Approximate Project Cost can be anywhere from free to $100 per bed. Here is a detailed cost breakdown based on Lowes pricing in 16066 and bolts from Tractor Supply (by weight) http://bit.ly/H8tdh5
UPDATE (2014) -
Note: the above pricing is based on my original design. You can save a TON of money by using 2x3 studs and painting them. You can save even more by using reclaimed lumber for free from craigslist.
You can save signifcant amounts of money using a "bagster" disposable dumpster available at Lowes or Home Depot for $30.
After you nail the bagster garden to your frame take a box cutter or other sharp knife and cut the bottom out of it so that it has direct contact with the ground. (outlined in the bagster step)
My garden beds are a combination of a few things I like.
1- would be raised bed gardening and in particular square foot gardening
2- Hugelkultur - this is a technique where wood is buried inside of the garden bed which greatly reduces and even can eliminate the need for irrigation. Don't take my word for it... read this, and listen to this and this For the purposes of this instruct-able I'll ask you to suspend your disbelief and lets just assume your on board with hugelkultur. If you want to debate it take it up with Paul or Jack.
Update (2014) - I never water these gardens and tomatoes and peppers and everything else grows just fine.
Tools I used
Pipe clamps (not 100% required)
Miter Saw (can use circular saw for all cuts, but it makes it easier)
Carpenter's Pencil or Sharpie
Mattock (not required but suggested)
Kreg Jig - I used the Jr. version
I owned a Kreg Jig so that is what i used. If you do not want to buy a jig simply use 3" deck screws. Be sure to pre-drill each and every hole to prevent the wood from splitting.
3" 5/26 galvanized lag bolts Quantity: 12
5/16 lock washers Quantity: 12
Plastic cap roofing nails: 50 to 100
Plastic cap roofing nails work best for Ondura or the
If using galvanized roofing please let me know what fastener you used in the comments.:
Materials to cover your garden with:
Ondura Corrugated Roofing Sheet ** Quantity: 2
Galvanized roofing. The Ondura is on it's 3rd season and still working, but it is showing signs of wear. I suspect metal roofing would be more durable
Break down pallets to sheet the frame. I would put the frame in it's final destination first. I would line the inside with plastic sheeting or tarp first before filling which will make it last a lot longer. Used plastic cap roofing nails.
Reclaimed materials from the local dump or craigslist. Any type of plastic or metal sheets, plywood etc. If you are using wood I would coat the inside with tarp or plastic and paint the outside with exterior grade paint.
Pressure Treated 8' 2x4 lumber* Quantity: 9 Update (2014) - Add 2 additional (approximately) 2x4s
Paint the outside of the beds after they are installed.
Idea #2 Reclaimed wood from craigslist or construction projects. This is what i used for my bagster garden. I stained them with a fence stain after they were assembled. I manually removed all the nails with a simple hammer.
If you want to save some time you can buzz everything off with an angle grinder.
Idea #3 Untreated 2x3 studs. These are $1.80 each. If you are using the bagster garden I think these would be ideal. For best results paint or stain the frame prior to installation of the bagster garden. This would bring down the price of the garden to a significant degree.
2.5" Kreg Screws Quantity: 56
Update: If not using the kreg jig get 3" deck screws and make sure you have a drill bit to predrill all the holes.
Note: I would suggest getting your bolts at a place that sells them by weight such as tractor supply. It will end up being a lot cheaper.
Cut List for 2x4s (or 2x3s)
8' (note does not require cut) Quantity: 4
4' Quantity: 4
17.5" Quantity: 14 Update (2014) - +8 additional supports.
* My research indicates that current, modern, pressure treated lumber is safe for use in the garden. Please do your own research and present facts rather than flames should you choose to comment on this material. A more expensive alternative would be cedar or redwood.
Please before you spout off about "arsenic" in the comments be aware that ACQ treated lumber does not contain this substance!
**Ondura is light, easy to work with and cheap. However if you are uncomfortable with plastic in your garden you can use traditional metal roofing for this project
I suggest using a miter saw if you own one, however a circular saw is fine or even a manual cross cut saw will get the job done. Cut all the 2x4s and make a stack of each type by cut
Cut List for 2x4s
8' (note does not require cut) Quantity: 4
4' Quantity: 4
17.5" Quantity: 14 (update (2014) + 8 additional)
If not using a kreg jig please proceed to next step
Drill all of your pocket holes.
You will need 10 pocket holes (5 sets of 2) in each 8' board
You will need 4 pocket holes (2 sets of 2) in each 4' board
Update (2014) - I would add a minimum of 2 additional 17.5" supports to each side (total of 8 supports). Just evenly space them.
