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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Easy and inexpensive DIY cedar rasied garden beds with free plans by Ana-White.com!  Uses cedar fence pickets to keep costs low and basic tools.  Beginner friendly.

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.

Pin For Later! 

Cedar Garden Beds

 

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.

Comments

Guest (not verified)

Sun, 04/17/2011 - 17:04

Just finished four out of the six of these we are building. We modified the design and went three pickets high so our garden plants have plenty of root space over our rocky base soil. Even with the modification this design used a very small amount of lumber, and went together very quickly. We had four frames completed by early afternoon.

We ripped our boards which saved a ton of money, and made choosing lumber easy. The last rip of one of these pickets is a difficult and dangerous one. It is an easy cut to lose a finger on so If you are not completely comfortable with your table saw just buy the 1 X 2 boards.

coppercarla

Tue, 04/26/2011 - 10:35

My local Blue is showing them in stock for $1.67 right now.
5/8in x 5 1/2in x 6ft DE Western Red Cedar Fence Board
http://goo.gl/rdzgB

And Orange has them for $1.97 each.
5/8 in. x 6 in. x 6 ft. Western Red Cedar Dog Eared Picket
http://goo.gl/Bjelt

Of course, if you only have Orange in your area, print out the page from Blue and take it in and ask them to match the price!

Going to pick some up this weekend, and give my husband a heart attack when I fire up the table saw. :-)

babysteps

Tue, 04/26/2011 - 20:03

I have quite a few tall pots and large, deep planters that are deeper than any roots will ever grow. Instead of filling them completely with dirt, I go to my stash of styrofoam packing peanuts to fill the bottom of the pot. I have even broken up chunks of styrofoam from electronics packaging like monitors and TVs to fill up large spaces like the tall vase shaped pot on my front porch. I am not sure about chemicals in the styro, so I usually use only for flowers and not edibles.

pmsandagun

Sun, 05/01/2011 - 17:18

This weekend I bought the cedar fence boards from Blue and happily started cutting according to the plans (the tag said they were 5 1/2 x 5/8" However, I soon discovered when drilling my pocket holes that the *actual* measurements were 5 1/4" wide and only 9/16" thick, so nothing fits. I've been having to re-cut recalculate the plan measurements, and I'll possibly have to get more boards. My own fault;I should have double checked anyway. Just wanted to warn everyone that the tags may be incorrect.

vy chi

Sat, 05/14/2011 - 06:54

I am just about to start my raised-beds. Wish me luck for I am not very good at building things!!!!!!. Thank you for the idea.

Frank Luxem (not verified)

Sun, 08/21/2011 - 11:32

I work at the Home Depot on Edinger Ave. in Santa Ana, CA. We have tons of these cedar pickets every day (I'm on vacation right now, so I can't remember the price at the moment). Most of the guys will cut the ends off for you if you want it done in the store, and we don't charge for that. Look for me in the Hardware dept. and I'll gladly do it for you. Also check our cut cart; we sometimes have pickets and other wood scraps for sale for $.50 or a dollar each. Great and easy project and I plan to do it myself!

Guest (not verified)

Mon, 09/05/2011 - 13:06

Unfortunate but maybe choose a different pic for the homepage slideshow? At first glance they look like emaciated horses and it is troubling!

Guest (not verified)

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 11:11

Could I cover the bottom with a tarp or something just in case I need to move these later on?

Kris Watson (not verified)

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 08:57

Hope to be an encouragement to give this a try:

I live in a small city of 150,000, on the corner of two busy streets. I have done some container gardening in the past, but really wanted to plant a BIG garden to see how much food I could grow for my family. I needed more space, but had a lot of Bermuda. I couldn't get anything to flourish.

A couple of years ago, a windstorm destroyed my fence. Insurance replaced it, so I took the undamaged boards from the old fence and built several beds, 24' by 6', in my garden. Free is good!

The one thing I did differently was to cut lengths of a 2x4 the height of the bed and used use as interior corner braces, to which I screwed the boards. The shorter beds from two years ago I secured with stakes. With two levels of fence boards, I needed a better plan.

