Building a garden bed. The Sequel.

This is my first backyard after 21 years of living in condos and apartments. So two years ago when we moved in, one of the first things we did was build a vegetable garden bed.

It turned out like this:

suburban vegetable garden

We loved it and we made such great use of it.

I learned a lot of lessons with that garden bed as it was my first garden ever. I made mortal enemies with cucumber beetles and squash borers and learned why spacing your vegetables is important when planting despite thinking it was a good idea to let your kids plant the seeds wherever. And what lettuce tastes like when it’s bolted and you don’t realize that it bolted.

But as with all projects, as your life changes, your home changes with it. And as great as the bed was, it wasn’t fitting in with our backyard anymore.

There were two big issues.

The first was our backyard is sloped. So all the water would constantly pool in the bed towards the area at the base of the red trellis (which we also made). The second was that that entire area with the red trellis, was also in the shade because of the fence and how the sunlight went around it. The only things that grew there were the raspberries and anything that really loved water. Meaning not a hell of a lot.

A bigger issue for us overall was the lack of privacy. We had neighbors move in behind us where there weren’t any for the previous 10 years (it was an uninhabited model builder home) and suddenly “Hello neighbor!” took on a whole new meaning. Just a few days ago the new neighbors had hired Broadleaf Tree Surgery Rochester to trim their tree branches which were in our yard as the leaves and twigs from the branches of the tree were constantly falling in your garden. This gave us an opportunity to plant an autumn blaze maple for some shade and privacy and it took really well. So we wanted to make new beds for the side fence so that we could plant another tree and move the garden a touch away from the back fence.

So we did just that.

We went to Home Depot and got some pressured treated mini ties.

Picking up Mini Ties at Home Depot -

Then James put together the beds.

They’re super simple garden beds. He just trimmed the ends of the wood to the measurements we needed for our space (they’re about 7 foot long). Then screwed them together with deck screws while doing a nice layering affect. For the inside, using a staple gun he put in a weed barrier.

Buidling an easy garden bed -

We moved it over to it’s new home.

Backyard vegetable garden -

But then came the fun part. Digging over 2 yards of soil out of the old square garden bed, dismantling it, making an additional bed and putting the soil into the new beds.

I must say that this was the nicest Mother’s Day present I got in recent memory.

digging up a garden bed -

Don’t worry I helped too. You just can’t see me in my red rainboots because I was too busy taking pictures of the scenery. By the way, thanks for that extra Mother’s Day present Home Depot.

Did you catch that? I know eh?

garden beds in progress -

Finally we moved the old trellises over and drilled them both together and attached them to the beds.

DIY Garden Beds with trellis -

Building your own garden beds -

Did I mention we have a lot of extra soil?

Some of that will be reused into new planters that we need to make using the wood from the old garden bed.

extra soil -

wood to be reused

And if that wasn’t enough, I went off one day and texted James and said “Hey honey I bought a tree!’

So now that is in the backyard too.

Small Autumn Blaze Maple -

And it has a long way to go before it reaches the height and shade factor of our other Autumn Blaze Maple.

Autumn Blaze Maple -

When that happens, these garden beds can be moved (or new ones made) to their prime sunlight spot, where the current swing set is.

As much as I would love to move that swing set elsewhere, it’s the flattest spot in our backyard and keeps my kids occupied and happy. You know what that means?

I’m sane and happy. It’s staying put for now.I recently realized something was missing in our backyard and that is when I went to to complete the look of the garden and ordered a bunch of matching outdoor furniture.

Hawks Nest swing set -

I do want to give a special thanks to the folks at Home Depot for helping make this project happen.


Who needs soil? Anyone? That reminds me, we need sod.

PS – As a bonus, for those of you who love the rustic look and are into the faux aging process with paint, let me present to you my favourite faux aging technique.

This is a bench I painted red.

faded red bench -

That is what happened to it after being kept outside for one Canadian winter.

So send me your stuff this Fall. It can be done for free and without sandpaper.

Here’s to a good Spring in the meantime!


  • Reply
    May 20, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Nice! You guys look like you’re ready for a full summer of fun. Wanna come help me get mine ready? 🙂

    • Reply
      May 21, 2014 at 7:49 am

      Anytime my friend! You and Tess can bake me something. I’m not picky.

  • Reply
    May 21, 2014 at 12:05 am

    How exciting! I have tried to garden for going on three years now… and each year, I’d say that 50% of my crops fail.

    I will try again… and maybe I have to be wiser with my veggie placements and where I build my beds.

    Your backyard is looking lovely (and I LOVE that tree!) – can’t wait to follow along as your garden grows!

  • Reply
    Jeanette @ This Dusty House
    May 21, 2014 at 10:29 am

    The new garden beds look great! And, maybe a little easier to work in since they’re narrower? Do you have a plan for what you’re planting yet?

    • Reply
      May 21, 2014 at 11:39 am

      Yes a whole bunch easier! Tomatoes and lettuce so far as that’s what we eat the most. And the raspberries take over!

  • Reply
    Kristen S
    May 21, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Can I borrow your husband? I have a hell of a lot of dirt to move. 😉

    • Reply
      May 21, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      I read this in the middle of shopping for pipes at Home Depot. And then people thought what’s wrong with the woman laughing hysterically standing next to the copper?

  • Reply
    May 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Looks great!! We have been in our house for 5 years now and the gardens mostly took care of themselves but are starting to look a little hairy now! Great inspiration!

    • Reply
      May 21, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      Thanks Sarah! I’m enjoying how they look right now b/c like you, I know what the outdoors is going to do to them a year or so.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    May 22, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Alex I’ll be following your gardening stories, I have a lot to learn on that front. And we just posted our play structure on kijiji on the weekend and watched it being dismantled and carted away. Bittersweet day.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Oh no. Don’t tell me your kids have outgrown it. I dread that day. I always wanted one as a kid and I never had a backyard so I swore I would get our kids one.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2014 at 9:26 am

    looks amazing! and our adirondack chairs, which we also painted red are looking the same as your bench. I’m dreading painting them, it was such a pain.

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