Snazzy and Stylish Steel Raised Garden Beds

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Introduction: Snazzy and Stylish Steel Raised Garden Beds

About: Gardener, Maker, Cat Dad, Sci-Fi nerd, hiker and project juggler. I love making things that solve day to day problems, add visual appeal to a space, or just for the fun of it!

This Instructable shows you how to make some steel raised garden beds. My sweetie found something similar on Pinterest with zero explanation or links so I decided to reverse engineer the idea, make it a bit more solid construction-wise and give it an attractive (and somewhat safer) finish.

Supplies:

Tools:

  • Impact Drill; and 1/4" bit (unless you want to install nearly 100 roofing screws by hand?)
  • Tin Snips; (I've heard of some folks using a circular saw with a metal cutting blade for roofing sheets, that's fine too, but will likely be loud a heck. Please wear ear and eye protection if you go that route)
  • Saw; capable of cutting 4x4 lumber
  • Square; if you're going to do it, do it right. Make sure your lines, and corner are straight
  • Measuring implement; so you can cut straight
  • Marking implement; so you can mark where to cut/mount/create neat designs, scribble quick notes on your forearm, mark your helper, etc. (I used a black permanent marker)
  • Level; to ensure your beautiful new garden beds are level so you don't spill the drinks you put on the rails (I used a 36" spirit level)
  • Gloves; to protect your fingers! Metal roofing can be SHARP, especially after cutting. Don't go all cavalier here, metal cuts suck and generally require a trip to the doc if you can't remember when your last tetanus shot was... Not that that happened to me... I mean I love hanging out with the lovely folks at the local clinic and all but a good slice can totally slow down the progress of your day, and that booster really hurts... like that dull kinda "I got hit by a baseball bat but somehow there isn't a bruise" kinda hurts... but I totally didn't cut myself on a piece of metal roofing doing THIS exact set of beds... now the previous? yeah, I cut the heck out of myself. Seriously people, ALWAYS wear your PPE!

Components:

For this instructable I gathered the following:

x1 - box self-sealing 1/4" head 1.5" long roofing screws (~100)

x5 - 8' Length Steel corrugated roofing panels

x5 - 8' Length Composite Decking (I used brown, feel free to use any color you want)

x4 - 10' 4x4 Lumber (you /can/ use 8', but you'll be minus a supporting post. I don't recommend this)

Optional but recommended:

x4 - 8' 1x6 cedar board (You can use scrap lumber too) This will live under the soil once you add it. These boards really just keep the bed from flopping about while you move it to final position if you haven't installed the decking yet.

Rotary tool or file for the metal edges. Those suckers are SHARP. We'll be covering them with our decking, but if you want to be extra careful, flatten out those cut edges. They're like serrated knives.. and I mean... do you REALLY want to have to visit the local clinic? The people are nice and all, but it's really a bother if you're trying to get something done.

Miter Saw. Miter Saw for the decking to get those 45 degree angels JUST RIGHT. If you're good with a saw or don't have a miter saw you can totally pull off the cut.. but a miter saw will make your life a little easier.

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Step 1: Step 1: Gather Those Tools and Materials and Setup Your Work Area

In this case I'm building these lovely beds at my folks' place. They already had a small garden space, but bending, amending and overall breaking one's back in the clay that is the soil where they live was becoming untenable. Living only 40 minutes up the road, I'd solutioned with raised beds, they loved the idea and I decided to document my build of theirs. Here goes!

Get your tools together. Make sure your batteries are charged (if applicable) you know where everything is, and you have a helper on hand. Make sure you have your gloves.

No seriously. Put your dang gloves on!

Step 2: Step 2: Measure and Then... Cut Stuff!

The roofing panels work out to be 2.16' wide; MEASURE and mark your 4x4 into as many 2.16' pieces as you can (if you're using an 8' 4x4 you should get 3, if you're using a 10' you should get 4.. and so on) In the case of this instructable and the pictures you're going to see, I used 4 10' 4x4s, so I got 4 good pieces out of each.

Cut the 4x4 lengths.. Get those cut (are you wearing your eye and ear protection?), sweep away the sawdust and...
MEASURE and mark one of your roofing panels into 2' pieces. You should get 4. Be sure to use your square to make sure you get a straight line to cut along.

Put your Gloves back on and grab those tin snips!
Cut the 2' width pieces of roofing panel.

Leave the other 4 roofing panels alone. They're already 8' long.

Optional but recommended; Get your files or rotary tool out and smooth out the edges of the roofing panel you just cut.

Step 3: Step 3: Screw It Up!

Align the roofing panel on the 4x4s and start screwing them together: Similar to roofing, screw into the low points. Again, life is a LOT easier with an impact. If you don't feel like saying "huh" a lot a few years down the road, please consider ear protection.

Step 4: Step 4: the Fun Part!

It really helps to have an assistant for this part...

Put one of the 2' ends approximately where you want the bed to be. In this case I leaned it against a lattice "fence".
Get the other end and put it approximately where you want the bed to be. You can have your assistant hold it up for you.

Place one of the 8' Steel Roofing pieces on the inside (The idea here is to keep the in this case pressure treated lumber from contacting the garden soil... supposedly it's safe, but hey why not? Plus it's going to look cool. I promise!)