I just made a blog post about what I did then and what I am doing now...using the fence boards as raised beds.

In my "new" garden, I built the beds on top of the black plastic I used to kill the Bermuda, making an "I" shaped cut in the plastic inside the bed. I folded the plastic up and stapled it to the wood to keep the dirt from washing out through the seams between the boards, using garbage bags to fill in the gaps.

Then I placed cardboard and newspaper on the dirt and started the year-long process of filling the beds and composting in place.

The story is here, if you have an interest. http://krissimplyliving.blogspot.com/2012/02/remembering-garden-from-tw…

LonaPangia (not verified)

Mon, 02/27/2012 - 09:45

Now that you have had these boxes for a few years... How are they doing???

I am attempting to do a raised garden this year and I came across your site. Just seeing if they are lasting???

Crystal12345 (not verified)

Sun, 03/25/2012 - 10:31

I'm curious myself as I just built these for a friend. How are the cedar fence picket beds holding up for everybody????

sistersoe (not verified)

Thu, 03/08/2012 - 03:35

I've heard that spreading cedar shavings around flower beds help keep bugs away, I'm wondering if using cedar boards to make the beds would be effective as well? just a thought.

Wondering if I could add this to his list.....

Breaking Ground (not verified)

Thu, 03/08/2012 - 06:04

I am totally excited to find your awesome blog Ana. $10 Bucks YEA! I went to Blue, Orange & our local highway robbery joint yesterday... I was a bit overwhelmed with the options (or lack there of) for my cedar bed project. My former vegetable garden area is being transformed into a patio area this Spring and I have to create an entirely new garden. I can't wait to get started on these raised beds. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

I did it!! (not verified)

Tue, 03/20/2012 - 12:19

I just found 5/8" cedar boards at my "blue" for 59 cents!! Thought, what the heck. Don't have a table saw, but drew out the dimensions and used a jig saw to cut them out. It took less than a half hour. When I pick my daughter up from school within the next half hour I'm going back for more! I made a beautiful bed for less than $4.00, but I had screws on hand.
I am excited, since I just moved into a house my husband and I had built, the soil quality is not good and I have to have veggies growing or I won't know what to do with myself.
Thanks so much.

Eva | Little C… (not verified)

Wed, 03/21/2012 - 11:55

I want a couple of raised beds :) I tried to make a tiny garden last year with my son, and it turned out a disaster - partly because of bad soil I think and it got flooded by heavy rain. This year I'll try again with these raised beds, good soil and plants. Such a fun project to do with kids - and they will be right outside my sons windows ;)

AMV0801 (not verified)

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 08:18

I am loving the possibilities of this project! Sadly, I've only been able to find cedar boards priced over $2.00 each in my area, but even at that these "from scratch" beds will be less than half the price of any kits I've found. I may go buy supplies and try one out today! We're still a couple weeks away from planting, but starting on these now will give time to adjust sizing and get soil ready. Thanks!

LaurafromMonterey (not verified)

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 12:38

Hi Ana-
Just wondered how these have held up for you. You've had them for about 2 years now, right?

Ana White

Tue, 03/27/2012 - 12:50

Yes, this will be the third year. They have held up great! We used a shovel last year to loosen the soil, and then just planted. I did carrots, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts last year.

There is no signs of rot and since we put rebar stakes around the sides, the boxes have not budged or moved.

I had considered treating the cedar, but was concerned about it getting into our food. Working well so far!

Mike Cornett (not verified)

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 09:23

Sorry for being late to the party, just caught wind of this blog ;) Wouldn't ripping that fence board into 4 be even at 1 3/8", rather than 1 1/4" each? Each board appears to be 5.5" wide.

Thanks for all the help!

In reply to by Mike Cornett (not verified)

dan-k

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 10:35

The sawblade eats up approximately 1/8" per cut. Sawdust has to come from somewhere.

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 10:57

Your plans indicate go to the how to section to watch how to notch the legs in the Farmhouse Table but your search function and website does not show an how to section.

