sufficient?

    I love the look but wondering about these issues.
    Eileen Gallagher egallagher @ pennhort.org

    • I haven’t experienced any problems so far – the soil appears to be very healthy, warms up nicely but never too warm (the beds are just so big that there’s a lot of soil to warm, and the galvanized panels are on the side, not the top, so they don’t get direct sunlight in the heat of the day, if that makes sense). Definitely no problems with mold or bacteria, and the drainage is excellent (again, the beds are very deep, and I’ve filled them with high quality soil and compost). We are going to go back this spring and cap the edges with wooden boards, to keep the galvanized panels from bowing out too much – I’ll post photos of the project.

  30. hi – regarding getting the tin to size – sometimes the supplier will do and while a grinder or metal shears will do the job – i found if you make a snip then tear it holding one side down with your feet – wear gloves and sturdy shoes etc unless like the bloke in the following demo video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB77Bii3M0I

  31. this is super!!!
    quote;
    “Our estimate, breaking down the cost per bed, was approx $250”

    Thats a heck of a pile o money for each bed…
    have you a POST on best places to go to salvage old material??..i just got corrigated iron sheeting for free..(my neighbour was gone;p) and im wondering about the cheapest way for fixing to wood..

    your garden sure is impressive!
    T

  32. Have you had any problem with the metal side facing the sun getting too hot for the plants on that side? Would I need to insulate that side of the box?

    • No, I find that there’s so much soil in the beds, and it takes so long to warm up, that at least in our climate (here in Oregon it’s pretty mild), it doesn’t overheat the plants, even on the hottest days.

      • This was a thought of mine, too. Looks like a great idea for the Pacific NW, but I live in South Mississippi, and I’m afraid the beds would get too hot here in the summer. They are very attractive.

  33. We built the raised beds last year and had GREAT success with our tomatoes, squash and zucchini. Our plants became so large that the normal tomato cage could not hold them up. I was excited to see your trellis and want to build it for this Spring. Could you give me your measurements? Your directions were awesome for the beds that even a novice like me built it with no trouble. Thank you!

    • I’m so glad that you were able to follow my layperson directions for the beds! We actually are assembling the trellis directions right now, including a supplies list and detailed how-to’s – should be posted shortly.

  34. Hi. We are taking out our lawn in the backyard….what do you think of using the old grass and dirt as fill for the bottom of the garden box??

    • If you make your beds as tall as mine, I think it’s fine, because most annual veggie plants won’t have roots that reach all the way to the bottom, anyway – our beds were so deep that once we realized how much soil it would take to fill them – and how expensive good compost soil was! – we used the old dig-out dirt to fill up the bottom 1/3, and I haven’t noticed any negative results.

  35. Have you experienced any corrosion on the galvanized metal due to the copper and other stuff in the pressure treated wood? It might also result in leeching to your soil. I spoke to a few roofing experts up in Seattle (where it rains a LOT) and came up with these notes/supplies to come up with a much better looking, safer, longer lasting approach.

    Raised Beds Notes

    Metal Sheets
    http://www.metalsales.us.com/agricultural/ms-colorfast45
    Galvalume better
    Food safe

    Other materials
    Carbon Steel screws into pressure treated wood, ACQ will corrode Galvalume
    Separate sheets and pressure treated wood with 30 pound felt before screwing together

  36. I too am interested in the detailed instructions for the irrigation system. Can you tell me where and when I will be able to find the detailed how-to’s for trellis design? Thanks so much for sharing!. This is what I’ve been looking for!

    • We plan to have plans, schematics and a parts list for the trellises available by mid-April – stay tuned!

  37. Thank you for the amazing bed design! I have two built and two more to go! These are perfect for our weather here in the NW! And they are tall enough to keep the dogs, ducks, and chooks out of. On topic of irrigation, I am using the wickibg bed method. I lined the beds with 6mil plastic, used corrigated pipe, and the beds are self watering! Thank you again, and enjoy your garden!

    • That sounds like a wonderful watering approach – particularly for our weather here in the Pacific NW!

  38. Where are you located ? I am in the process of building a few of these and came across your website. I have made a few mistakes which I have now learned from your step by step instructions. Thank you. You made a few references which tell me we are just miles from each other. We just bought 5 acres in Scholls off SR210 (Scholls Ferry).

