Counter Height Garden Boxes 2 feet x 4 feet

Counter Height Garden box are easy to build and great for those of us that just can't get down on the ground any longer. These would make a wonderful present for your mother or grandmother. You can build three for nearly the price of one so consider 3 family or friends that might want these. I have 6 for myself and absolutely love them. Absolutely do not us Treated Lumber. This will defeat the purpose of having a healthy garden and healthy vegetable. So don't skimp here.


Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!


Author Notes: 

I was inspired to make this project because I love to garden but have neuropathy in my extremities making it very difficult to get off the ground once there. I have made myself 6 of these and am so pleased that I thought I'd share the pattern. perfect cuts are unnecessary as long as you are within 1/4 inch you will be okay.

Shopping List: 

2 - 4x4 fir or cedar post (fir is cheaper and lasts nearly as long)
2 - 1x8x8 cedar boards
2 - 1x3x8 cedar boards
1 - roll of 1/4" hardware cloth 50x24" (make sure to get hardware cloth with 1/4" holes, 1/2 inch is too large and all your dirt will fall through)
16 - 2 inch 14-20 hex bolts
16 - washers
16 - Threaded inserts (
12 - 1 1/2 inch brass or galvanized screws

measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
General Instructions: 

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

24" x 48" x 32"
Cut List: 

Legs: cut the 4x4's into 4 - 32 inch legs
Sides: cut one of the 1x8x8 into 2 - 48 inch lengths
Ends: Cut one of the 1x8x8 into 2 - 24 inch lengths
Bottom slats: cut the 2 - 1x3x8 into 6 24 inch lengths
Bottom hardware cloth: cut the hardware cloth into a 24x50 inch rectangle.

Step 1: 

the picture above is just so you can see me marking the 4x4 legs. I actually mark them in the standing position.
I cut all pieces out and assembled the bed using one or two pin nails on each side of the leg to hold together...I then used a hand drill to drill the three or two holes(which ever you decide on) onto each side piece only going through the the side piece and only marking the legs. The leg holes really need to be drilled as straight as possible and at the depth you need for your bolts. I used a drill press to make sure of the depth and that the holes are very straight to except the thread inserts.
You can read the bit below for other info but I would definitely use the hand drill for marking the legs.
Drill your three holes in the 1x8 pieces then place them against the 4x4 pieces in the location they need to be(I set up all the pieces and number the legs and the boards and draw arrow for the top on the boards for later reference then using one pin nail on each side to hold it all together I mark where the holes will go on the legs) and using a center punch hammer into each hole marking the 4x4 so you can drill the corresponding holes. I used all 1/4-20 screws and I used E-Z LOK threaded inserts instead of drilling all the way through the 4x4. I made sure that I drilled the hole deep enough in the 4x4 so that when I inserted the thread and bolted the sides on I would be able to screw them on tight.

Step 2 Instructions: 

He is an image of the planter upside down with the 1x8 bolted into place

Step 3 Instructions: 

Attaching the hardware cloth. I made sure that when the planter was together that it was no more then 24 inch wide this way the hardware cloth would fit the width without me having to sew together or cutting down the width. I only had to cut the length because I purchase hardware wire that was 24 inches wide by 25 feet long. I can make 6 planters with this one roll of hardware wire.

Step 4 Instructions: 

close up of how staple the hardware cloth around the legs.

Step 5 Instructions: 

Once the hardware wire is stapled into place I need to add slats to the bottom so that the weight of the soil will not pull off the hardware cloth.

Step 6 Instructions: 

placing the slats equal distances apart and screwing into the bottom using two screws in each end of each slat.

Step 7 Instructions: 

The planter turned right side up

Step 8 Instructions: 

another close up

Step 9 Instructions: 

used coconut cloth in the bottom however you could use newspaper, compost or anything that isn't harmful to the soil and your plants to keep the dirt in.

Step 10 Instructions: 

And this is how my garden grows.

Preparation Instructions: 
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.
Project Type: 
Estimated Cost: 
Skill Level: 


If you use the wider cloth sold as weed control for under mulches you can make wider beds. It also holds dirt in better than hardware cloth.

With these beds, you really HAVE TO have a good watering system and use potting soil mix that holds water, because they are shallow and exposed top and bottom.

