Raised Bed and Trellis

15 Materials
4 Days

Moving from an apartment to a first home meant I could finally have a garden! Well, that was until I realized the soil was solid clay and my low fence left me feeling a little too exposed. So I designed and built a raised bed and trellis to provide a great south facing SFG space and a privacy screen.

Here's the completed project!

The day I closed on the house I submitted a request to the Architectural Review Committee for our HOA. After getting an idea off Pintrest, I used Realtime Landscaping Architect 2016's free trial to measure out and model how the trellis would fit into the rest of the landscaping at my new house.

With acceptance of the request, I ripped out and transplanted three existing butterfly bushes and two of three needlepoint hollies. I eventually took out the last holly, but I didn't have anywhere to transplant it.

The general plan... The cost of wood for such a high raised bed was more than I wanted to spend. I switched my plan to corrugated metal, which should hold up better than wood in the long run. I ended up cutting the bottom couple of inches off the metal sheeting on two sheets so I wouldn't have to dig as deep in the clay. My backyard slopes a couple of inches, so cutting the metal for the higher side was easier than trying to dig in the metal any deeper than I had to.

I cut the metal with a metal blade on my jigsaw. No need for all the other fancy tools Home Depot said I needed!

Trying to dig the trench for the perimeter of the raised bed was much harder due to the existing trellis... In hindsight, I should have made the raised bed first and then the trellis. Oh well!

By securing the two 8' sections together with more metal screws, the raised bed became much more stable.

How do you cut an 8' board by yourself? I realize this isn't the proper way to do it, but I had to go with what I had. I supported the end on a leftover bag of cement and an extra board. It worked!

Adding on the 1"x6" topper not only increased stability, but also makes a nice bench. They are secured to the 2x4 posts with little triangles of left over 2x4s which mimic the support spans on the trellis and add stability.

I used a scrap pallet to support the middle as I filled the bed with a 50/50 mix of screened topsoil and compost. Originally I was thinking of filling most of the bed with lower quality soil, but the price difference wasn't that much.

It took 2.5 cubic yards of soil to fill this monster bed.

The top 6" is a square foot mix of peat, vermiculite, and compost. Had I known exactly what I was doing, this project would have taken about 4 days... I spread it out over multiple weekends though.

Now it's time to wait for the weather to warm up to plant and enjoy the backyard.
Update: It's growing! I added a little wire fencing as my puppy thought the soil was perfect for hiding her bone. I also stapled nylon twine to the top frame make the square foot garden grid to keep track of spacing and map out what I planted where.
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 48 questions
  • PeprmintPatti
    on Aug 26, 2020

    Will the corrugated metal create a high heat factor on the soil ?

    • Kerry
      on Aug 26, 2020

      The volume of moist soil helps regulate the temp. (The specific heat of the water in the soil is much higher than the metal.)

  • Linda Lettan
    on Aug 27, 2020

    Thank you

  • Laurie Kilts
    on Aug 29, 2020

    GREAT job!!! 12 years ago I'd built 3-inferior above ground gardens. Which need to be removed now! I'd like to copy your design to help hide my neighbors old, ugly, decrepit, eye sore fence along one side of my yard & use as my new above ground garden. Yea!!! But I need help! Laid weed cloth then mulch, but after several years developed nasty white mold & a (ha!) mushroom farm! Told due to the mulch not having a place for natural decompe. I've removed everything and now thinking about using a rubber mulch w/no weed cloth to help with weed control while also adding a decorative look. Next, previous owners used a dug in black bendable edger that has seen better days! Should I simply replace the ending with more of the same, or could I get by with using a thick layer of weed cloth dug in where the previous plastic border was? I'm 65, female, & alone! And planning on selling my home in the next 2yrs., since I no longer can physically care for it all & lack the $$ to hire help :( I would greatly appreciate any & all advice/suggestions! Oh, I live in a 4-season climate. TY!

    • Kerry
      on Aug 29, 2020

      If you want to copy what I did, I’d suggest cutting the metal roofing in half, so then you would have 4x4x2’ boxes. Mine are tall enough that I never bothered with weed cloth at the bottom and just have a bit of gravel for extra drainage.

Join the conversation

2 of 323 comments
  • Myrna Roy Collins
    on Aug 28, 2020

    You did a great job and I love your innovations to cut the 8' boards. I worked for the depot and we were trained to upsell in every department but I am one to utilize what I have also. Not everyone can buy every tool. Using the metal was also a brilliant idea. I will try this when we get our own home. And after you figured it out, I will build the trellis last. Great job!!!

  • Tanya McCabe
    on Aug 29, 2020

    Well done! Awesome!

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