    John

  39. I found your design very helpful for building raised beds for my mom. I made a few changes to your design. I made them 8×3 ft wide so it is easy to reach the center of the bed. I used 4 posts on each side. (I just liked the way it looked better) To eliminate the bowing I placed 2×4 to the back of the posts so they are flush with the 2×6. I made my beds 30 inches tall so it would be easier to use. I placed a 2×6 on the top to serve as a cap /seat. I put on the short ends first then ran the long ends so they but against them. This way there are no 45 degree angles to cut. I cut the tin to be installed vertically for hopefully a little better strength. The tin at lowes was much thinner than expected. I put a 4 inch layer of gravel in the bottom for drainage and landscaping cloth (weed barrier) over the gravel to keep the dirt from settling into it. For the irrigation, I used pex it does not break if it freezes. And is easy to work with. I used metal pipe and metal hose bibs for each box so that the faucets can be firmly attached to each box. My boxes came out to about 170$ each labor not included.(built 6)Thanks for the ideas this design is working great.

  40. Where do you get the microsprays for your irrigation? What I’ve found online doesn’t look like yours.

  41. I am in the Portland area and am trying to build raised beds like this, but can’t find heavy gauged corragated sheets. Where oh where did you get yours?

  42. I built a corrugated 4’x8′ raised bed over the weekend. I still need to add some internal bracing before I can add dirt. I stayed with the full height of the tin so it is very deep. I’m going to add lots of rotting wood and some worm towers. When my bed is finally in place I will be able to open a window and water it from my large aquarium when I do water changes. The overall look of these corrugated beds is nice. I am placing mine in my front yard for optimal sunlight. It will look nice out there.

  43. Thank you so much for this! I’m going to build them exactly as you suggest.

  44. Just wanted to say thanks so so much for sharing and making this available to all. I only was building 1 foot tall beds due constraints and had the picture in my minds eye. Then luckily I stumbled across your page. I was easily able to use all of your planning and hard work and modify it. Everything came out perfect and I couldn’t be happier! Thanks again.

  45. Great design!!!, but I have always understood that pressure treated wood should not be used when growing food??

    • onblueberryhill

      June 2, 2015 at 3:44 am Reply

      I’ve heard this concern from some people before, and then others haven’t felt that it’s a problem – I’ve used pressure-treated wood for veggie beds for over 20 years with no problems or ill effects, but that’s just my own personal experience.

      • All the pressure treated wood is on the outside of the box. The inside is all metal. So there should not be any issues with the chemicals from the wood getting in the soil. If there are concerns, one could use cedar instead. That is the main reason I chose this design…to keep the wood away from the dirt. Anyway, I am excited to build a couple of these!

  46. I am very interested in this project. I was wondering if you have any problems with rust. Is there something you have used to prevent rusting? I have a super nosy neighbor and want to build planter boxes along our fence line to create a natural fence to help create a 2nd barrier between our homes. I like the idea of the metal because past planter boxes have rotted out.

    • I’ve had them in place for a number of years now, with no sign of rust – perhaps because the metal is galvanized?

  47. How hot does the metal get? We are in Texas where temps can go over 100 degrees for well over 30 days at a time.

    • I suppose it would depend on how many hours in a day they’re in direct sunlight – I would think that the metal would get pretty hot to the touch, but at the size I built, there’s so much soil capacity, that I don’t think your plants would overheat. You would have to be careful not to touch the metal when it’s hot, though, and you might get more evaporation so you might have to water more frequently (which you probably do anyway on 100 degree days!)

  48. One of my sons wants to do some gardening in an existing area that a prior owner used. It has become overgrown, and we thought we’d use raised beds. I like this way of using the corrugated metal. A couple of questions:
    1. Are there any concerns using the galvanized metal with regards to leaching or contaminating the soil in any way. We’d like to keep it organic.
    2. More of a general question – Seems like I see many of the gardens 4′ wide. I’m sure that is good so as to minimize leaning. But has anyone built them wider, closer to 6′? I’d like to maximize the usage of the space I have and 6′ would be ideal.
    Thanks, Michael

    • Hi Michael – I haven’t had or heard of any concerns with the soil coming into contact with the galvanized metal. You could definitely build wider beds, but you’d have to make sure you had a least a three-foot reach, so that you could reach the middle of a six-foot bed from one side or the other. The only other possible downside would be whether the span would be too wide for structural support, given the weight of the additional soil – you might want to consider additional wooden braces on the outside of the metal sheeting mid-way down the length and width of the bed, just to give some additional support to places where the soil would be putting a lot of pressure on the metal span.

