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This year we finally made my garden dreams come true and I’m here to share all the details of the beautiful space we’ve created. We’re complete beginners when it comes to gardening and this was a learning experience, but hopefully what we’ve learned so far will help! The amount of joy you have brought us is already well worth the time and money it took to create this enclosed raised garden bed.

How to build your own secret garden

Earlier this year I did some research on everything you need to know before starting a raised garden bed and it was really helpful to get some background knowledge before you dive right in. There are many different ways of gardening and everyone’s yard is different requiring different fencing and layouts. Of course we all live in different parts of the world, so our climate will be a factor as well.

Arched trellis in the garden

The only piece of advice I remember reading a lot about and I’m glad we followed it was to grow what you like to eat. If you don’t, you will waste time, energy and fresh food. Growing what you enjoy eating saves a lot of food waste!

Why is an elevated garden closed?

Our backyard faces the woods, so we need protection from all the animals that want to visit. We didn’t want to do all the work of building and planting a beautiful garden just to have someone else eat it! Since there is no fence around our garden, I was trying to think of how to enclose some raised beds. One day I was at a friend’s and I peeked out their window and saw their garden – perfect!

We used them as inspiration and modified it a bit to better fit our garden and our wants/needs.

Supplies for making an enclosed raised garden bed

for the framework

for the gate

Step 1: Plan the size of your garden

I highly recommend laying it out with some twine or spray paint so you can see exactly how big your garden is. We quickly used a tape measure to get a rough idea and once we brought the wood in and laid it out I realized it wasn’t quite as big as I wanted it to be. It wasn’t a big deal, we just needed to get a little more wood but make sure you work out the size before you start!

Step 2: Building the Frame

We’ve tried to use 12″ and 8″ boards where possible so there aren’t too many pieces. Starting from the back row, we tie the bottom panel to a column on both ends. Our posts do not reach the ground but this is definitely something you can do if you want it to be a more permanent structure.

The 8″ boards are about 7″ wide and we stacked them 3″ high, so our total height was about 21″. You can certainly go lower or higher for that matter but I can say now after using the garden that I think it’s a pretty good hike. You don’t have to bend over so much which is really nice.

We used external screws to attach all of the boards and create our frame. One thing to note is that cedar tends to split easily, so I would pre-drill holes to avoid that!

We were also dealing with some uneven terrain and had to use some shims and scrap wood to make adjustments. Looking back, I would definitely suggest leveling your grounds first!

Step 3: Add support

Once you have your frame built you will need to go around and add some struts using the 2x4s. I recommend doing this vertically between all the posts as well as adding some flat on the ground between the sides. We already noticed some swaying because we only added the supports on the sides and not the bottom/centre.

Step 4: Build your portal

I had so much fun designing the gate in our elevated garden. This was an important part of this build because it added so much magic! It’s also the most used part of the park as it opens and closes several times a day and I wanted to feel a smile on my face when I walked through it.

We have attached everything using Craig Gage Which was a total time saver and made it so easy. Then we used these stops To attach it to the columns at the entrance to the park.

Step 5: Paint your lawn

Before you fill your lawn, you’ll need to stain it, if you choose to do so. If you are using outdoor wood such as cedar, you can leave it completely natural and let it weather on its own. I decided I wanted to tweak the color a bit so I used Sherwin Williams Woodscapes in Mountain Ash.

After applying it, I was a little unsure about it and thought of staining it darker. My plan was to pick something to match his color our decking And this one was very close, and had a slightly grayish tone to it. I was feeling antsy to start farming so I decided to go with it. It’s a really nice color and I know with time the weather will start to change naturally anyway.

Step 6: Adding Pavers to Your Garden

You can do a number of different things in the center of your garden, but I decided to do this Floors. You can leave it as a lawn or add gravel or mulch too! In this process we first put up a weed barrier to prevent any weeds from growing.

Next we used sand to create as flat a surface as possible. Using the long level helped make the whole thing easier! Once it’s soft, you can also knead it to make it nice and flat.

After sanding, you can add your pavers. We were These paving Lowe’s and FIL’s have set them up starting in the back of the park and moving forward.

To help keep them in place we used polymeric sand which works very well. You can follow the directions on the product but you basically sweep it into the cracks and then water it to get it hardened in place.

These pavers add so much charm and character to our garden! It was exactly what I envisioned and I think it’s the best choice for durability over time.

Step 7: Attach the Tree

For more magic, you can add the tree To your garden! We had discussed building one, but cedar is expensive and starting to add up so we decided to buy one instead. I ordered some C.L. Iceberg rose of Heirloom Roses online and have already started growing. I’m going to have to be patient with this but I can’t wait for everything to be covered in beautiful white roses!

Step 8: Fill in your lawn

This was by far the hardest part of the whole process. Since the beds are a little higher, you have to fill it up a bit and the dirt is heavy! This is why you want to fill it first with as much organic matter as possible. We followed loosely The lasagna method Which helped but I would make sure you fill it in more than you think you need before adding dirt, because the dirt pushes it down.

We started together hardware canvas First to prevent any creatures from crawling under it. Then we put up cardboard to help keep weeds out. Next were branches and deadwood from the woods. Make sure they don’t have any green leaves on them or they will sprout! And then there were dead leaves!

Once you have all the layers of organic material, you can start adding dirt. I went to Elliott’s Garden Center and they recommended their potting mix followed by an inch of mushroom compost.

It took a lot of trips back and forth from our driveway with the wheelbarrow but we filled it up and were so excited to start farming!

I made Instagram video From the layers we used to fill the garden you can check out!

Step 9: Plant Your Garden!

I went to a few different local nurseries and picked all kinds of starter plants. Since this was my first time planting in our garden, I had no idea how many plants I would need, so I took a real guess. And of course I got a lot of ha. When it came time to plant, I followed the spacing on each mark as best I could and hoped for the best!

It’s been almost a month and a half and our garden is thriving! I can’t believe how lush and beautiful it looks and we actually managed to harvest some veggies! We grew tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, beets, peppers, chard, lettuce, zucchini, and cabbage.

How to start a garden

I want to plant some shrubs and flowers around the garden so that you can’t see all of our neighbors’ yards. And to help bring in some pollinators!

Garden with tree
Arched garden trellis

Gardening has brought me so much joy and is very therapeutic for me. It’s so peaceful and incredibly rewarding, and it makes me even happier because our whole family loves to participate too.

Build a rice garden
DIY raised garden bed plans

Our enclosed raised garden is off to a great start and I can’t wait to watch it grow over the years! We also delivered a DIY irrigation system So be sure to check it out!


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