The base of a raised garden bed is on the ground and its soil sits directly on the ground, whereas the bed of a standing garden bed is on legs and its soil sits on a wooden or other material base.
The benefit of a standing garden bed is that you can work it without needing to bend over or kneel on the ground. This is preferable for people with back pain or who have trouble bending, or for those times when the ground is dirty, wet, or uncomfortable on the knees.
If working a raised garden bed is an issue for you, or you want to maximize your garden space, in essence creating twice the gardening space of a raised bed in the same vertical area.
This article will show you how to build both a raised garden bed and a standing garden bed in one wooden structure… a standing raised garden bed!
Another great benefit of this design is important in drought areas. This setup helps conserve water, as the drainage from the standing bed will drip down onto the raised bed beneath.
1/8” wood drill bit (for pilot holes),
1/16” wood drill bit (for pilot holes),
3/8” (or similar size) wood drill bit (for drainage holes),
Phillips screw bit,
circular or hand saw (if you don’t have the wood pre-cut by the lumber yard),
bucket large enough to hold 1 gallon of water,
(3 baseboards) 46”long 1” thick x 1′ wide pine boards (mine are actually 11.25” wide),
(4 legs) 3′ long pine 2×4’s,
(2 leg tops) 34” long pine 2×4’s,
(2 ends) 34” long 1” thick x 1′ wide long pine boards,
(2 sides) 4′ long 1” thick x 1′ wide pine boards,
(1 center support beam) 34” long (2×4 or 1” thick x 3.25” wide pine board),
(40) 8 x 3” galvanized deck screws for attaching 2×4’s to 2×4’s,
(12) 6 x 1-5/8” galvanized deck screws for attaching 1” thick boards to each other (and to a 2×4 if your center support beam is a 2×4),
1 gallon size TallEarth.com ECO-SAFE Wood Treatment (provides 150-200 square feet of coverage),
cardboard enough to cover raised bed area on ground (optional),
I designed the standing bed around three 1′ wide pine boards that will be the base of the bed, although the boards are actually only 11.25”. No more than 3′ wide beds are best for adults, so reaching the center of the bed is easy, so these boards are the perfect width.
The bed length can be as long or as short as you like. For this project, the bed is 4′ long.
Set the 3 baseboards (46” long) down on the ground tight against each other.
Set two 2×4’s cut to 3′ long (or your desired height, but I recommend no more than 3′ long… these are the base legs) atop the baseboards at the sides.
Set another 2×4 across the baseboards, where it will be attached to the top of the legs. This is the 2×4 your baseboards will rest on. Measure and cut this 2×4 to be only very slightly longer than the baseboards are wide.
Drill pilot holes with a 1/8” drill bit through the top 2×4 into the legs, and secure with 3” long galvanized deck screws. It might help to drill your holes slightly off-center so there will room near the center for more screws later.
Repeat steps 1 through 4.
Clear your work space and set down 1 of the (2) 34” long end boards, it is the same length as your top 2×4.
Remove the board from underneath the legs and top 2×4. Set down another length of 2×4 about 6” away from and parallel to the top 2×4. This will support the board you just marked so you can screw it into place.
Place the marked board on top of the top 2×4 at the marked height. Square it up and check the distance from the bottom of the board to the bottom of the legs is the same on both sides. Drill (2) 1/8”pilot holes through the board and into each leg, and drill in your 3” screws.
Repeat steps 6 through 9. Now you have the 2 end pieces of your standing bed.
Set the 2 end pieces on their side parallel to each other and set 1 of your (2) 4′ long side boards flush with the end piece boards. Square it up, drill 1/8” pilot holes, and drill in 3” screws.
Turn the standing bed onto its other side and attach the other side board in the same way.
Remove the center baseboard, and draw a line on both side boards just under where the baseboards are.
Remove the baseboards and set the standing bed on its side again. Set in the exact center, between and exactly flush underneath the lines you just drew, your support beam.
This support beam can be a 2×4 or a 1” thick piece as wide as makes it more or less flush with the bottom of the side boards (mine is 3.25” wide), through which you will drill pilot holes into the support beam and then drill screws.
Set the baseboards back in, and drill 6 equally spaced drainage holes through the center of each baseboard with a 3/8” or similar size wood drill bit. Don’t drill the drainage holes into the top of the legs or the support beam. Remove the baseboards.
Set the raised garden where you want it to be in your yard, preferably a place with good well-drained soil, and set cardboard down, lining the interior of the raised bed on the ground. This will make it harder for weeds and grass to grow through the soil you will add to the raised bed.
Fill your raised bed with soil atop the cardboard, and fill your standing bed with soil as well.
Add your seeds and/or seedlings and water them… DONE!
About Troy Boylan
Ecoculture Village Founder & President; Anthropology BA, Interdisciplinary Studies: Ethnobotany BS. Two things I think are worth anything at all… all things wilderness and ecoculture.