Recently I was approached by a local company, Naturalyards, about doing a product review. After careful consideration, I agreed to it because they met my criteria: 1) they are a great company, 2) they make a quality product 3) it’s a product we need for our homestead and 4) it’s a product you might actually be interested in. In exchange for receiving their product, I am writing an honest review about my experience with it.

Our raised beds have been in need of replacement for some time. I built them six years ago using leftover cedar fence boards. It wasn’t such a horrible idea – I was re-purposing some naturally rot-resistant cedar – but the wood was really thin and my budding construction skills very poor. Over time, the weight of the soil has been pushing the boards to the breaking point. The corners need continual mending and at some point the bowing sides will simply bust apart.

The raised beds from Naturalyards seemed like an excellent replacement option. First off, they are made with sustainably-harvested cedar. That means they are not using old growth, but rather second-growth wood from native California Incense Cedars. Second, the manufacturing happens in Talent, Oregon – so everything in the process is done locally.

Our challenge was installing these slick new beds to an already planted out garden. We began by carefully removing the old, beat up fence boards. The new beds were a few inches smaller than our old ones, so we also had to trim the soil edges back a bit to fit the new beds around them.

What a fiasco! It took several hours to deconstruct the beds and reposition the soil. Every time some garden soil spilled on the pathway, a little part of me died. That soil is SO valuable and it pained me to see any of it get wasted.

The new beds took literally ten minutes a piece to assemble. I actually did most of it myself while Jay held baby Juniper. The folks from Naturalyards told me it would be easy to install, but I guess I didn’t realize it would be THAT easy.

The corners dove-tail together and a metal rod gets slipped into the holes in the corners to hold them in place. You don’t even need a hammer. Seriously? That is pretty dang clever. And it seems to me like you could easily take these beds with you when you move, so it could be a good option for renters and homeowners a like.

We didn’t know which box the instructions were in, so I tried an experiment to see how far I could get with assembly before needing them. They were simple enough to install without reading anything, but when I found the instructions they offered some good tips like making sure the beds are level before positioning them into their final place.

The beds look great as-is once assembled. The corners look kind of like a jigsaw puzzle and there are some small gaps that soil could work its way through. I assume the wood expands and contracts with weather changes, so those gaps won’t really be noticeable later.

You can order an optional “trim pack” that gives the beds a more finished look, which is what we installed next. The trim pack includes corner pieces to cover up those dove-tailed ends and top pieces to create a sharp looking ledge just wide enough to sit on. Our hiccup here was that some pieces from the trim pack were missing with our order.

You can tell a lot about a company from how they handle customer service. I contacted Naturalyards and they apologized for the oversight and sent the missing parts out overnight. I appreciated the quick response and interacting with a real, live human being – something that is rare these days.

The trim pack took about 15 minutes per bed to install. You need a drill for this part and it’s easier with two people to fit the top pieces together. That said, I did it fine on my own with some light cursing. The trim pack makes it harder to disassemble, but the trade off is a really polished final look.

My beds are 4′ x 6′ and 22″ high – just high enough so the ducks can’t gobble everything up. They were about $350 bucks a piece and another roughly $90 bucks for each trim pack. So the big question is: was it worth it?

In short, yes. The beds come with a 15-year warranty, but I bet they’ll last much longer. I love that they could be disassembled and moved, which I plan to do if/when we ever move. I could see skipping the trim pack to save some bucks if you didn’t mind the jigsaw puzzle corners. And finally, this is a family-owned company with excellent customer service that is keeping people employed in my fair state. I love supporting companies I believe in.

With gardening season upon us, Naturalyards is offering a sale of 40-50% off some raised beds. If you are in the market, this would be a great time to give them a call. They make beds in all sizes and configurations, plus they ship for free nationwide – awesome.

I feel like our garden got a gorgeous facelift and would love to hear what you think. What kind of garden projects have you invested in on your homestead? Are there certain projects you have bought vs. built yourself? What kinds of projects have transformed your homestead?

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