How to build and plant a wooden raised bed

How to build a raised bed

A DIY raised garden bed is perfect for growing your own edible crops! Our instructions tell you how to build it, and give planting advice too.


The special joy of gardening in a wooden raised bed that you build yourself


Building a raised garden bed from wood is a satisfying project to tackle, and you’ll appreciate the results for many seasons to come. And what distinguishes a good gardener from a really good gardener? Knowing how to grow vegetables properly. To help you get there, our instructions for how to build a rustic raised garden bed are followed by some suggestions for planting. We’ve also put together important safety advice to bear in mind.


How to build your own wooden raised bed


Preparation: tools and materials


You will need the following tools and materials to build a raised garden bed from wood:

  • Logs
  • A chainsaw, e.g. STIHL MS 170
  • Sawhorse (optional)
  • Tensioning belt
  • Metre rule
  • Chalk/pencil for marking
  • Wire mesh
  • Wood screws

STIHL professional tip: The diameter of the wooden trunks you need depends on the size of raised bed you want to build: the taller the raised bed you’re planning, the thicker the logs should be. Thicker wood generally ensures better stability for the structure; please also note that it will require longer screws.


Preparation: selecting the right materials


When choosing what timber to build your raised garden beds from, opt for robust, hard woods such as Douglas fir, larch or robinia; soft woods such as birch, poplar and alder are not suitable. It is also advisable to remove the bark from the logs before you build the raised bed; this is because the bark weathers faster than the wood itself, so your bed could start looking tatty before its time.

Close-up of a STIHL felling lever holding a tree trunk on the forest floor


Preparation: planning your raised garden bed


Garden, terrace, or balcony: consider the location of your raised bed before you start to build it. To use the bed effectively, you should be able to easily access all sides of it. We recommend a maximum width of 140–160 cm for a free-standing bed and 70–80 cm if you build a non-free-standing bed. The recommended working height is around 70 to 100 cm depending on the user’s height. Remember to check that there are no tall plants nearby, as these will cast shade on your raised bed, which is not great for growing. Once you have found the right location, you can start to build your raised bed.


Step 1: split the wood lengthways


Wooden trunks will form the side walls of your raised bed, and the first step is to split them with a chainsaw. The taller you plan to build the bed, the more pieces of wood you will need to split lengthways. Sawing through the trunks requires precision and is no simple task – here are some tips to help you manage it with ease.

  • Mark where the chainsaw needs to cut along the faces and long sides of the wood.
  • With the trunk on the floor, cut vertically with your chainsaw, to halfway through. Cut along the marked line in this way.
  • Turn the wood over and repeat the vertical cut from the other side to the centre, so it meets your first cut.

Caution: When sawing, please be sure to prevent the guide bar from accidentally hitting the ground. If necessary, use a felling lever to raise the log up. Important: You must secure the log, using wedges for example, to ensure that it does not accidentally roll away while you are sawing.

Once the wood to build the sides of your raised bed is ready, it’s time to move on to the next step: making the corner pillars and cutting the split logs to length.


Step 2: cut the corner pillars and sides


You will use four corner pillars to build your wooden raised bed, and these are simply made from pieces that haven’t been split. Cut the pillars to the required build height – a sawhorse is useful for this. Where possible, it’s not a bad idea to set these four pillars into the ground for better stability; if you wish to do this, add 10 cm to the length.

STIHL professional tip: Add together the diameters of the logs you have already split. The sum of these measurements will be the height of the raised bed you build, and as such also the length you need the corner pillars to be.

Take the pieces you’ve already split and cut them to the right length for the sides, until you have enough cut pieces to build to your desired bed height. Take care not to make them too short here; excess material can be sawn off later so that the surfaces of your raised garden bed are flush. Now you have all the materials ready to build your wooden raised bed. The next step concentrates on making sure your bed stands securely.


Step 3: build the foundation


It takes just a few simple steps to build a foundation for your raised bed. 

  • Put the corner pillars in place and set them into the ground if possible.
  • Use fine-meshed wire to line the area you have marked out – this is to prevent unwanted rodents and other visitors making their way from below into the bed you build.
  • Set out the first, lowest row of split logs with the flat side facing inwards. Screw these to the corner pillars, in each case driving the screws from the outer side, through the wall material, and into the pillar.

STIHL professional tip: Use the widest pieces of timber to build this bottom row.

