Cedar Raised Garden Beds made from Fence Pickets - Single Width

Submitted by Ana White on Thu, 03/19/2020 - 11:35
Difficulty
Beginner
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Cedar raised beds make gardening easier, more accessible, and more efficient. But a cedar raised bed can cost hundreds of dollars. With this plan, we use cedar fence pickets to build them for about $10 each (ten years ago - cost have increased a little).

These cedar garden beds have lasted over ten years - we still use them every summer.  

You can find the double width plans here.

cedar garden beds

Photo by JESSICA9777 

Why Raised Garden Boxes?

We love raised garden boxes because it's less to weed, brings your working height upward, and uses less soil. It's also great for soil drainage, preventing soil compaction, and keeping unwanted pests out.

We love that raised beds warm up earlier in the spring (so you can plant earlier).

How Much Do Raised Garden Beds Cost?

The downside of raised garden beds is they can be expensive - in the hundreds of dollars depending on the size.  Multiply that by an entire garden worth of raised beds and the cost just becomes prohibitive.

The Secret: Use Cedar Fence Pickets

For a planter, you want to use natural wood because treated lumber releases odors and chemical that you don't want mixed in with your food.  And cedar naturally resists rot and insects, so a great choice for planters.  But standard cedar boards can be expensive.

Cedar fence pickets are made of real cedar and are designed to last and last in the exterior elements.  They cost less than $2 for a 1x6 board, 6 feet long - just a fraction of the cost of a standard cedar board.

I used six boards to build this cedar raised bed, and spent righyt at 10 dollars in lumber (the screws will add a little to the cost)

This exact cedar planter has lasted over ten years without any issues.  We have been very happy with this project and are planning on building more for our garden at our new house.

Dimensions
dimension diagram of cedar raised beds
Dimensions are shown above.

Preparation

Shopping List

6 Cedar Fence Pickets

1x2 Cedar boards for corners (if you don't have a tablesaw)

1″ Screws

2″ Screws

Wood Glue

Finishing Supplies

Garden stakes or concrete stakes (we used a couple of stakes on each bed just to keep the bottoms in place)

Cut List

4 – 1×6 Fence Pickets @ 72″ (Side Panels, you can trim the dog ear off and work with a 71″ Fence post)

8 – 1×2 Fence Pickets @ 11″ (Corner Posts)

4 – 1×6 Fence Pickets @ 17 3/4″ (End Panels)

Optional Top Trim - CUT TO FIT

2 – 1×2 Fence Pickets @ 72″ (Top Trim, I used the non-dogeared ones from the center of the cuts)

2 – 1×2 Fence Pickets @ 19″ (Top Trim, Ends)

Cutting Instructions

Considerations for Size Modifications

If you alter the dimensions of the cedar beds, work with your materials to make sure you have the least waste (and more cedar beds!)  For example, make your end panels a fence picket cut in half for a 6 foot by 3 foot garden bed.

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Drill
Circular Saw
Table Saw

Instructions

Step 1

Optional: Rip your Corner Posts

I’ve done the math, and by ripping one fence post into 4 – 1 1/4″ wide strips, you are saving quite a bit of money (well, that is, if you intend to build a garden full of planters). So set your tablesaw to 1 1/4″ and rip one of the fence posts to 1 1/4″ wide, as shown above.

 

Or Use 1x2 Cedar Boards

If you don’t have a table saw, you can use 1×2 cedar boards.

Step 2

Side Panels

Use your 1″ screws and glue to put together your side panels as shown above. The post will overextend the sides by 5/8″ as shown above.

I also used my Kreg Jig™ to join the boards together in the center (optional) or you can use a 1x2 in the center.

 

Step 3

End Panels

Build your end panels exactly like your side panels.

Step 4

Assembling the Panels

The panels should fit together like a puzzle. Fasten with 2″ screws and glue. Check for square.

Step 5

OPTIONAL: Measure and cut your top trim to fit.  Attach to the top.

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Comments

crf (not verified)

Tue, 03/20/2012 - 19:05

I have used the sawdust and wood glue for alot of yerars and it works great

Photon (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 02:04

Could you please clarify the reason for the 5/8"-inch overhang for the uprights on the ends and sides?
Thanks for another great idea on material!

Mary (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 02:11

not available in my area either :(

The overhang is so that they meet up at the corners to be a combination of decorative and functional to help keep the boards together. Of course this is my assumption, but it seems totally logical!

Mary (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 02:13

oh for screws, definitely use outdoor screws- they are slightly more expensive, but are rust free. I use deckmate screws- they are around $7/lb but come with a special star bit that makes screwing them in a cinch! No slipping or stripping!

Leslie (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 02:48

OK, don't laugh but, when I saw all those planters lined up with names on them, it kinda looked like coffins! Good grief!

Anyhow, this is a PERFECT project for me this year. I want so badly to plant some veggies on the farm but am not quite sure where the final garden spot is going to be. In the meantime, I'm gonna build me some of these babies.

Thanks, Ana! Once again, you're rocking it! Have a super weekend!

Christine (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 03:01

I think we will be trying these. I was trying to find a more inexpensive way to build a planter out front of the house and I think this is a perfect answer. If we get a chance this weekend we will certainly post pics! Thank you!

can it be sere… (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 03:28

Thank you so much for all your great plans.. I work at "blue" and cannot keep up with all the great projects.. i built the sawhorse table the toddler picnic table now im onto the simple outdoor dining table and benches, the raised planter beds are next and i was hoping for a simple square planter box for the front of the house. Keep up the fabulous work i enjoy waiting for your posts on a day to day basis

Mychelle (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 04:21

Ok, I can't believe how timely this is. I have been trying to work on some raised beds, but it has been so rainy and cold here that I am never able to get outside to work. I'm so excited! We are supposed to have decent weather this weekend, and I really want to make these. I was wondering though, if any of the outdoor furniture plans could be easily adapted to utilize these Cedar posts. They are $2.47 at my "Blue" but I think this could make a great outdoor table and bench set. These would probably require more sanding for furniture. How much difference in esthetics would the 1x6 make from the 1x4's? It would be wonderful to have cedar furniture for so cheap.

pixilated2 (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 05:08

Michelle mentioned a potting bench... I second that, I would love your take on a potting bench! Everything else you do is perfect, so why not a potting bench!!! Thanks! ":<>