How To Stain a Startle Garden

How to Stain Wood For a Startle Garden

After months of wondering if I’d actually have a fall garden, it finally happened but not like you’d expect. I decided to first stain the outside of the bed frames and then take things to the next level a little later.

Sunday afternoon seemed like the perfect time to begin staining this startle garden especially since it’s been sitting here since May waiting and wondering if I’d ever do anything else but fill it with natural debris.

The waiting is finally over….

The Before Stained Startle Garden

Let’s Recap Just a Little

  • The Startle Garden Book was published in February – View here.
  • I showed you here on the blog how to build these beds frames for $10 here.
  • Then when my frames were all built I moved them to Quail Grove in May here.

Minwax for staining wood, it's my favorite

Choosing Stain for Raised Beds

Choosing stain may be a personal preference but my favorite brand for raised beds is Minwax; this project can be purchased at almost any hardware or home improvement store and they even carry it at Walmart.

This time around I decided to go with a lighter stain, color Gunstock.  It almost matches our porch deck on the shed so it seemed like a good choice. Staining with Minwax is amazing because the wood soaks it up quickly, it dries fast in the sunshine, and it’s very easy to apply.

Applying Stain with a Brush

Cleaning and Applying The Stain

The first thing we need to do is clean the exterior of the beds.  Do this by power washing ahead of time or just brush it off like I did.  Our well isn’t installed yet which means when it comes to water I’m limited, and why we’re still staying at the RV park.

After you clean the wood, shake the stain can before opening.  Make sure to also stir the interior liquid using a stick because the ingredients tend to settle towards the bottom.

Brush the stain onto the wood from the top working towards the bottom.  Notice I stained in the direct sunlight, this is because the stain will dry fast, which also means if drips appear they need to be brushed out immediately.  Skip wiping off stain after applied with a rag because that step just isn’t necessary with this wood.

Stain the top rims and outside of the beds only, leaving the interior natural.  I always keep the inside of my raised beds free of products, this is a personal choice and a decision every gardener has to make for themselves.

Stain is Finished and ready for dirt and herbs.

It only took me about 40 minutes to stain the entire set up which was pretty fantastic.

Did you notice all those plants sitting around and inside some of the beds?  These were all propagated from our farm and I brought them to the new property right before we moved.   These poor things have been screaming at me for weeks begging to get out of these pots.

Can you guess what kind of startle garden this is going to be?  That’s right herbs and a few berries.  I’m really excited and so blessed to finally be gardening again using the startle garden method.  I absolutely love it because it’s simple, effective and so pretty.  Just wait till you see it finished next week.

How to wood stain Raised Bed for a Startle Garden



  1. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    Your beds looks pretty before but the new stain gives them a fresh new look. I like it and can’t wait to see the finished garden.

    1. Carole says:

      That stain really surprised me and I wasn’t sure once I opened the can but it has just enough life to make me want to garden. I’m so excited Patti and it rained this morning so that means I should be able to get the rest of it planted tomorrow.

  2. daisy says:

    It looks great! The stain makes such a difference. Well done!

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you Daisy – I’m really enjoying this color and I almost have all the beds planted. Just one more left.

  3. Nikki Gwin says:

    I am loving the name Startle Garden! Your beds look fantastic.
    🙂 gwingal

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you – It’s the best and I should have an update on it next week after our property survey is finished. It looks like I’m going to have to move them.

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