Increase your harvest and make your garden chores easier with this simple DIY raised garden bed featuring a built-in bench for tending your plants.

When conventional gardening is not an option—if you don’t have the space, perhaps, or the right kind of soil — raised beds are often a viable, if not advantageous, alternative. Beds with conservative widths (3’–5′) allow you to reach into the middle to plant or weed without ever stepping on, and thus compacting, the soil. And the bench seats at the ends allow you to sit comfortably, as opposed to bending over while tending the bed.

This project for building a shallow raised bed from “The Vegetable Gardener’s Book of Building Projects” is beginner-friendly, only takes half a day to complete, and doesn’t require any special equipment or woodworking experience. Raise a toast to raising your garden – and you’ll be growing more of your own fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers before you know it.

Raised Garden Bed Photo.

The built-in benches on this handy planter provide a convenient and comfortable perch for tending your plants. Photo © John Gruen.


  • 2″× 8″ cedar (two 12′ lengths)
  • Twenty-four 3″ galvanized wood screws


  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Wood saw
  • Power drill
  • 5/32″ twist drill bit
  • Driver bit to match screws


Cutting the Lumber

Cut the cedar into two 72″ lengths for the long sides (A), two 33″ lengths for the short sides (B), and two 36″ lengths for benches (C). (Reference diagram below).

Constructing the Bed

Create a rectangular frame by fastening the long sides (A) to the short sides (B), as shown in diagram below. Then set the bench seats (C) atop the frame, flushing up the edges, and fasten them in place.

Raised garden bed diagram.

Builder’s Tip: Adding bench boards to the ends of the raised bed not only provides a comfortable seat for weeding but also serves to strengthen the corners. Illustration © Michael Gellatly.

Setting Up the Bed

While you can simply fill a raised bed with soil once it is built, doing some prior ground preparation will produce much better results. Once you’ve chosen a location (a spot that will provide full sun is ideal), remove any turf. Next, dig down, turning over a couple feet of subsoil. Finally, fill the bed with a good mixture of soil, compost, and manure, and level the surface.

Excerpted and adapted from The Vegetable Gardener’s Book of Building Projects © The Editors of Storey Publishing. Projects designed and built by Kevin Ayer.

Editors of Storey Publishing

Storey Publishing, located in North Adams, Massachusetts, specializes in books for all ages that promote creative hands-on living and teach the skills to enhance enjoyment… See Bio

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The Vegetable Gardener’s Book of Building Projects

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