  49. My husband and I built one of your beds for my butterfly garden. I used organic material in the bottom so I didn’t need as much soul. Plans are already in the works to build another this weekend. The directions were easy to follow and I think we completed it in about an hour and a half. Thank you so much for sharing your design.

  50. I meant soil, not soul. I got a lot of soul already!

  51. still struggling with the corners. any suggestions would be appreciated

  52. How did, how are the trellises doing? any pictures with during growing season

  53. I’m midway through constructing my first batch and have only now realized from the comments that I’ll need to recut and use 5′ end pieces to have the metal fit right and really get 4′ x 8′– could you amend this to the original instructions in the body? Thanks.

    I made mine with beautiful cedar milled locally here in Vermont. I can’t wait to finish!

    • I found it much easier to put the first 4 gap-filler boards on *before* the metal gets attached. Also the holes in the galvanized steel needed to be predrilled.

    • Jeffrey Nelson

      May 8, 2016 at 7:06 am Reply

      If you have the handiness to miter-cut/bevel the shorter steel ends to get them to fit then do so.

      1) put a steel-cutting blade (cutoff disc) on your table saw at a 45-degree angle
      2) flip the panel back to front so that the top corrugation is concave, not convex
      3) set your fence so that it passes to the saw blade about a 1/2 inch, just barely notching the ‘valleys’ so that when you turn it back over the ‘peaks’ on the front are notched.
      4) when it comes time to attach the end panel, start one side of it snug with the corner and then use a board to smack the channels equally on the other side. The notches should keep everything in line.

  54. I built two of these last weekend with my daughter. Thanks for the detailed design, the plans were great and it looks fantastic.

    I am looking for options to fill the bottom half. I see some suggestions above. Considering the twigs and branches approach. Other ideas for organic material as fill?

  55. Just shared this with another friend (the 3rd for your plans and credit for this great idea.). Oh We used logs in the last 5 we built this year. Packed the bottom foot tight – those with twigs and branches had decomposed in 2 years.

    Now we are all filled up with beds and expanding to other ideas for our decks. The new ones are not stained. Want to let the wood sit a year before I do that.

    Would love to share a picture but not sure how since they are on FB. Going to try since it is a public FB album. Not a bunch in the beds right now because it is early in the season and plants are small.

  56. I was able to build my frame this weekend. My brother has a plasma cutter and will help me cut the siding material in the next couple of weeks. Being in TX, and after reading comments on heating up concerns, I think I’m going to set some styrofoam between the metal and the dirt on the south facing side. I got some perfect sized sheets in a shipment and now I can keep them out of the landfill.
    I really appreciate your instructions. This is the first thing I’ve built in 30 years, it was fun and it’s going to look beautiful.

  57. This has got to be fate! We live in Portland and want these exact style beds. I’ll give you a call when we’re ready to set ours up!

  58. Hi I am metal raised Garden bed supplier we make garden bed and outdoor products, if you need them you could check our facebook : https://www.facebook.com/teakygardenshed/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

  59. I just made two of these with my buddy. Together they measure 12x2x2. Love the look and can’t wait to get started with the plants. Looking at a miracle grow soil(can’t get bulk…no way to bring it to my planters….condo community.) trying to think of what I could use as filler. Only really want a foot or so of soil. Any ideas??

  60. Please, oh my – do not use pressure treated lumber near growing edibles. It leaches toxic chemicals.

  61. Any reason to not use a colored steel sheet rather than the silver look? My source has green and red steel available.

  62. Reviews on Home Depot site [from folks using the galvanized sheets for roofing] comment they dent easily and are rather thin. About a year in to your project, you commented there was some bowing from soil weight. Now that you’re 3+ years in, do you think sheets are heavy enough or would you have preferred thicker material?

    • I’ve actually had no further problems with bowing over the years; the soil has settled, and I think that the short vertical plank in the middle of the long sides of the bed has been sufficient to address any potential bowing. The beds still look just about as good as the day they were built!

