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How to make a garden box


How to make a garden box

Don’t you love growing vegetables in the summer?  There is nothing better than a homegrown tomato!  We don’t usually end up with the greatest crop at the end of the season though, so I’ve been going through the Craftsy vegetable gardening course to learn all about the best methods of planting a successful vegetable garden.  I’m learning lots of tips and secrets that I never knew about before, so I’m really looking forward to this growing season!

How to build a garden box - This step by step photo tutorial shows exactly how to make one!

Today, we put together our raised garden boxes.  I’m going to show you exactly how to make a garden box in the tutorial below.

How to make a garden box |

They are surprisingly easy to put together and I love how neat and tidy they look in the garden.

How to make a garden box |

Materials for one raised garden box:

(Keep in mind as you see our photographs that we bought enough cedar for two boxes, then we decided to add a top lip so we went back to Home Depot to get more boards).

This list will make a 4ft x 4ft box, a 2ft x 6ft box or a 3ft x 5ft box.  We went with 3ft x 5ft for ours mostly because I thought the shape and size would look best in our backyard.  You’ll need:

  • (x4)  5/4×6 8ft long cedar decking lumber (for walls of box)
  • (x2)  5/4×6 10ft long cedar decking lumber (for top lip of box)
  • (x1)  2×4 8ft long cedar decking lumber (for inside bracing of box)
  • 50 wood decking screws
  • The total cost of each box was approximately $90, but this will obviously depend on how expensive cedar is where you live.  It would have been substantially cheaper if we went with regular lumber, but cedar will hold up much better over time.


    Since we made 5ft x 3ft boxes, we measured each 8ft long cedar board and marked the 3ft length from one side with a pencil:


    Use a straight edge to draw a line across the entire board:


    Use a miter saw to cut the board at the pencil marking:


    Cut all your boards so you have them ready.  You’ll have 4 x 3ft boards and 4 x 5ft boards (remember, we made two boxes, so the photo shows more boards than that):


    For the 2×4 bracing, measure out 11″ and mark it with a pencil.  Each 5/4×6 board is actually only 5.5″ wide, so the brace only needs to be 11″:


    Cut out all your bracing pieces using the miter saw:


    Set up on a flat surface, like in your garage if you can.  Start to put it together by using a drill to screw a 3ft 5/4×6 to one of the 11″ long 2×4 bracing pieces:

    How to make a garden box |

    Then drill in the screws of a 5ft 5/4×6 board onto the other side of the bracing piece:

    How to make a garden box |

    Your first corner should look like this:

    How to make a garden box |

    Then work your way around fastening the boards of the bottom layer to the bracing pieces:


    Do the same thing for the top layer:

    How to make a garden box |

    We purposely offset our boards to give it a staggered look.  This probably doesn’t make a difference when the box is only 2 boards high, but if it was 3 boards high it would definitely give it a nice finished look:

    How to make a garden box |

    For the top lip, cut the 10ft 5/4×6 boards to two 43″ pieces and two 57″ pieces.  We first attempted to cut the top lips at 45 degree angles, but with our minimal experience level, it was just not going to line up at all. So as nice as it would have looked, we scrapped that plan and just used right angle cuts to keep it simple:


    Definitely double check the lengths I just listed above.  As you can see in the photo below, we just lined the boards up as we went, marked them with a pencil and cut them to the right length:


    At the ends, where the lip had to be drilled into the bracing piece, it was pretty easy to line it up:


    But when we were screwing in at the center, we had to measure, since we had to hit the 5/4″ board beneath the top lip.  So we used a measuring tape to measure the distance of the wall beneath the board:


    Then measured that length on top of the board, and added about 1/2″ to where the center of the board below would be:


    Then measured to get the halfway point so that the screw didn’t look uneven:


    And drilled in the screw at the mark:


    If you don’t want to go to the effort of adding the top lip, this is what the box will look like, which is still really nice:

    How to make a garden box |

    But I definitely love the look of the top lip!  It makes it so much more finished in my opinion:

    How to make a garden box |

    And since we wanted two boxes, we repeated everything a second time:

    How to make a garden box |

    These boxes go together really easily!   And they look so much cleaner than a traditional in ground  vegetable garden. We didn’t have time to get the soil ready today, so that is still on the to-do list.  And we have to figure out what to do with the grass at the bottom.  I’m guessing it’s not a great idea to just add soil directly on top of the grass…?  I’ll keep you posted!

    Do you think there’s a way of treating cheaper wood to hold up a bit better? I have no budget near $90 a bed but they still look beautiful and I would love them for my veggies!

    I don’t know about treating the wood, but you can definitely stain or paint it. We made a garden box out of regular wood a few years ago. We planned on painting it, but we never got around to it, and it held up just fine. We moved to a new house after it had been around for 3 years and it was still in great shape.

    Great tutorial!!

    Just trying to get into the woodworking and tool projects. I’m saving this one to try! Thanks for the great tutorial!

    I was looking for a tutorial just like this! I need planters along from walkway.. I may change your dimensions and make them narrower, but you definitely inspired me to give it a shot! Love how they turned out!

    so cool!! I’ve been looking for a how to! You will be featured tomorrow @ Tell Me Tuesday! Hope you are having a great week!

    Absolutely love your tutorial! Going to try the planning boxes and going to use this to help when I make my dogs bunk bed dog bed. Thanks so much!!!!!!

    This tutorial was great. Thank you very much. The finished product looks so clean and simple. You mentioned the top soil right on the grass… If you buy landscaping fabric you can set the box flush on the ground and stable the fabric to the inside of the box before adding soil. Another option (The more time consuming one) would be to dig up the ground in the particular area where you are putting the boxes and then plant on top of that.

    We just made ours today and it turned out great. Amazing tutorial!

    Bravo, good job.

    Great job!

    Thank you so much for the wonderful Tutorial. We are definitely going to try this. Really tired of pulling weeds out of the garden.

    I suggest lining the bottom with 1/2 ” square mesh before adding soil. Putting newspapers or cardboard under that will help kill the grass. The mesh will keep gophers from eating all your root crops.

    What size screws did you use for this project?
    Thank you

    Im using woodprix instructions to make it and I do it already 🙂

    Cardboard works great on the grass. (2nd choice: Newspapers) I like to soak it in a storage tub or wheel barrow filled with water or hose it down well after putting it in place. Overlap the pieces. Then fill the bed with soil mixture. The cardboard kills the grass/weeds and will decompose by the end of the season. Earthworms love it. I do not like using landscape fabric because many plants send down deep roots.

    My backyard is 90% concrete slab and it would be too expensive to remove. Can this type of planter be placed on top of concrete?

    I would think fron the other comments above, that you can attach a good heavier mesh fabric to the bottom of it and then fill with soil.
    That way if you need to move it everything will stay in the box.


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