First mark your boards where the edges of your 17.5" supports will be with a pencil or sharpie. Refer to the photo for the approximate dimensions. You don't need CNC machine precision here. Just make the middle support centered and the other 2 supports should have a 10 3/4" gap from the edge.
The 10 3/4" gap is significant. The ondura sheets are shy of 8' long so one of these supports will cover your overlap and hide the seem. The one on the other side exists for symmetry in addition to support.
The Kreg Jr. Jig comes with an instruction manual which should be adequate, however watching this video should give you an idea of what is involved:
If using a kreg jig skip this step.
Use the spacing from the previous step for stud placement. Note that the new design calls for 2 additional supports per side. Just evenly space them.
Predrill each hole to prevent splitting. Simply drive the screws in from above
Lay your 2x4s out on a level surface.
If your 2x4s are bowed you can clamp them using some long clamps such as pipe clamps to hold them in position.
Drive your 2.5" kreg screws into the 17.5" supports.
You should now have finished panels ready to accept Ondura sheeting.
Use a bagster dumpster or galvanized roofing panels.The Ondura works, but requires more bracing than the original plan allowed for for sure.
Please bear in mind that the side with the exposed pocket holes should face inward (so that the joints are hidden)
If you are using a bagster dumpster skip this step
Cutting ondura is easy enough with a circular saw and a rough measurement. Make sure the hump faces up when you are ripping it. Refer to the first drawing
To do your cross-cuts you will have to readjust your blade height.
I would advise you to cut it outside on some saw horses. Adjust your circular saw to the minimum depth required. There is no need to make sure the cut is perfectly square as the edges are not going to be exposed in the final product. Just eyeball it.
Rip both sheets lengthwise at 24"
You should now have 4 approximately 7' long sheets of ondura.
You want to leave a minimum of 2.5" of exposure on the end of each panel. Refer to the second drawing
Measure your 4x3 panel 2.5" in from both sides. Cut 2 pieces to fit this width
Cut one of your scrap pieces in half. You will use one these to fill the gap on the end of each of your 8' sides.
Note: If you are using a bagster dumpster skip this step
On a flat surface face your pocket holes up. Lay your roofing material down on the frames. If your edges overhang make sure that they only overhang on one side. This can be the side that rests in the soil. You do not want exposed roofing edges.
Drive galvanized roofing nails liberally to secure the roofing material to the frames.
Update: Make sure to use the roofing nails that have the plastic caps! (see the photo I added)
A finished 2x4 frame should look like the one in the first photo. I don't think it matters which side you face out. I chose to face the black side out, however ondura comes in a variety of colors and you might wish to face the color side out.
I had roofing nails left over from another project and used both the standard nails and the ones with the plastic caps. I found the plastic cap nails to conform nicely to the curves of the ondura. Overall I liked using those better than the standard ones.
The second photo illustrates a completed bed.. you can see the roofing nails in it. I tried to space them fairly evenly.
You should do this on a flat, level surface such as a driveway, deck, or patio.
Hold one side up to another. It helps to have a partner hold them together or in my case I used some quick clamps as an extra set of hands.
Pre-drill a lag screw hole in the top 2x4 and drive in a 3" lag screw with your socket wrench. Make sure the tops are flush before drilling!
Drill a second hole in the middle (eyeball it) and drive a 3" lag screw there
Finally drill a hole in the bottom and drive a 3" lag screw there
You will be using a total of 12 3" lag screws to bolt all 4 frames together. There should be 6 bolts on each side
The photo shows what it should look like
These are pretty heavy, so assemble this as close to where it will go as possible.
After you bolt your raised bed together you can put your bagster garden in it.
After assembling, placing your garden to it's final position and leveling it you are ready to sheet it with reclaimed wood or pallet wood.
I would recommend first painting it with an exterior grade paint.
After you have painted it then cover it with a vapor barrier such as a plastic drop cloth or cheap tarps from harbor freight.
Attach these using plastic cap nails. Paint the entire garden frame for best results.
Fill your beds about 1/2 way or more with a variety of woods. I used maple logs and apple/pear wood since that was what i had available on my property. You need to leave between 6 to 12 inches for root growth.
I first layered the bottom with the largest logs, second I placed much smaller branches all around.
If you have leaves you can put down a thick layer of leaves here. You can also scoop in any excess dirt from leveling the beds on top at this point if it was left around the edges.
If you want an even greater effect you can dig out the bottom of the bed to make room for more wood, that's up to you and how ambitious you want to get.
The photo shows my beds awaiting soil.