Leigh (not verified)

Tue, 04/03/2012 - 08:29

Where is everyone here from? I think I've called every lumber store in the Northeast and NO ONE carry cedar. I've been told it's not a common item to carry in this region. If anyone has tried making this in NYC Metro area please let me know where you found the cedar! Thanks.

Cobia23 (not verified)

Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:39

I just built my box using your plans. I know there's a big issues about using PTL instead of cedar. I've read numurous articles about it and feel that it's safe to use PTL. Thats just me.

Anyway, so instead of using cedar I used PTL and paid 1.08 per board at Lowes. I extended the width to 2' and ended up using 6 and 3/4 boards. Thats trim and all. I also, used some deck spindles on the inside corner. I already had the screws and spindles. Didn't take long to assemble. Great inexpensive project for raised beds. Even if you pay double for cedar it's still a low budget project.

Thanks Ann for the plans.

JennyH (not verified)

Tue, 04/17/2012 - 16:37

Tip re: using wood pallets for boards - if you look on craigslist, you can probably find listings for free wooden pallets - you could call around locally. I found a whole mess of free pallets from a local tile store here. I'm planning on using the wood to make raised beds and some other stuff.
=)

Brian Forbes Colgate (not verified)

Tue, 04/17/2012 - 17:14

Problem: Our clay soil in Eastern Ontario, Canada, was eating all the amendments we put into it each year, and rising to the surface over them ... a great annual wast of time and money. The trees our neighbours planted at the back of their yard was also shading the back of our garden area. After putting out stakes to mark the edge of the shade at 4 P.M.

I cleared an area 42' x 8' and covered it all with extra heavy weed barrier. I then made 4 raised beds, each 8 feet long and 4 feet wide, using 2"x12" planks with 4"x4" corner posts to hold the extra weight of the wider beds. I splurged on triple-mix from the garden centre to till them. Into their third year now, they are doing fine. The area around the boxes was covered with pea gravel, so I didn't have to worry about maintaining the grass as the beds were placed immediately behind a flower border. The 4' width means they can be weeded and tended easily from each side.

https://picasaweb.google.com/Brian.at.The.Covenant.Folds/RaisedBedGarde…

jamreed02 (not verified)

Fri, 04/27/2012 - 07:52

Found a guy down the road that was tearing out his old cedar fence. Some of the boards were bad, and most were decayed along the bottoms, but after cutting off the bad spots, I'll have five-food lengths of thick, rough-cut cedar to make free beds... I'll just have to buy glue and screws, and adjust the plans a bit.

T-diggidy (not verified)

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 21:21

I did a lot of research on the web before finding Ana's raised beds. I think these are by far the cheapest (yet still durable) way to build these boxes. It's really clever to use 1x6 cedar fencing board as opposed to regular cedar, or any 2x material. Also the corner detail should last through the seasons.

The only recommendation I would add is to make the corners vertical pieces 1 1/2" instead of 1 1/4" to add more room for the screws and also to capture the 3/4" piece from the other side butting into it.

Also, check the size/length of your fencing cedar as it can vary, and then plan the dimensions for your project accordingly.

Sharon J (not verified)

Wed, 07/18/2012 - 17:21

Cedar? Really? Cedar is placed as a ground cover to prevent growth of weeds. It releases an oil that is toxic to many plants. New strats have the biggest struggle. The same is true for black walnut. In fact, if you put you garden box down anywhere near a black walnut tree, you will have a very hard time growing plants. That goes double for tomatoes. Don't plan a garden near a bank of cedar trees, either. As for gardens made of cedar, the boxes may be durable, but this gardener warns against it. Better yeilds will come from a pine box.

Sharon J (not verified)

Wed, 07/18/2012 - 17:21

Cedar? Really? Cedar is placed as a ground cover to prevent growth of weeds. It releases an oil that is toxic to many plants. New strats have the biggest struggle. The same is true for black walnut. In fact, if you put you garden box down anywhere near a black walnut tree, you will have a very hard time growing plants. That goes double for tomatoes. Don't plan a garden near a bank of cedar trees, either. As for gardens made of cedar, the boxes may be durable, but this gardener warns against it. Better yeilds will come from a pine box.

