Use these tiered raised garden bed plans and the free PDF to build a garden in an afternoon! Fill the box with soil then plant your vegetables and flowers!
I’ve been thinking about building a tiered raised garden bed forever. So it was the perfect time to finally design the plans when my friend Linda told me she wanted to start a garden.
I built the tiered raised garden bed in my workshop with wood and a few simple tools. Then I brought the DIY garden bed to her house where we filled it with soil. She finished up by planting the tiered garden bed with her favorite veggies like tomatoes, salad greens and more.
Originally published August 26, 2015 updated April 30, 2019
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What is a Tiered Raised Garden Bed?
Instead of planting vegetables directly in the ground, a tiered raised garden bed lifts the soil above the ground. Lifting or raising the planting area makes it easier to reach the veggies.
Walking frequently through a garden planted in the ground compacts the soil. A tiered raised garden bed prevents the soil from being compacted which helps to improve drainage. It also makes weeding easier because the tiered garden bed separates the surrounding grass from the soil.
How Do You Build a Tiered Raised Garden Bed?
There are several materials we can use to build a tiered raised garden bed. Popular choices include wood or cinder blocks. Cinder blocks can sometimes shift when used for building raised beds. Weeds can grow in between the blocks when they move apart. And depending on the setting and the way they’re used, cinder blocks can sometimes look a little industrial.
Wood is my personal choice for building a tiered garden bed. I think wood is beautiful and I like the contrast of wood against the green grass. Plus, I can cut the wood to make the garden box the exact size I want it.
What Kind of Wood Should be Used for a Tiered Raised Garden Bed?
I think the best wood for a tiered raised garden bed is cedar. We can also build our raised beds with any other nontoxic, rot-resistant wood.
Personally, I would avoid using pressure treated wood to build a DIY garden bed. Chemicals are used to make pressure treated wood rot resistant. I would be concerned about those chemicals seeping into the soil and into the veggies.
Tip: Please be careful when working with cedar. Some people (like yours truly) are allergic to cedar dust. Always wear a dust mask or respirator when cutting any wood.
Tiered Raised Garden Bed Corners
I have a little pet peeve about many tiered garden beds. Many DIY garden beds use a corner post to connect the sides and that post usually sits inside the box. I know they don’t take up much space, but it’s space that could be used for growing. Plus, to me, corner posts attached to the inside of the box aren’t very attractive.
These tiered raised garden bed plans place the posts on the outside of the bed. Moving the corners to the outside allowed me to add another board which gives the raised bed a tiered effect. This lower tier isn’t very deep or wide, but it would be great for planting Marigolds, salad greens, herbs, etc.
Moving the corners to the outside of the box is functional and decorative.
What Size Tiered Raised Garden Bed Do I Need?
While other kids were playing video games, I was at home watching Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening show on PBS. Yup, I always was a strange kid, and probably to most, a strange adult!
Are you familiar with Square Foot Gardening? Using Mel’s method, plants are spaced in a 12″ x 12″ area to maximize the space in the garden. For instance, you can plant 16 beets in a square foot garden as opposed to a long row that takes up a lot more space.
These tiered raised garden bed plans were inspired by the Square Foot Gardening method. The interior of the box measures 36” x 36” for a total of 9 square feet. And that doesn’t include the planting area in the lower tier.
I made two DIY raised garden beds for Linda which means in those 18 square feet she could plant 16 beets, 4 broccoli plants, 16 carrots, 4 cauliflower plants, 4 leaf lettuce plants, 16 onions, 4 pepper plants, 16 radishes, and 9 spinach plants.
That’s a lot of food! But we could always build more tiered garden beds if she needed more space.
What Can You Plant in a Tiered Raised Garden Bed?
Just about anything can be planted in a raised bed garden. We can plant vegetables like beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, onions, peppers, radishes, spinach, tomatoes and more.
We can also plant herbs like basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley and more.
And of course, flowers can be planted in raised beds too.
What Should I Line My Tiered Raised Garden Bed With?
I wanted the tiered garden bed to be easy for Linda to install. Which meant no digging.
Here’s how we made this a no-dig installation. First, we cut the grass as short as we could. Then we lined the bottom of the box with about eight layers of newspaper and placed the DIY garden bed on top.
The newspaper will prevent the grass from growing into the tiered raised garden bed and will breakdown over time.
What Soil Should You Put in a Tiered Raised Garden Bed?
We filled the tiered garden bed with some organic soil that we got from the local big box store but you can also purchase soil online and have it sent to your home.
Steps for Setting Up a Tiered Raised Garden Bed
- Build the DIY garden bed with wood and simple tools
- Choose a sunny location for the tiered garden bed
- Line the bottom of the box with newspaper
- Fill the tiers with organic soil
- Plant the tiered garden bed with vegetables
- Water as needed and add nutrients with an organic fertilizer
- Enjoy the harvest!
Where Can I Buy a Tiered Raised Garden Bed?
What if you don’t have the tools or time to build a garden bed? Here a few options for store-bought tiered garden beds that you can have shipped to your home.
Before we get into how to build a tiered raised garden bed, be sure to click the subscribe button at the bottom of this page to sign up for my FREE weekly newsletter loaded with helpful pocket hole tricks, space-saving workshop ideas, clever DIY tips and more!
Be sure you have your soil, seeds, and plants on hand because this goes together quick!
Tiered Raised Garden Bed Plans
Click here to get a free PDF of the plans
(2) 1x8x8 Cedar
(2) 1x4x8 Cedar
(1) 4x4x8 Cedar
1-1/4″ Exterior Screws
Step 1. Cut the Sides
Cut 4 pieces of 1×8 to 44-1/2″.
The sides are connected with slots. The slots will slide together to make the raised bed frame. I marked the locations of the slots with my Kreg Multi-Mark. I measured in from each end 4-1/4″ and 3-1/2″ and then measured up 3-3/4″.
I used a ¾” Forstner Bit to drill a hole at the end of the slot. Then I used a jig saw with a speed square to cut along the lines up to the hole. I also used the jig saw to make the corners square.
Step 2. Cut the Posts
Cut 4 pieces of 4×4 to 9″ long. Measure up 8″ on each side. Cut a 45-degree angle at the 8″ mark.
Step 3. Assemble the Garden Bed
Set two boards on your workbench with the slots facing up. Then slide the other two sides into the slots to form a box.
Set the posts in the corners and clamp. Use a countersink bit to drill holes in the ends of the boards. Attach the posts with 1-1/4″ screws.
Step 4. Attach the Lower Tier
Cut 4 pieces of 1×4 to 44″. Measure 1/4″ on the top end of each board and cut a 32-degree angle.
Drill countersink holes on each end, center on the box (this piece sets in about 1/4″ on each side) and attach using 1-1/4″ screws.
Step 5. Finish the Tiered Raised Garden Bed
Build a do it yourself tiered raised garden bed with these free plans! Fill the wood box with soil then plant with your favorite veggies like tomatoes, salad greens, herbs and more. Then enjoy your harvest!
Thank you for stopping by. If you found this information helpful, would you please pin it to Pinterest? Other DIYers would appreciate it and I would too! Thank you – Scott