Making these larger would probably not be a good idea...the dirt is very heavy and the boxes will not last as long. You would somehow have to add more legs to hold all the dirt. So bigger isn't better. Hardware cloth is the best solution because it is galvanized and will last as long as the cedar will last. weed control cloth is not strong enough to support the dirt and will only last a couple years. Use hardware cloth...if you did want to make bigger it comes in all different widths and sizes. I have 6 of these and have make about 10 for other people. Mine are holding up wonderfully and I do not have any watering system. Good drainage is best with I am getting a wonderful abundance of vegetables directly related to the fact these have great drainage and the plants are not sitting in water after a good rain. I'm sorry but with all due respect I do not suggest any change in size or the hardware cloth. I have lost no dirt at all....on the last garden I didn't even use compost as a first layer, I just added garden soil and lost very little when installed. The soil compacts it's self. These are wonderful gardens for elderly people.

Thx for the plans! I've been planning to create something similar once we've settled into our new place. I suspect the soil here is fairly heavily contaminated from pesticide use so raised beds with controlled soil is definitely the way to go. Also this avoids hungry bunnies and other critters too :-).

I had considered using tote-type bins in similar stands but I love your hardware cloth idea. Do you cover them in the winter to preserve the soil? Have you had any problems with high winds? These are things I've been wondering about as I plan.

Thx again and I'll post again when I've built some - definitely before spring!

I only cover mine when I do not have anything growing, I cover with black trash bags opened up and tucked down the sides, a bit like you would water bed sheets. I do this so weeds do not grow in my beds. Because of the weight of the soil I have not had any problems with wind knocking them over. These things are really sturdy with those 4x4 legs. I absolutely love mine and will be making more...I'm getting more vegetables than I ever have in any other garden box. Good luck. I will tell you that it cost me about the same to make 3 as it did to make one. I made sure to buy the hardware cloth large enough for three this made it cheaper. You can get 3 legs from one 4x4 post so if you buy 4 posts you have 12 legs.

I found some really heavy duty scissors to cut the hardware cloth, this was so much faster than wire cutters....I got some great ones at home depot for about $14.99.

I used to have more time and a great big garden, but i am more selective now since i work for this big used cars place in Worcester. These boxes would be great for cut lettuce (white chicory). you can baby them protect them, right amount of sun..or shade..

These supplies only make one. However you will end up with 3 extra legs. It is more economical to make 3 because you only need 4 - 4x4 cedar/fir post and these are the most expensive supply. increase all the other supplies by 3 and only purchase 4 posts.

There is a new product out there called TimberSil, I haven't seen it but it might be available there. You want to stay away from treated lumber unless you can find something treated in an eco friendly manor. You can use pine but for garden sides I would use 2 inch thick material. It will not last as long as one made using cedar or fir but it might give you a few years. Or you could use what you can find then line the whole garden with something so that the wood chemicals are not seeping into your soil.

We live in the desert SW where we get hardly any rain. How would you recommend we water our counter height garden beds? We currently have a system running along the ground, not buried. Should we just raise these hoses to the height of the beds?

You could run a drip hose up one of the legs but I just go out and water everyday or every other day depending on the heat. I generally do it in the morning before work. It's a great way to use left over bath water if you're trying to conserve water. If you have a window near the tub use a siphon hose and just siphon the water into your gardens.

Hi! Great plans. We are going to make these this weekend. I was just curious as to why you used the threaded inserts vs. just screws. I have never used them so just wondering about the benefits.


First is because it is cheaper than purchasing long bolts and nuts, and then it was easier to drill holes the length of my 2 inch bolts versus drilling all the way through (takes a long drill bit) and also since most of the bolt is hidden I felt they would last longer. I did first start with the long bolts until I found these thread inserts. Your bolts and threads need to be 1/4-20's. Screws would be a poor option, since you are spending so much on cedar so that they will last for about 8 years screws tend to work their way out of wood and get stripped out eventually and with bolts you can just give a check up at the beginning of each year and tighten if necessary where screws will loose this ability after a few years. My gardens are a couple years old now and I've not had to tighten them yet. Grainger is the cheapest place to get these threads otherwise you pay for a pack of 8 and that's just not cheap. So if you can't order from Grainger I'd go with longer bolts 4" and use lock washers behind the nut and flat washer in front of the nut. Good luck! I hope you post a picture!

