In week 1 of the One Room Challenge, I mentioned that our backyard makeover needed to be done in stages in a specific order.  Last week, we completed the 1st part of our DIY elevated garden beds.

We started out with the garden so that we can start planting & hopefully have some veggies to harvest & flowers to enjoy by the time we get the rest of the project done.

I just started gardening last year when my DH was compelled (by lots of begging) to build a raised planter box.  I am definitely a gardening newbie but I have the best mentor, Grandmother.  She’s 90 & she’s lucky enough to have a huge yard right in the middle of the city.  She has everything from fruit trees (grapefruit, orange, even apricot) to greens (collards, cabbage, lettuce), from berries to root vegetables.  And she shares it all with friends, family, random passers by.  It’s absolutely amazing.

According to Grandmother & her gardening friends there are specific dates that seeds should be planted.  I thought I was doing good to follow the farmer’s almanac planting time guidelines only to learn that I can’t just plant by season, month, or even week.  In fact, I have already missed 1 of only 3 dates that I can plant the okra seeds her gardening neighbor gave me.

Good thing the 1st of 2 elevated garden beds is done.  We were not very scientific in building this;  we knew that the garden had 5 requirements:

  1. 18″ planting depth – deep enough to accommodate the flowers & veggies I want to plant

    For this we used 1 x 6 boards cut to size, stacked 3 boards high, & attached them with screws to 2×4 stakes for stability.

  2. No more than 36″ wide – it’s hard to reach farther than that

    Along the long fence we ended up with about 3′ 10″.  Measure thrice, cut once.  I did say we weren’t scientific.

  3. A way to contain the soil against the iron fence

    Chicken wire.  Done.  We used it on the bottom of the planter box & knew that it would contain the dirt very well.  An added bonus is that you can’t really see it unless you’re right up on it.


    I applaud people who dig for in ground gardens, but I was not excited about digging up grass.  Plus… sprinklers.  Super convenient but not fun to work around.  So we consulted a landscaper friend and chose to plant right on top of the grass, after putting down weed block. Weed block fabric, cardboard, or heavy weight black plastic would all work but we chose a combination of  fabric & cardboard for breath-ability & eco-friendliness.

  5. Reuse as many materials as possible

    In the end we only had to purchase the weed block fabric & landscape pins, some chicken wire, & dirt (which I am not happy about, but more on that later).

And here’s the final result of DIY elevated garden bed:

DIY Elevated Garden Beds

The garden bed was easy enough to build, but not without it’s hiccups.

  • I already mentioned the width along the long side being wider than 36″.
  • Add to that, this little issue…

I promise I mapped out the sprinklers but this is the problem… I mapped out the placement but did not specifically account for the height of the sprinkler head pop-up.

It wasn’t high enough so we had to replace it.  We originally opted to completely replace the sprinkler head with a taller pop-up revolving sprinkler head, but that is not as straight forward as it sounds.

2 trips to the hardware store later & luckily (PRAISES), our local Home Depot had just what we needed.  Instead of trying to replace the pop-up, DH got an extension which would attach to the original fitting in the ground & the original pop-up sprinkler head then attaches to the extension.  Done.

Only thing is the dirt has to slop downward so as not to cover the sprinkler head that still needs to pop-up from 12″ to 18″.

THE SOLUTION: Both of the last 2 “problems” I plan to solve by placing some potted plants in that area.  Perfect plants are the ones that are invasive & should really be contained in pots. Like mint.  Lots of mint.  You know, for Mojitos!  The most refreshing summer adult beverage!  Mmmm, Mojitos.  And also mint tea.

  • Last but not least, let there be dirt!You may have noticed the many bags of dirt laying around the garden bed.  In case you missed that, I’ll show you again…  click the photo to see ALL the bags.
DIY elevated garden bed

This is just 1 batch.  We bought bags twice & will likely never do that again.  Nothing’s wrong with the dirt (and compost) we bought in bags, it’s just that… Dirt Yards! Who knew that dirt yards are so much more practical.  WHO KNEW? My landscaper friend, that’s who.  I thought the prices were only “dirt cheap” for landscapers.

Now I know.  Dirt yards + a shiny new red wheelbarrow = no more bags of dirt!

Rainwater – yet another perk the shiny new red wheelbarrow captures

As for the compost… only after we started moving the compost bin I’ve been “feeding” for the last year did I realize that we have black gold at the bottom of this thing.  By the time we got around to moving it, we’d already bought several bags of compost.  And I was kicking myself with the “booted” foot!

No child labor laws were broken during the moving of this compost bin.

Now the 1st of 2 elevated garden beds is in, the compost bin is in place (until we build a new one – don’t ask), and the poor sick baby oaks are gone (sad but true).  Now look who shows up to see what’s going on at the 4th house.

Where were YOU when all this work was going on, Mr. Tickles?!

Well, have a wonderful holiday weekend & stop by again to see our progress on this backyard makeover.

DIY Rasied Garden Beds

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  1. I love your raised garden beds! We (ok, my boyfriend) dug out our garden beds and it was so much work. Plus it’s harder to work in them since they are ground level. I’d imagine having them taller would save your back and knees a bit. I’m excited to see what you end up growing. We have tomatoes, bell peppers and jalapenos planted right now.

    1. Hey Sam! Thanks for stopping by!
      I am in love with the garden bed & can’t wait to start planting. So far we know we’ll have cukes, peppers, tomatoes, basil & okra, but the rest… well I’ll have to know within the next week so we can get them going. Maybe we can share some gardening tips since you have many of what we have planned as well.

    1. Thanks Robin! I think we’re all SO ready to get outside, I know I am! We still have to get the 2nd half of that garden done, but so far so good!

  2. Hi! I love your elevated beds! What a great yard you have to work with. Looking forward to following along! Happy you are doing an outdoor space as well. šŸ™‚

    1. Hi Joy, thanks! There’s only a handful of us doing outdoor spaces& I am excited to see our progress. Now if we could just get a (small) break from the rain!