Now that your foundation is in place, you need to build the walls by stacking logs to the same height as the corner pillars. You can find out how in the next step.


Step 4: assemble the sides


The foundation of your wooden raised bed is built, so now all you need to do is assemble the sides. Stack the split logs up to build the side walls, starting with the thickest. Alternate the orientation of the wood as you build, for a uniform structure: log base on the left, tip on the right, then vice versa. Screw the ends of each piece of wood to the corner pillars to secure. Once you have finished this, you can move on to the precision work for your raised bed.


Step 5: add finishing touches


Once you have built your raised bed to the desired height, saw off protruding logs and edges so they are flush and tidy. You can also use the chainsaw to round off the corners – not only does this look better, but it reduces the risk of injuring people as they walk past.


Planting raised garden beds: which crops to choose


The build is done, so now your wooden raised bed is ready to be filled and used. We hope you enjoy planting it and that you are rewarded with a bumper harvest! To give you some inspiration and guidance, we have put together a seasonal guide to what kitchen crops you could grow in your rustic raised beds.




Crisp spring vegetables and herbs can be planted in your bed from March: radishes, rocket, and leaf lettuce are all suitable for planting in the spring and will be ready to harvest by summer. Spinach can also be planted now.

A little later, around the end of April, you can plant spring onions, other onions and leeks.

If you leave a little extra space, you can also plant peppers and chillies from May. If you build multiple raised beds, you might include courgettes or summer squash, which are a good growing choice but need a lot of space: we recommend leaving 1 metre in all directions between plants. If you plan to grow tomatoes in your raised bed, compact bush varieties are ideal.

Close-up of onions and garlic in a garden bed




Is your raised bed planned for growing summer vegetables? June to July is when the veggie superstars go in: potatoes, kohlrabi and carrots can all be planted at this time of year.

By August, you can put in tasty autumn salad crops such as radicchio or endive.

Muddy carrots, a green squash and potatoes on a garden table with a hat and gloves beside them




Once you build a raised bed you can certainly keep it producing into autumn. If you like rocket, now is the time to replenish your crop; use September and October for a second sowing.

A variety of green vegetable plants in the foreground and close-up, with a blue wooden garden building in the background




You can protect your wooden raised bed over winter by covering it with a tarpaulin. But there are actually vegetables that you can keep in raised beds over the winter: chard and spinach like the cold. Both vegetables are planted in summer and harvested in winter.

You may choose to give your raised bed a break for the winter. If you do, first top up the raised bed with potting compost, as the soil level subsides by around 10 cm each year. Then it will be ready to plant again in the spring.

Bon appetit!

Close-up of colourful chard stems and green leaves


Always keep safety in mind as you build your own wooden raised bed


You must always take appropriate precautions when using a chainsaw. Wear safety glasses or face protection and use some form of personal noise protection, e.g. ear defenders. Hands, legs, and feet should be protected by robust work gloves, cut protection trousers, and boots with cut protection inserts. 

Head and shoulders of a man wearing protective clothing and a STIHL helmet set with face protection

Summary: How to build your own wooden raised bed

  • Choose a weather-resistant hardwood when building a wooden raised bed
  • Split logs lengthways; you will use these for the sides of your raised bed
  • Next, cut pieces of wood for the corner pillars of your raised bed, to the height you want
  • Build a foundation to ensure that no unwanted intruders can visit your raised bed from below
  • Mount the split logs between the corner pillars
  • After a few finishing touches, your DIY raised garden bed is ready!


How do you make a raised bed?

To make a raised bed you first use upright logs to create the corner structures, then long, split logs are connected to these and stacked up to form walls for the raised bed. It requires a chainsaw, screws, timber and some time, and makes a great DIY project.

How do you fill raised beds?

How you fill raised beds depends on the ground beneath them: if your beds are on a solid surface, start with 10cm of coarse gravel; if they are directly on soil there is no need. Then fill with a mixture of topsoil and compost or manure. This provides a rich and well-structured medium for growing.

How deep should raised beds be?

How deep raised beds should be is dependent on the height and requirements of the user; ideal working height is 70 to 100cm, and plants need a minimum soil depth of around 30 cm. The diameter of the logs you use for the sides will also be decisive here.

How do you build a raised garden bed out of wood?

You can build a raised garden bed out of wood by building a simple structure with hardwood logs. Whole logs are fixed upright to form corner pillars, and rows of long split logs are attached to these with screws. The result is a rustic garden bed that suits your space perfectly.