For the first time since our move, over three years ago, we finally got around to planning our new garden! First on the list of things to do – build garden boxes.
Which Woods are Best?
After researching different building materials, we found that both redwood and cedar would work as great garden bed frames. Both cedar and redwood will stand up to harsh weather conditions without leaching toxic substances. Both materials are dense woods and their natural oils help it to resist rot, UV rays from the sun, and pests much better than other types of untreated wood. Although treated lumber has similar weather and pest resistance, the possibility that chemicals may leach from the wood to our next dinner salad was enough to convince us to go with untreated lumber. The only downside to using cedar or redwood is that they are more expensive. We settled on 2×6 redwood boards with cedar 4×4 posts in the corners.
The final design for our garden boxes was approximately 4 feet wide, 6 feet long, and 1.5 feet tall. This design can be easily adjusted to build the boxes 1 foot tall (to save money) or 2 feet tall (to provide more growth room for the roots and reduce the pain of bending over while you garden).
Garden Box Materials
The following materials are all that you need to build a garden box:
- Three 12-ft long 2×6 boards (Redwood or Cedar)
- Three 8-ft long 2×6 boards (Redwood or Cedar)
- One 6-ft or 8-ft long 4×4 (Redwood or Cedar)
- Forty-eight 4-inch long ¼” landscaping screws (they were cheaper for me in a box of 50)
Before you get started, you may also want to gather up all the tools you’ll need:
- Circular saw for cutting the lumber
- Tape measure
- Cordless drill with a 1/8” bit for drilling pilot holes and a bit for the screws
Steps for Constructing the Boxes
Once you have purchased your materials, you’re ready to get started!
1. Prior to assembling the box, dig down 1 to 2 feet into the existing dirt to loosen the soil and remove any rocks. Mix the good soil in with the existing dirt to encourage roots to grow down below the garden boxes into the natural soil. Finish preparation by leveling out the area where the garden box will sit.
2. Cut each of the three 12-ft long 2×6 boards in half to get six 6-ft long boards.
3. Cut each of the three 8-ft long 2×6 boards in half to get six 4-ft long boards.
4. Cut the 6-ft or 8-ft long 4×4 into four 16-inch long pieces. (Note that if you are planning to build three garden boxes, two 8-ft 4×4’s will be enough to cover all three boxes. However, since an 8-ft 4×4 is not quite 8 feet long, you’ll have to reduce the length of each piece to approximately 15.75-inches.)
5. Carefully stack three of the 6-ft boards on top of each other on one side of the garden box and three of the 4-ft boards on another side with a 4×4 piece in the corner as shown in the figure below. (An extra pair of hands is very helpful for this step.)
6. Ensure that the corner is square.
7. Draw a vertical line down the side of the boards at the center of 4×4 to mark the locations for drilling in the screws.
8. Drill two pilot holes with a 1/8” bit through each board (12 holes per corner), and screw in the landscaping screws.
9. Repeat this process for each of the other three corners.
10. Position the garden box where you want it, and fill with gardening soil.
We did our very best with these instructions, detailing each step. However, if we missed something or you have a questions, please leave a comment here so we can help you! Enjoy your new gardening boxes and the treats that you’ll produce! Such as these…