  63. I have made these beds using pressure treated wood, (again – no arsenic used in pressure treated lumber any more and the soil does not touch the wood), and galvanized steel and they are excellent. I have had no problem with bowing from the weight of the soil either. They are very nice looking beds. I made two of them in the spring, and even modified one of them to be only 16″ deep. I am making two more as we speak and going to find a way to set them up with soaker hoses and rain barrels so that I do not have to water them every day by hand. These are very sturdy. I framed the inside of the bottom and put a floor in mine because of the volls and moles and weeds. Hate them. They eat everything you put in the ground. This is an excellent design that can be modified in many ways. Thank you for putting it on the web.

  64. Just finished a couple of these and look great, lots of compliments (Mum wants some!), so thank you for putting up! As per Eden we put a big heavy plastic sheet underneath but more for stopping tree roots coming in and plundering the good dirt

    Did you have anymore info on the irrigation you use? Was thinking individual drippers first but see you’ve mentioned microsprays, are they the ones that produce a mist? Or big heavy droplets in a small circle? A photo or two would be great :)

    • I’ve tried individual drippers, but I’ve had more success with microsprays – they produce more of a mist than big droplets, although actually they can vary between a fine mist and a pretty heavy rain, depending on how you twist the top of the emitter. I’ll send some photos to your e-mail address :)

      • I would be interested in some photos of the irrigation system as well. Is that a check valve below the shutoff? Also any part numbers would be appreciated.

        On another note, are there plans for the trellis boxes?

        Thanks! Awesome project!

        • I’d be happy to e-mail you some irrigation photos – I used micro emitter sprays in each of the beds, with a shut-off valve in each bed as well, so that I can turn off the water for one bed but leave it on in others. Unfortunately, I don’t have any parts numbers or written plans for the trellis boxes – they were built just like the raised beds, but with narrower dimensions.

  65. Love the beds. Was wondering do you have any problem with the beds being hotter because of the metal? We live in the south and the summers can be brutal. I don’t want to cook my roots before they are harvested 😉

    • I haven’t noticed any problems along these lines – I think because of the width and depth of the beds. I would guess that if the beds were narrower or not as deep, it could become a problem in very hot, sunny climates, but I think that with the dimensions I used, you wouldn’t overheat the plants through the soil.

  66. We have been planning to build these for about a year now, this post is great info thanks for sharing. 4 years in, how are they holding up (structurally/visually)? Are they starting to show signs of rust? Is the wood holding up?

    • They are actually in amazing shape – the metal pieces haven’t really worn or warped at all. The wood is in good shape, as well, perhaps owing to the fact that it is pressure treated. All in all, there is very little visible wear.

  67. I just had a hip replaced in the middle of February and am fretting about not being able to garden this spring. I have been looking at raised bed ideas and these looked great. Nice depth for healthy tomatoes plant roots. Now all I need to do is find someone to help me build them.
    Great detailed directions. Thanks a lot. Can’t wait for spring.

  68. Thank you for this write up. Building the second of about 15-20 I might build. In the front I have a slope so some beds might have a portion dug into the slope.

    One thing I did add was pvc pipes (4 each side vertical in the bed) that I will use smaller pvc tub to go in the pipes to make arches to help fight off the hail here in Colorado. Will be a quick setup if I know weather will be bad. Arch and a garden fabric and it won’t stop damage, but may reduce it.

    Once again thank you. I really enjoy building these!

    • This is a great idea; we usually insert bendable PVC pipes into the ground along the long sides of a few of the beds each spring, so that we can create a garden fabric tunnel to protect new seedlings from predation or so that we can warm up baby plants. Luckily, we usually don’t have to worry about protection from hail here in Oregon!

  69. I used this post to make a larger (12×4) version of this bed. We made a few minor adjustments and it turned out so well!
    Thanks!

  70. In regards to anchoring them to the ground, I imagine that the weight is sufficient that they don’t move?
    Do you recall the gauge of metal you used?
    How did you address the inside corners where the metal connects?

    These are great plans and have created a design to remove my 26×16 foot deck and replace it with these framing the area, and adding bench seats into two of them for a lovely patio in nature effect.

