The Dirt on Moving Raised Beds to Full Sun

by Todd Walker

Last year we saw very little production from our backyard garden that only gets 3 to 4 hours of sun in the sunniest spot. I actually thought of making a raised bed on wheels. I’d call it The Sun Chaser. In my mind, it would resemble a covered wagon with hoops for winter gardening. Any of y’all have crazy ideas like this?

We decided to follow the sun to our front yard – without The Sun Chaser – for now.

Moose ready to help with the move

Moose is digging this project.

Here’s the challenge. Move the raised bed (pictured above) to the front yard.

This 4 x 8 foot raised bed was built from lumber from an old playscape I disassembled. I covered the pressure treated wood with black plastic to prevent chemicals from seeping into the soil. Two years ago we followed Mel’s soil mix from Square Foot Gardening: 1/3 blended compost, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite.

We put a lot of money into this raised bed and wanted to see the fruits of our labor. So we packed it up and moved it.

4 x 8 foot cube of soil left after lifting the frame.

4 x 8 foot cube of soil left after lifting the frame.

I moved the frame with my hand truck after taking the wire fence down leading to the front yard.

Being a math teacher and a little OCD when I build stuff, I wanted to make sure the frame formed 90 degree angles. I used Pythagorean’s Theorem to square all the corners. This is also called 3-4-5 method in carpentry. You make a 3′ mark on one leg, a 4′ mark on the other leg, and if the distance between the two marks (the hypotenuse) measures 5 feet, your corner is a perfect 90 degree angle.

Pythagorean theorem

See, math is fun and practical.

newspaper ground cloth

Newspaper from my in-laws put to use for a ground liner. You can buy ground cloth from the store, but newspaper is free and works too.

Now for the fun part – moving the soil mix.

I used a flat point shovel to cut the soil cube into manageable chunks and rolled them over with our wheelbarrow. The soil mix held together in cubes making the transfer easy.

Once all our soil was transferred, I chopped the cubes with the shovel. We amended the soil with compost by turning it with a pitchfork thoroughly. This also helped sift old root clumps. Added bonus: I unearthed two hidden sweet potatoes from last year’s plants.

soil mix amended and transfered to full sun

Soil mix transferred and amended with compost and ready to grow… in full sun.

We’ll give you updates on how this raised bed is doing in our full sun front yard. Our new rainwater barrel is 20 feet behind the raised bed. It’ll reach the plants in front of the house too.

Progress so far on our frontyard garden. There's a variety of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and other plants along the front of the house in the background.

Progress so far on our front yard garden. There’s a variety of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and other plants along the front of the house in the background.

We’re going rock hunting today (a great Primal workout) to finish our border which will reach around the raised bed. We plan to lay newspaper and pine straw inside the border of our front yard garden for two reasons – 1) aesthetics and 2) weed control.

Every step (however large or small) you take toward building resilience and self-sufficiency is a move in the right direction. MI Patriot sent me a photo of her DiY rainwater barrel made out of a trash can. It’s one more step that allows her and her family to bounce back from hard times.

DRG and I get inspired from emails and comments from you. Please let us know how you’re doing the stuff!


Guys, if you perception of Pinterest is it’s all about girly stuff, you haven’t checked out all the ‘manly’ preparedness stuff being pinned on our boards. Check it out here.

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Gardening, Real Food | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “The Dirt on Moving Raised Beds to Full Sun

  1. We have our first raised bed up this year but it’s not doing too great at the moment. but with this weather I’m not amazingly suprised. and the greenhouse is functional now too


    • Cool greenhouse, Sarah! Thanks for updating us on your progress. We’ve had a crazy beginning to our summer here in the south. We’ve had tons of rain and mild temps for our area. Not complaining, just an observation.

      Please let us know how your raised beds do. 🙂


  2. Leslie

    measuring diagonally, from one corner diagonal to other corner, and then opposite again from the remaining two corners, these measurements should equal for your apparatus to be square. If you’re tape measure isn’t long enough, just use a longer piece of string or yarn. readjust your frame until the measurements are equal.


  3. Pingback: 33 Awesome DIY Projects For Preppers – Survival Backpack

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