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Constructing a covered raised bed in your garden offers several advantages. It is an effective barrier against various pests, including rabbits and leek moths, and can extend your growing season by providing shade. Additionally, it helps keep your garden bed organized, simplifying the preparation for spring.

Over the past few years, we have been building 1-2 covered beds a year. We combine a simple raised bed frame design with a small tunnel setup.  The equipment is simple, the cost is reasonable, and the rewards are many. 

These covered beds have allowed us to plant salad greens and radishes earlier, protect our broccoli from cabbage moths, and shield our onions from leek moth attacks.

Covered raised beds are also ideal for initially acclimatizing seedlings moved from indoors, shielding them from cold nights or direct sunlight.

The materials for constructing these 16-foot raised beds with covers typically cost between $70 and $80. It takes about one hour to assemble a bed with simple tools.

Supplies

  • (5) 2x6x8 pieces of Garden-Safe Lumber—we used heat-treated wood; do not use pressure-treated in the garden. Hemlock or cedar will last longer, but those can be expensive, so we typically use pine or other varieties for less money.
  • Scrap lumber to assemble the bed – you’ll need 2x4s to connect your bed’s corners and middle pieces.  We always look around for what’s lying about.  If you don’t have scrap wood, one 2x4x8 should give you plenty to work with.  You may also use the extra piece left from cutting down the 2x6x8.
  • (8) 10-foot pieces of 3/4-inch PVC Pipe
  • One package (20 pcs) 3/4 inch Strap Clamp 
  • One 12 ft x 20 ft Garden Fabric or Row Cover – we prefer the summer-weight garden fabric available from Gardener’s Supply.  It’s important you get the right width to fit over the top of your frame with enough extra to be held down on either side.
  • Decking screws (32 1-inch + about 20 2 1/2-inch ) – to attach the strap clamps to the bed and to build the bed itself
  • Optional: (4) 8-ft 4x4s to anchor the fabric on either side. You can choose a variety of anchoring methods. You can bury the edge of the fabric in the soil, use landscape staples, or use extra wood or rocks you have lying around. We like the 4x4s (we had them lying around) because they are nice and heavy to hold down but also fairly easy to roll aside to access the bed.

How to Build a Raised Bed

Step 1: Build the Bed

The simple setup for this bed entails connecting two 2x6x8s for each of the long sides of the bed, then cutting one of those 2x6x8s into 3-foot pieces for the end of the bed.  We suggest outdoor wood screws for attachments. You can use a strip of scrap wood on each side to strengthen the connection in the middle and a chunk of wood in each corner to stabilize the corners.

Step 2: Install the Strap Clamps (optional)

This bed uses eight bent PVC pipes to support the cover.  Thus, we space the strap clamps so that the first PVC pipe on each end is about one foot from the end of the bed, and the clamps are 2 feet apart.  In other words, you’ll attach a strap clamp at 1 foot, 3 feet, 5 feet, etc.  Each strap clamp is attached with two decking screws.

If you don’t want to use clamps, you can also bury the ends of your PVC pipe into the ground. This will be a little less stable but still workable.

Step 3: Insert the PVC Pipes

We’ve measured our beds to fit the 12-foot wide garden fabric, using the full length of the 10 ft. PVC pipe.  If your garden fabric is not as wide, you may have to cut down the pipe for a smaller fit.  Insert the pipe on one side of the bed, bend it, and insert it into the other. 

It should be a fairly snug fit, and the ends should be pressed slightly into the soil so that the arch will not fall to one side (although sometimes the ones on the end will do that naturally, and it doesn’t affect the stability of the cover).

PVC Pipes used to hold garden fabric or row cover on a raised bed

Step 4: Add the Row Cover and Anchor with your chosen material

Now, stretch the row cover over your bed and anchor it with whatever materials you’ve decided to use (in our case, 4×4’s). 

You can also choose to dig one side of the cover into the dirt and anchor it down the other side, but this limits your access to one side of the bed and may make it hard to reach things on the permanently anchored side.

holding row cover or garden fabric down with a 4x4

That’s it!  Now plant your lovely veggies and enjoy the rewards!

We’d love to hear if you try this method and how it works.  Good luck, and happy gardening.

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Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.

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2 Comments

  1. Your pictures are nice. I guess when I hear “raised beds” I think of something 18 inches or more tall…..seeing your ‘raised’ bed only a few inches off the ground seems odd.
    But your pictures say it all for directions…thank you for this post!

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