Screw the 8' piece to the 2' structure. Do this just like how you did the 2' pieces (see pictures)

Repeat for the other side.

Step 5: Optional Step: Reinforce It!

For this step, which is highly recommended, grab that cedar (or scrap wood) and build an internal frame for the beds. This helps to keep them from "blobbing out" when you fill them with soil. Bonus? You can use the top line of the cedar or scrap to help gauge how deep to fill your soil when you add it.

Step 6: Finish and Dress It Up!

Remember those other pieces of 4x4? Install the remaining 4x4 equally along the Steel. IF you took the optional step of adding a reinforcement this will be a LOT easier.

Now, get your miter saw or by hand cut your decking at 45 degree angles (8' and 2') and install along the top, securing it to the 4x4s.

Step 7: Fill Your New Beds With Soil

Fill your new raised garden beds with soil! In this case I didn't fill them to the very top as that was what my folks requested. They're now ready for planting with whatever you want.

Step 8: Enjoy Your New Beds!

Here we are back at my place as I didn't get any pictures of my folks' garden after they planted. My beds are 6'x2'. In the case of my beds, I used 3 8' roofing panels and 2 4x4s to make them. Adjust the instructions as needed to accomplish this.

I built the beds you see here in 2015. It's 2020 now and they're still looking and working GREAT! The pictures you see here are the beds throughout the seasons from 2 spring plantings and just past a late summer harvest. (those poor marigolds didn't make it that year..).

Let me know in the comments how your beds came out. Good luck and happy building and planting!

1 Person Made This Project!

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10 Discussions

0
erikson52
erikson52

5 weeks ago

What gauge is the roofing you used? Thanks!

0
Gadisha
Gadisha

5 weeks ago

This is a good idea, thanks for the inspiration :)

0
t0max
t0max

Reply 5 weeks ago

Thanks! Hope you get a chance to make some. Cheers,

0
ScottR165
ScottR165

6 weeks ago

Are you using the stacks of bricks and cinder blocks to prevent the bottom from bulging?

Could you put trees in these do you think? We have fence high limitations, but I could raise up trees instead of waiting for them to grow that would be great!

0
ScottR165
ScottR165

Reply 6 weeks ago

Haha - never mind - I see your answer to someone else. I am curious about the tree potentials. BTW - I'm also in Maryland.

0
t0max
t0max

Reply 6 weeks ago

Thanks ScottR165, Cheers to the Free State and Greetings from Frederick!

...and yup, the bricks and blocks are "just there" because I couldn't think of a better place to put them in the yard at the time. Haha

Assuming you mean 'fence high' as a minimum for a new tree? Depending on the type of tree, I'd highly recommend a big pot or planter for a couple reasons:

1: I'd be worried about a taproot penetrating to the ground below, unless it's right where you want the tree (repositioning later). For instance the PawPaw (a great fruit tree native to Maryland) has a 3' taproot after the first year. A rule of thumb an arborist buddy of mine taught me was that "a tree is at LEAST as big underground as it is above ground". Fence high assuming a 4" fence would be way bigger than what these 2' high beds can do.
2: Full of soil, these are nearly impossible to move without completely digging them out and disassembling them, or with mechanical assistance (fork lift?).. which would likely kill a tree and also likely get soil all over the place. (8'x2'x2' bed is 32 cubic feet of soil.. that's a LOT)
3: You can kinda "tip"/"roll" a pot around or put it on wheels first.. so you can grow the tree in the pot, move it to position then plant accordingly.

That all said, you might be able to plant your tree then put an un-filled structure like this around it to protect it and make it look like a shrub for a year or few, then carefully disassemble it when you got to requisite height?

Now if 'fence high' is a maximum that's a whole other ball game. I'd recommend getting a bunch of dwarf root stock trees and keeping them well pruned, and/or experimenting with Espalier techniques. There's some really cool stuff out there for that.

Good luck!

0
IdaHoagie
IdaHoagie

Question 6 weeks ago

I've been looking at different raised bed ideas for our garden in the Idaho Panhandle. These look simple and inexpensive to build. One question: do the bricks stacked around the base of your beds serve a purpose to the beds? Or are they just there? Thank you.

1
t0max
t0max

Answer 6 weeks ago

Thanks BrianH94, It takes about 45-mins to an hour to do the build if you have all your materials and tools together and an assistant. The longest part is getting all the roofing screws set right, but you can find your groove pretty quick after the first couple. Without an assistant for the long sides, it takes about an hour and 15 or so balancing the structure and trying to keep things level while assembling. Total cost for 2 beds with the parts breakout I gave above was less than $120 in Maryland at my local big box home store.

The bricks are indeed "just there" because I didn't have a better place to put them. The Cinderblocks are repurposed into planters for annuals. They also are "just there". In a previous raised bed generation they were also "just there" too. (see picture) I really should do something with them. Perhaps that will be in a future instructable.

IMG_2844.jpeg
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jessyratfink
jessyratfink

6 weeks ago

These look fantastic!

0
t0max
t0max

Reply 6 weeks ago

Thanks so much! They're a blast to make and even more fun to harvest goodies out of year after year. Cheers!