We already have a few wine barrels planted with blueberries along the east fence and plan to add more to hold the boysenberries, so we need to see how these raised beds will fit. After taking measurements and drawing many configurations on paper, we determined we have room for seven to eight raised beds. Each will be 18 feet long, four feet wide and two feet high. Now to decide on building materials.
We were told that for organic gardening, you don’t want to use treated wood as the chemicals can leach into the soil but we had to determine which kind of untreated wood will work best. Everyone we’ve talked to has recommended we use either redwood or rough cedar. We decided on cedar because the experts said it’s especially sturdy and we can expect the beds to last for at least 20-30 years. Four inch framing screws and nickel washers will hold them all together. Because the beds will be sitting on a concrete base, we’ll need good drainage and learned that we should put about 6″ of gravel in the bottom of each bed.
Each bed will need four 12″ x 2″ boards cut into 18 foot lengths; four 12″ x 2″ boards cut into 4 foot lengths; eight 4″ x 4″ posts cut into 2 foot lengths; and, 500 pounds of gravel – all times eight beds. We put it out to bid to the three lumberyards that carry rough cedar and waited to hear back on the cost.
Holy Moley, Batman……..we were stunned! We had no idea what a costly project this would be. One company wanted nearly $9,000, another one wanted nearly $8,000. The third was considerably less but still way over our budget – so time to fall back and regroup.
We decided we would start with only four beds and see how our gardens grow. We talked again with Roadside Lumber in Agoura, CA, the most affordable one, and they really worked with us. We were able to purchase all the materials, including framing screws, washers and gravel for a little over $2500 AND they delivered for free. That was a lot more like it and we gave them the order for delivery in mid-February. That will allow us to get the beds built by spring planting time.