New raised bed brackets, part one

raised bedAs you know, I’m crazy about raised beds. In our garden, we have a whopping total of 26 of them!

I love how the soil stays loose in the beds, how the soil warms up earlier in the spring, how easy the beds are to prepare for planting, how little you have to do to grow plants in them and so on.

We have 3 different sizes of raised beds: 21 are 3′ wide by 8′ long; 2 are 3′ wide by 16′ long, and our newest 3 beds are 4′ wide by 16′ long. We use untreated lumber to make them and prefer using 2×10″ boards.

raised bed
This is what the channel on the inside of the bracket looks like.

I recently learned about a product called the “M Brace” that helps you build a raised bed without any tools. Intrigued, I contacted the company and they are kindly allowing me to test a set of 4 brackets in my garden so I can see how they work.

The decorative M Brace brackets are made from recycled sheet metal (that the developers say “is designed to rust to a really cool patina over time”) and have channels on the inside that you slide your wood into. Yesterday, my husband and I assembled a bed to replace an old one that had rotted.

If you look at the photos, you can see how it works. We slipped off the old bed, then cut away some of the soil with a shovel so we could easily work around it.

We started with two 2″ x 10″ x 12′-long boards and cut each of them into a 3′ length and an 8′ length, for a total of 4 boards.

raised bed
One end of the bed is done…
raised bed
Checking to make sure the bed is level.

We set the corner brackets in place and then slid each board into them. I’ve since learned that you can build a 12″ to 14″ tall bed, so we could have made it taller. The nice thing is that the M Brace gives you the flexibility to make differently-sized beds.

Once the boards were in place, we used a level to make sure the bed itself was level and that it was level with its neighbor 3′ away. And that was it!

A 4-piece set of M Brace brackets retails for $79.99 and you can locate them on their website, Art of the Garden.

One fun application for making beds with these brackets would be for a kitchen garden right off the deck or next to the house. Since the M Brace brackets come in a lot of attractive designs, they would really dress up your garden.

They also carry decorative brackets to build kid’s gardens, like frogs and butterflies. Wouldn’t that look cute?

One thing we thought of was how it might be helpful if there were screw holes in the brackets so you could easily fasten everything together (update: I just discovered my information was a bit out of date; it turns out they do provide the ability to screw the lowest boards to the brackets; see my next post for clarification). I realize the intent of this design is to be able to build raised beds without needing any tools, however, so I guess that would defeat the purpose! If you want to learn more about the M Brace, visit their website above.