Are you using 1x6 boards? Or 1x8 boards. Both the shopping & cut lists say 1x6, but the directions list 1x8. Also, have you thought about adding wheels? We have limited yard space, it would be very helpful to be able to move these into storage during the off season.

Sorry to be confusing. The beds can be with 1x8's or 1x12's and even 1x6's. I have both 1x12 deep and 1x8 deep. Wheels would be a good addition if your yard isn't too bumpy :)
You can get those furniture movers that have wheels on them cheaper than you can purchase the wheels. Harbor Freight has these on sale for 7.99 this week and they hold up to 250 lbs. if you have a harbor freight around. Good luck with your garden!

Some tricks for pinching pennies on this lumber.
Treated lumber is easier had.
Decking lumber is cheaper and stronger than 1x's
Instead of 2 - 1x6x8 cedar boards,
I'd double the height to 12'' with 2 - $7.37 WeatherShield 5/4 x 6 x 12 Pressure-Treated Standard Decking Boards and
2- $4.37 WeatherShield 5/4 x 6 x 8 Pressure-Treated Standard Decking Board cut to 4' lengths.
The slats??
8' Treated Fencing pickets ripped in half and split in two. Yielding 4 slats per picket of $2.00 ea.--$0.50 a slat.

Caulking Wood glue is your friend, especially in the holes/seams to seal them.

It's a very workable idea....early spring/summer easily covered for late frosts and soiled warmed with black plastic garbage bags in full sun. Easily moved (when wheeled) to broken shaded areas in mid to late summer so crops don't burn up. No moles or gophers to deal with and easily mulched to be weedless. No back strain bending over crops dealing with them. A wading pool would make a good water storage for a small drip irrigation pump on a timer using 1/4" plastic tubing with holes poked in it eva 12 inches layed say 1 foot off the sides length ways down the box. That'd be 2 - 8 ft. pieces of tubing plugged at one end and a 2' piece tee'd in with an inlet piece from the pump. Tooless ''push connector fittings'' would make it really simple to hook up the tubing. That way you can add liquid fertilizer and water conditioners if needed for ph and chlorine. TEE's $1.60 ea. ELL's if needed $1.10 ea.

UT14 | Push connect union tee air fitting for 1/4in. OD tubing, 5/pk.
UT14 - NITRA pneumatic push-to-connect union tee air fitting with thermoplastic ...See More
3 hours ago · Like · Remove Preview

Jeff Stasney

EcoPlus Submersible Pump - 396 gph

24 hr multi-setting timer 1@ $5.00

Peat moss the bottom of the bed over the wire to support peat moss enriched soil, as well.

Absolutely do not use treated lumber. People are growing food so that it is better for them if you are going to use treated lumber you might as well get your food from the grocery it would be healthier. Treated lumber is treated with chemicals that will seep into the soil and poison your crop. I have made the side taller (12 inch deep) but I'm having a bit of trouble keeping the bottom on because the soil is so heavy. I think to make the garden deeper you need to place 1x2 cedar strips inside the garden and add stats on top of this and then the hardware cloth over this. The problem with making the gardens bigger or deeper is the weight of the soil.
Irrigation could be nice but since the gardens are so convenient at this height I have no trouble going out every other day to water.

Again I can not stress enough DO NOT USE TREATED LUMBER, it is not safe and will not last as long as cedar. Also do not spray any sealers on your gardens. You can spray with vegetable oil to help maintain the color of the cedar but other than that you want your gardens to be free of any chemicals. If not then don't even bother.

Treated Lumber
Well, line the box with plastic to keep the treated chemicals from leaching in?? Staple gun it in. How's that??
On the soil, lighten it up with peat moss.
1/2 and 1/2 with potting soil.
I was going to use Spanish moss as the medium to hold the soil anyways.
Most craft stores have this cheap.
Ummmmm....A quote: Research on the use of CCA-treated lumber in gardens has shown that treatment chemicals do not affect the growth or safety of home-grown produce.

But, if your worried and wish to error on the side of caution, line the box with plastic to keep the treated chemicals from leaching in?? Staple gun it in.

