You may recall last week when I posted about the plan Mike and I had for a vegetable garden in our backyard. We were still in the planning stages and hadn’t made any firm decisions.
We came up with the initial idea of doing a two tier planter, like this one:
However, we realized that for the layout of our deck and yard, a higher tier wouldn’t work very well. So, we modified the design. The second design was an L-shape with the veggies on the long side and the herbs on the short side. But, after careful research spread out over a week we learned that some veggies grow better when they are planted near certain herbs. This helps to discourage bugs, apparently, so we revised the design again. We finally settled on a basic rectangle design to sit right in front of our deck. So, it wasn’t exactly the way I was envisioning it in the beginning, but considering my track record with plants, simple seemed better. This is a picture Mike found that we both liked and he seemed to think he could re-create the look fairly easily.
I wish I could take the credit for this project, but it was all Mike, with the help of his friend, Phil. In case any of you want to make one yourself, here is a list of materials we used. We bought pressure treated wood for the box of the container because it is cost-effective, lasts a long time outside and it matches our deck. We chose to finish the box with a cedar ledge on top. We chose cedar because if any of our veggies or herbs fell over the side of the box and touched the wood, we didn’t want them to touch the chemically treated wood. Of course, choose whatever wood you prefer. You may want to make your entire container out of cedar. Also, you may need to adjust your measurements to suit the size you want. Our container is about 12 feet long by 2.5 feet wide and 22 inches deep.
Here’s what you’ll need:
8 – 2×6 boards, 12 feet long (These are for the front and back of our container)
4 – 2×6 boards, 10 feet long (These are for the sides)
1 – 4×4 post, 12 feet long
1 – 2×6 cedar board, 12 feet long
2 – 2×6 cedar boards, 8 feet long
1 box of #8 3 inch deck screws (250)
1 box of #8 1 1/2 inch deck screws (50)
1 10×25 drop sheet to line the garden
32 corner brackets
#8 countersink bit
4 foot level
A lot of patience and a helpful friend or spouse
Mike started by cuttting the 2×10 10 foot boards into 30 inch pieces. These would be the sides of the container. He ended up with 8 pieces for the sides. Then, he cut the eight 12 foot boards to exactly 12 feet long. I didn’t know this, but a “12 foot” board is sometimes actually shorter or longer than 12 feet. So, to make sure that all the pieces for the front and back were exactly the same length, he had to trim a few.
Next, it was time to start assembling the container. He took one side piece and two long pieces and connected them like a sandwich. He joined the boards together so that the short piece was inside the longer pieces and screwed them together. This gave him ¾ of a rectangle. He then inserted another short piece to the open end and screwed it in place. Now we had a closed rectangle. He then placed it in front of our deck where our garden would sit to check if the ground was level. We got lucky, but you may need to either dig out the ground a bit or add in dirt underneath so that it sits level.
He repeated this process and placed the second rectangle on top of the first one. Using the corner brackets in all 4 corners, he connected the two rectangles. Once he did this, you could see that it was really starting to take shape. We wanted our container to sit level with our deck, so Mike made 2 more rectangles and connected each in the same way. In the end it was 22 inches tall.
Next, he needed to cut the posts to add some stability to the box. He measured from ground to top of the box and cut the 4×4 posts to that length. When it came time to place them, he added 3 across the front – one on each end and one in the middle – to the outside of the box. We liked the look of the posts on the outside, but of course, you could add yours to the inside. He also added two to each of the sides in each corner the sides. Since our container was going to be against our deck, we didn’t need to add posts to the backside. If yours is exposed on all four sides, you will want to add 3 posts to the other long side. These were connected to the box by screwing from the inside into the posts.
You could stop here, but it looks so polished with a nice ledge on top. Plus, it gives you something to rest your basket on when collecting your bounty. Cut the cedar boards to fit around the perimeter of the box. Mike added one board to the 12 foot side first, then measured the length from the deck to the edge of the cedar to determine how long each of the side pieces should be. Ultimately it was a design choice, so it’s up to you how much of a lip you want to go over the edge.
The final step was to prep the container for soil. Since the wood was pressure treated, we wanted to line it with a plastic cloth. The packing of the pressure treated wood says it is safe for vegetable gardens, and after doing some research a couple different sources confirmed the same thing, but we thought, “why take the risk?” We invested in organic seeds and organic soil – we didn’t want to run the risk of any chemicals leeching their way into our veggies. Mike laid the drop cloth over to cover the inside of the box. We then stapled it into place to secure it. Then, he cut the excess plastic to the top of the box. In hindsight, we would have laid the plastic first, then attached the cedar on top to secure the plastic and then trimmed the plastic underneath the ledge. This would have made the finished product look a little neater and completely sealed from the top, but it worked out. Once it is in place, you can then cut the bottom part of the plastic out so that the plastic is only covering the wood.
And there you have it – a beautiful, hand-crafted raised garden bed ready to be filled with delicious produce. You could definitely tweak this design to suit your needs; it could be bigger, smaller – whatever you decide. And, of course, you don’t have to use this for just a vegetable garden. I think smaller square versions of these would look great in a backyard garden with some flowing greenery spilling out over the sides and tall annuals. That’s the beauty of a DIY project – it’s up to you how you want to personalize it. Paint it, stain it – decorate it with some interesting designs or your family name – anything is possible!
Let me know what you think and if you make one yourself, I’d love to see some of your pictures!