    • The beds don’t require any anchoring – I just dug them in a little to ensure that they were as level as possible because the ground in our veggie garden slopes to the south. We will be publishing complete directions, along with photos and a materials list, in Issue #3 of By Hand: Making Communities. Issue #3 comes out in May 2017 and you can read more about it here: http://www.byhandserial.com :)

      • Hello and thank you for you tireless efforts to educate us all! I am eagerly waiting to get started, but thought I would wait for you updated version. When I clicked on byhandsderial.com i was unable to find anything referencing your project. Can you enlighten me? Thanks so much.

        • onblueberryhill

          May 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm Reply

          We’ve postponed inclusion of directions for building these beds until a later issue of By Hand, which won’t publish until the fall or next spring, so in the meantime, I’d be happy to try to answer any questions you have :)

  71. We are in our 70’s but don’t look or act like it (but working hard physically we feel it)
    Our 2 sons 16yo and 18yo built us 5 raised beds 16’x4′ with 3′ path between them and an L shaped perimeter 2′ wide by 50+’ in length
    They used corrugated roofing 33″ tall & 8′-16′ lengths that we had saved from farm give aways and a metal resale yard in a Marietta
    Anchored with 4×4’s at each corner and in the centers
    They ran cattle fence down the middle of each for climbing vegetables
    They filled the boxes with dirt that I kept when we put in our pool 15years ago
    The top 12″ are a mixture of sandy loam and compost that we had been accumulating
    Sides they reinforced with t-posts from our local steel recycler every 4′

  72. Does anyone have any advice for choosing 2 1/2 inch steel versus 1 1/4 inch steel sheets? Would one be stronger than the other or just offer different aesthetics?

  73. On the 4 x 8 foot garden beds, (the first box) the short sides of the boxes do not work with 4′ metal. You call for 2, 8 foot 2 x 4’s cut into 4 foot pieces. But when you attach them to the outside corners of the 4 x 4’s, the short side will now be 3’2″ on the inside of the box not 4 feet. So to fit the 4 foot piece of galvanized metal inside the box, your treated 2 x 4’s must be 4’10”. This will account for the width of the corner 4 x 4’s and the 8′ 2 x 4. This would have been nice to know before cutting the 2 x 4’s. I had to cut the metal to 3’2″ for it to fit. The next box I will cut the end 2 x 4’s to 4’10” to get a true 4′ x 8′ box.

  74. I just completed four of these and I could not be happier! They are EXACTLY what I was looking for. They look great in my garden.

    I made one big modification as I was concerned with eventual bulging. I added a spacer between the middle leg and the steel on the long side of the box (each side). I then installed a screw in eye bolt about two thirds the way down through this spacer and into the middle leg. I then used a clamp to squeeze the side together a bit, while installing a 1/4″ galvanized steel cable (clamped in the middle and at the eye hooks) between the two eye bolts. I installed the cable as tight as I could. Then when I released the clamp, the sides returned to normal position and placed tension on the cable. The added cost was another $15 per box, but I think its a minimal cost to keep the boxes from bulging and looking good long into the future. Thanks again for this GREAT plan!!!!

    • onblueberryhill

      June 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm Reply

      I’m so glad these worked for you – and what a great addition, thanks for writing out your modifications, I know a lot of readers will really appreciate it!

  75. would this box work in a 4′ x 4′ dimension? And if so, might you have instructions to build it in that size?

    • I don’t see any reason why these dimensions wouldn’t work; however, I don’t have any written plans for a 4×4 construction . . .

  76. My husband just built 3 of these, 8’X2’X2′, he built in our garage & transported via wagon to garden. We are in process of making a 4X4 hexagon & 2 more 4X4 square boxes. We are adding rocks, hay & decomposed leaves on bottom of each so we don’t have to add so much compost for growing plants. We placed all boxes on previous tilled garden, covered with black weed barrier & then barkdust around each box. We have horrible moles, raccoons & slugs here in Oregon so these raised garden boxes will work great!

    • These sound wonderful! I have found that the raised boxes really do cut down on the slug and rabbit damage in our garden, although unfortunately we still seem to get the brunt of the mice/voles :(

  77. I see you didn’t line each bed with anything. How long do you think the metal will last?

    • I’m not sure, but my beds have been in place for four years now, and there’s no sign at all of wear or degrading in the metal – they look pretty much brand-new :)

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