I could post opposing links to documents that disagree however I will not bother. I grow my own food because I am health conscious, I prefer to error on the side of caution. I have listed in the comments that you could use treated lumber and line it however I have not found any BPA free liner so I would prefer not to do this. Since this is my post and I feel strongly about health and how long my gardens will last I prefer to use cedar and to give this as the best supply to use.
Since I have used treated lumber in the past for ground level as sides to my gardens when I didn't realize the health risk I found the treated lumber only lasts about 3 years before the bugs start to eat at the bottoms. I have cedar ground level gardens that are currently 6 years old and are still holding up well with no signs of bug infestation. I have made over 50 of these raised gardens now and now have 15 in my own back yard. I am very pleased with the results and the way cedar holds up. Anyone using my plans are welcome to change them as they see fit. I suggest using Cedar if you would like your gardens to last.
My suggestion to you is that you create your own plans and post them for everyone using your preferred method and supplies as I am sure there are many people who would enjoy them that are not gardening because they are health conscious but because they enjoy gardening. But I will kindly ask that you please respect my opinion on my plans.
Thanks so much for your understanding,

Janettx, I've also been keeping an eye out for BPA free liners here in Canada and found nothing. I'm with you on the cedar, especially considering I've got dogs and the occasional rabbits & squirrels who might chew on the wood and get sick from the chems anyway. disposing of treated lumber is a problem too.
Besides cedar looks awesome!
Love these boxes, I'm soooo making a bunch for my backyard! Thanks for posting!

hope to see brag posts when you get yours complete. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. :)

I really like these raised beds. I have a large raised bed and it does very well but I like the idea of separate crops in each small bed and the idea that you could make them movable. When you go to the nursery they always ask how much sun a particular location will get. This way you can follow the sun. A lot of work but we all need a little extra exercise.

I agree that using treated wood is like playing Russian Roulette. I build my beds from the cheapest pine and even the fact that they sit on the ground all are in good shape after five years.

As for cost the real cost is the dirt (aka soil) you need to buy to fill them up. It is amazing to me how much soil they hold.


I could not find cedar 4x4's so used pressure treated...and to be on the safe side just used the leftover cedar to make a cover around the 4x4. Worked great and I'll never question it as a possibility of my kids failing their tests at school because they ate the veggies. Solution satisfied me..hope it helps others.


The pictures are a bit old...I have one full of herbs, but because these are so easy to cover for a freeze my herbs are now several years old. I have had luck with broccoli, cauliflower, parsnips, celery, bok choy, fennel, all sorts of peppers, cabbage, all sorts of greens, tomatoes, some root vegetables such as small carrot varieties and turnips. really I've had luck with everything except squash or anything that vines. I put my snap peas and beans as well as my squash, cantaloupe in a ground level raised gardens. I also now just put my tomatoes in pots rather than take up room in my garden for them since they grow so well in pots. I hope this helps. It does take a little bit to get a good soil mix. At first I wasn't planting my vegetables deep enough and I was getting but now we are doing well. We are even trying for trash can potatoes. Good luck with your takes a while to get the hang of growing in raised beds for some but don't give up. You too can grow a nice crop in your back yard!

please remove this post. This comment section is for comments and questions on my pattern only.
Thank you,

First, thanks for the excellent plan. I built two of these for my wife and I to plant some herbs and vegetables, and they look wonderful and seem strong enough to hold 8" of high quality potting soil.

Two notes:
1. Cedar is a less common on the east coast (New Jersey), but I was able to find both 4x4s and planks at the local Lowe's. The wood cost was about $70 per box. Curious how this compares to other parts of the country; glad I didn't have to consider using pressure-treated lumber.

2. The threaded inserts were very expensive here ($1.60 each, not including the bolt/washer), so I ended up using 3/8" galvanized lag screws instead. So far so good, they are quite secure - I guess we'll see how they hold up over time.

Here's a pic of the finished project:

Wow, your gardens look great! Lag screws would be your best choice if using screws. Just keep and eye on them and tighten when necessary and all will be just fine. Your gardens look great and I have a feeling you will want more. One entire side of my yard is full with these gardens. They are getting very old now and I'm thinking of adding a deck platform for them to extend their life. I've also built a cold frame and potting bench with wheels since this post.
and here are some clever plant markers

again thank you for posting your beautiful gardens!