looking down at vibrant basil and marigold plants growing in a raised garden bed

Building Raised Garden Beds in Our Backyard

Our first home improvement project

After we moved to Idaho, settled in, and welcomed our second child, it was spring. Spring: a time of green shoots and tiny buds, damp earth and the smell of compost.

I ambitiously started seeds in March and April. We received a generous gift of gardening supplies from my grandmother, who was no longer gardening—two 4x4-ft wooden garden boxes, three 4x2-ft wooden garden boxes (one on stilts!), 1x6-ft and 1x4-ft garden boxes, a bunch of plastic planting containers, PVC-and-netting covers for the lot (to protect plants from deer and other wildlife, which was necessary at my grandmother's house), and an assortment of tomato cages.

We mapped out our yard. Where could we put garden beds? How many square feet could we get away with, while leaving most of the existing landscaping and keeping enough space for the kids to play? Where would be good locations for the garden boxes we had been gifted? How many garden beds did we want to build?

Our yard had four existing garden bed sites, each full of weeds with a short wooden edge around it. We took those out—the wood was rotting and we wanted raised beds. We planned to build three new beds: one 14x4, one 14x3, and one 12x2 along the fence. When combined with the beds and containers from my grandmother, we would have around 200 square feet of garden space.

Randy lifts a corner of a wooden garden box frame, pulling it out of a weed-strewn area by a fence, while our 2-year-old watches
Pulling out the old, weed-filled, decaying garden beds.

Next was a trip to the hardware store. We got a bunch of pressure treated 2x6s and 1x1s, deck screws, L-brackets, and so forth. The plan was to stack two layers of 2x6 for a height close to 12”. The 1x1s were to secure the corners. We borrowed a miter saw.

truck bed loaded with pvc pipes and 2x6 planks
Heading home from the hardware store!
Randy standing on a deck in the sun next to a miter saw on a sawhorse loaded with a 2x6 plank of wood
Randy cuts the wood to size.

Randy did most of the construction work, with help from our then-2-year-old. Lots of sawing, drilling, etc.

our 2-year-old using a plastic saw to try to cut wood on our back deck
Our 2-year-old helped cut the wood with his toy saw.
2x6 pieces of wood stacked and arranged on the deck into the shape of a rectangular garden bed, ready to be screwed together
Laying out the garden beds, ready to be screwed together.

We moved dirt around to make the ground level and finished assembly.

Randy with a big shovel standing next to our 2-year-old with a small shovel, moving dirt in the backyard
Making the ground level.
Jacqueline, wearing her baby in a woven rainbow wrap, stands in a backyard with a shovel and work gloves
I helped, with baby in tow.
Randy and Elian screwing boards together for raised garden beds
Randy assembles the garden beds, while Elian supervises.

The beds were in! Next, we needed to fill them. We had a local landscaping company dump six cubic yards of a 50% soil, 50% compost mix on our driveway. With a wagon, shovels, and some elbow grease, we filled our garden beds. Ready for planting!

Our two-year-old in a bee hat spreading dirt in the garden bed with a small rake
Elian helps spread out the soil.

We also made PVC-and-netting covers for the beds to keep birds, children, and any other local wildlife out. We didn't know whether the covers would be necessary in our yard—it's enclosed and we're in town, so we don't have to keep deer out. We do have a small population of quail. We figured it wouldn't hurt to have the barrier.

garden bed by a fence with pvc posts in it to hold up netting
Getting the PVC in, ready for the netting.
two long garden beds with tomato plants in them and a pvc-and-netting cover over the top
After transplanting the tomatoes!

And how did the garden grow? Stay tuned—that's my next topic!

sun setting on a hill of red sand in the Sahara Desert

How to Practice Self-Denial—and What You'll Gain By Doing So

Human desires are insatiable. But if we do the counterintuitive—practice self-denial instead of giving in to those desires—we build virtue, gain freedom, and step closer to the eternal.
silhouette of a person with arms outstretched in front of the setting sun

Planning for Success: How Effort Makes Good Luck More Likely

Don't wait for success to happen to you. Make your own good luck—put in the elbow grease to make success more likely!

Join our community!

Did you know a group of owls is called a parliament?


We're Jacqueline and Randy, a blogging duo with backgrounds in tech, robots, art, and writing, now raising our family in northern Idaho.

Our goal is to encourage deliberate choices, individual responsibility, and lifelong curiosity by sharing stories about our adventures in living, loving, and learning.

Learn more about us.



Start here

Curious about our life and journey? Here are some good places to start reading:

Jacqueline and Randy leaning their heads together smiling at the camera

A Blog About Education, Lifestyles, and Community

A brief history of how the Deliberate Owl came to be and why we're writing a blog about us, our lives, and how we're living out our values.
Priests in red and gold celebrate a traditional Latin Mass

Discovering the Traditional Catholic Mass

How I discovered the traditional Latin Mass a few years ago, why that discovery changed everything for me, and what was wrong with the Novus Ordo Masses I'd attended.