It started off as an innocent, cold Saturday in January project with my family. I packed my two kids up, and we found our way to Home Depot to look at the organic seeds. It had been a few years since we’d planted a garden at our previous house, and they were excited to help. They picked out corn, tomatoes, herbs, beets, peppers and cucumbers. We went home and planted our pods in the hopes that in a week we’d have some little sprouts on our hands.
This is where I’ve got to confess something—I did it backward. Usually, people have a garden and then they start their seeds. But with 72 little seeds and the hopes of my kids on the line, I figured it would produce more than enough pressure to ensure I had one in the yard by the time our little seeds were ready.
A couple of Saturdays later, it was unseasonably warm and I decided to get to work. While we have a really flat yard, the only place that got the needed six to eight hours of sunlight was in the side yard of our house, which inconveniently slopes down and away, falling a couple of feet in elevation. Lucky me. I set my level lines, got out my shovel and started digging.
However, that didn’t really solve my biggest challenge: the design of the actual bed. As my wife would attest, I’m particular to a fault. I like modern design and simple textures like wood, metal and concrete. I don’t really want anything to look homemade or DIY, but I don’t really have the talent to build something amazing or the money to hire out more skilled labor. Another trip to Home Depot gave me the exact inspiration I needed. By fluke, I walked down the construction aisle and noticed a few metal window wells. Usually, these go around basement windows, but I thought they’d make pretty nice end caps for a garden. After bringing some wood over, measuring the length and finding some galvanized bolts, I was able to lock in a simple design pretty quickly.
Assembling the bed was actually pretty easy, even for someone that isn’t an engineer. The length of wood was uniform, so it didn’t even require much cutting. With a drill, a wrench and a little sweat, the bed came together in a few hours. A yard and a half of dirt later, the bed was finished with an entire month to spare.
1. Get Your Supplies
- Two 24 x 37 x 16 window wells
- Six 2 x 8 x 8 treated boards (This will make a garden that’s nearly 11 feet.)
- 28 2 1/2-inch galvanized bolts
- 12 1-inch outdoor wood screws
- One 1 x 4 x 8 treated board
- Six screw eyes
- Six stainless steel turnbuckles
- 10 feet of galvanized metal wire
- Four 24-inch rebar
2. Get your tools
- Line Level
- Drill and bits
- Ratchet set
- Miter saw
- Crescent wrench
- Tape measure
3. Choose your plot
Pick a piece of ground that gets a minimum of six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Level the ground. You can either build the ground with a retaining wall or dig down. I chose to build up the ground, but you can dig down just as easily.
4. Bend in the wings of the window wells (optional)
I wanted the wood to be flush with the window wells, so I chose to bend them in, but this isn’t required. To do this, I made grips out of wood and bent them backward.
5. Building the structure
Attach 2 x 8 x 8 treated boards to form the walls. This should require very little cutting since the wide of the board fits the 24-inch window wells and they should all be pretty uniform in length. Use the 2-inch galvanized bolts to attach the ends of the boards to the wings of the window wells. Cut the 1 x 4 x 8 board into 6 x 16 pieces. Attach the 6 x 16 pieces to the interior of the bed to reinforce the walls. One in the middle and one on each end need the metal window wells. Use the outdoor wood screws to attach these boards to each of the three pieces of the side wall, and drive one screw eye into the middle of each of the reinforcement boards. Using the turnbuckles and wire, attach the walls together with the screw eyes. Use the crescent wrench to tighten the turnbuckles and make sure the wire is pulled tight. This will ensure that your garden will keep its shape over the long haul.
Fill with dirt, compost, peat moss and plant away!