by Staff Reports

Home&GardenLogoThere is nothing as flavorful and good for you as homegrown fruits and vegetables. But the idea of planting a garden is daunting for many. An easier method is to install a raised bed planter or two in your backyard. If you have basic DIY skills, you can make the planters in just a couple of hours. A simple Google search yields many examples and instructions. A little time searching for what you have in mind will save you hours of wandering the home improvement stores looking lost!

January is the perfect time in Arizona to plant many favorites such as beets, Swiss chard, carrots and radishes as seeds. Even more edible garden items such as cucumbers and melons can be planted from seed in February. Your local nursery or agriculture extension office can help you with ideas. You don’t need a lot of space for a raised bed planter. Herbs make a great way to get started in a half-barrel. Just select three or four varieties and you are ready to go.

Starting your planter

The first step is to measure the area where you want to place the planter. Decide not only the length and width, but the height you want – the higher the bed, the less bending over later on. Take the measurements with you to your local home improvement store. Some stores will even cut the larger pieces of lumber for you – just ask!

What you’ll need

  • Lumber – Garden ties (aka railroad ties), 2×12 or 4×8 or other lumber cut to desired size
  • Screws – Two inches longer than the width of your lumber. Use 2 or 3 per corner
  • Hammer or mallet
  • Drill
  • Level

Building your planter

Many yards in Arizona feature desert landscaping or rock. Clear and level the area to place your planter. Save the rock – you’ll need it in a few steps! If your yard is grass, you will need to remove the grass down to bare dirt.

Place your wood timbers and check for level. Having your planter level will make watering much easier. Once level, secure the corners using screws. Drilling a pilot hole first will make this a much easier task. Have someone help hold the opposite corner square while you drill the first side and then move to the opposite corner. Your planter can be as high or as low as you want. Remember, the higher the planter, the less you have to bend over while you are working on your garden!

Your planters can be any shape or size desired. They can even be set as a pattern to create a path. There is no right or wrong way! You are limited only by your imagination.

Once you have achieved the desired height, place the rock or gravel you removed earlier, sparingly, back in your planter to improve drainage. Fill your planter with commercial topsoil, free from weeds.

You can plant from seed or purchase starter plants at the same time you are getting your lumber. Plant climbing vegetables on one side where you can install a trellis. Don’t forget to include colorful flowers to attract bees for pollination!



  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce


  • Beets
  • Boy Choy
  • Carrots
  • Collard Greens
  • Endive
  • Leeks
  • Green Onions
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Rutabagas
  • Spinach
  • Turnips

Planting guide: