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ABOUT A YEAR AGO, my wife and I moved across the country to acreage in Wisconsin. While we have many plans for the land, our immediate short-term goals were as follows: 1) Convert the existing garden into a chicken run and renovate a chicken coop, 2) Build raised beds close to the back of the house so the whole family can enjoy growing their favorite veggies and herbs. It was my responsibility to come up with a good design for raised beds, and I was told the beds had to keep out the weeds, be easy to use, and resist as many critters as possible.

The design I settled on is perfect for someone like me with an average --at best--level of carpentry skills. Meaning, I have a miter saw that I really enjoy and one of my greatest accomplishments with this tool is that I still have all of my fingers.


Miter Saw


Staple Gun

Aviation Snips


2"x6"x8' Pressure-Treated Lumber (6)

2"x4"x8' Pressure-Treated Lumber (3)

2"x2"x8' Pressure-Treated Lumber (8)

Chicken Wire, 1 roll, 4'x25'

Chicken Wire, 1 roll 2'x25'

2 1/2" Deck Screws

1/2" Staples

The finished bed will be four feet wide by eight feet long, and stand about a foot high, not including the lid. With the lid, it stands about three feet high. We have found the 4'x8' footprint to be ideal for managing small varieties of veggies. Also, it plays well to the standard lumber lengths. Last year we grew Swiss chard, carrots, green beans, broccoli, and tomatoes (without the lid). If you add the lid, be aware it will limit your ability to grow taller plants.


Find the right site for your raised bed taking into account desired sunlight, water availability, and drainage. The flatter the site the better.


Take two of the 2x6 boards and cut them in half creating four lengths of wood measuring 4'.

With one of the 2x4 boards, make four 11" cuts.

Cut the other 2x4 board into four lengths of 2'.

The last 2x4 can be cut into two lengths of 18" with 45[degrees] angle cuts on both ends so as to fit a corner.

Take two of the 2x2 boards and cut them in half, creating four lengths of wood measuring 4'.

Cut one of the 2x2 into two lengths measuring 21.5" and one length measuring 45". This cut can be saved until the end because the lengths may vary slightly depending on the wood being used.


1. Lay two of the whole 2x6 boards flat on the ground, parallel and placed snuggly against each other. Place two of the 11" lengths of 2x4 (corner posts) perpendicular at both ends and secure them with four screws each.

2. Repeat this process with the remaining whole 2x6 boards and 11" 2x4 boards. You now have both of the long sides of the beds.

3. Set the long walls upright and opposite each other with the corner posts facing inward. Connect them by attaching a 4' 2x6 to the corner posts, beginning with the ground level. Repeat this process with another 4' length right above the last. You should have two clean corners after this step. The whole bed will be exactly 4' wide.

4. Repeat step 3 on the other end and your garden bed will be ready.

5. Roll out the 4' chicken wire in the bottom of the bed and use the aviation snips to cut a rectangle leaving extra 2" or so at both ends. Staple the wire into the floor of the bed leaving no gaps. This will keep burrowing critters from sneaking in from below.

6. The lid will be constructed in much the same way as the bed. Lay two of the 8' lengths of 2x2 on the ground parallel. Connect them at the ends using two of the 2' lengths of 2x4. Duplicate this process to form the other long wall of the lid.

7. These two sides will be connected with two of the 4' lengths of 2x2 fastened to the lid corner posts.

8. Repeat this step on the other end.

9. You'll need to add a vertical support post in the middle of the long walls to keep the lid from drooping. Now it's time for the last cut mentioned above. This can be a piece of 2x2 cut to fit the space and attached with screws. I also recommend another support post running horizontally between the top beams of the lid. This keeps the lid sturdy when it is set on its side.

10. Use the 18' lengths of 2x4 as corner braces. It can wedge into the corner, one end fastened to the corner post and the other to the lower end beam.

11. Repeat step 10 on the other side.

12. Set the lid on top of the garden bed. It should sit nicely on top with the exact same 4'x8' dimensions.

13. Line the lid with chicken wire. The 2' wide wire wraps around the exterior and the 4' wire covers the top. Fasten it to the frame with staples.

14. If you would like the lid attached to the bed, attach hinges to the side of the lid with corner braces.

Enjoy constructing these raised beds, and I hope you have some "helpers" like I did.


1. Wrapping the sides of the lid with

4 mil plastic sheeting works great for growing tomatoes.

2. For better functionality for one person, use a chain to connect the lid to the garden box so it will sit perfectly upright when open.

3. Putting down cardboard before you add your soil and amendments helps block weeds and grass. Plus, the worms eat it!

JEFF MERKLE homesteads with his wife, Steph, and two young children on four acres in southeastern Wisconsin. The couple grows food in their raised bed gardens, keeps bees, and raises a small flock of egg-laying hens and one naughty Barred Rock rooster named Bruce.
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Author:Merkle, Jeff
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Instructions
Date:Apr 18, 2019
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