Sharon J (not verified)

Wed, 07/18/2012 - 17:21

Cedar? Really? Cedar is placed as a ground cover to prevent growth of weeds. It releases an oil that is toxic to many plants. New strats have the biggest struggle. The same is true for black walnut. In fact, if you put you garden box down anywhere near a black walnut tree, you will have a very hard time growing plants. That goes double for tomatoes. Don't plan a garden near a bank of cedar trees, either. As for gardens made of cedar, the boxes may be durable, but this gardener warns against it. Better yeilds will come from a pine box.

Erin C. (not verified)

Mon, 07/23/2012 - 14:23

Drat! I wish I'd found this post earlier.... Hubby & I spent a FORTUNE (so not kidding, like over $300!!!) at the Wasilla Lowes on heavy duty treated lumber + industrial plastic for lining to keep chemicals from leaching, to build our raised beds this Spring. Ugh. Stupid me :(

Jeremy Bryant (not verified)

Sat, 10/13/2012 - 06:38

I actually build variations of this as a side business as a stay at home Dad. Mine have been going over a year now planted in the yard. Also, Western Red Cedar is not easily available in Central CA. Here and other places you can use "White Incense Cedar" or "Redwood". I use both in my planters, keep in mind though, if you don't keep this wood wet, the boards SHRINK as you buy them wet. Keep it wet and it will last a long time! Many pictures of what I build at: www.facebook.com/rootedbydesign
www.rootedbydesign.com

CEFreeman (not verified)

Thu, 10/18/2012 - 22:19

Thanks for the plan! I start building again tomorrow.

Long Fence, a national chain, sells weathered & checked material for very little. I had plans to make my front yard a courtyard with Reuse center pavers and 6x6s I got from them.
I got 50, 10' to 16' long,6x6s for $8.00 each.
I got 25, 2" x 12" x 20' long boards for $9.00 each.
I bought a palette of 125, 6' fence pickets for $1.00 each. Those, when unbound, turned out to be cedar.

My point is not to limit yourself to the Big Box. I hooked into this thru a Craig's List offer they had here in the Washington, DC area. I learned from them that they often have wood homeowners won't take because it's weathered. They want "new". I guess they don't remember their own "new" fence will weather. Go figure! Our gain.

Thanks again for the plan. I like the finished look!

Kelona (not verified)

Sun, 11/04/2012 - 19:59

I am planning to build some raised beds and intended to use free pallets, but the labor of driving all over the place, loading, unloading, etc is getting a bit intense. I'm hoping these are the correct planks to use, they are on sale for just 75 cents where I'm at (Home Depot, Wichita, KS! Is that possible? Can anyone confirm if I'm looking at the right planks?

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202521917/h_d2/ProductDisplay?c…

Thanks so much for your blog. I have pinned tons of projects, including your beginners how to get started post, and have awesome plans for the future. Just gotta stock up on my tools. ;)

Oh! Are there any brands that you recommend/don't recommend we buy when buying tools for the first time? Thanks a bunch!

DonnaM (not verified)

Sat, 12/08/2012 - 10:22

Thank you for these plans! I teach Environmental Science at a high school in Houston, TX, and I have my kids plan and plant a garden when we get to our food and agriculture part of the curriculum. These boxes will be great for keeping the weeds down, and I am planning on making a few with bottoms and up on supports for the one student I have this year who's in a wheelchair.

We have no budget for the garden, so everything comes out of my pocket (which is usually the case for teachers.)
I was desperate to find something affordable so she could be involved with everyone else, and these boxes will make that possible now. Again, many, many thanks!!!

NitePagan

Sun, 06/30/2013 - 08:07

I built cedar raised beds out of cedar decking, 3 pieces 5/4" x 6" x 8', actual dimensions were 1" x 5.5" x 8', plus 1 - 2 x 4 cedar. I made 48" x 96" boxes. I cut 1 of the cedar deck pieces into 2 - 48" long pieces. For the corners, I cut the 2 x 4 into 8 - 5.5" long pieces. I then screwed 2 of the 2 x 4 pieces together to form a 4 x 4 block. I used these as the inside corner to screw the decking to. The total cost was $60 to build 2 cedar beds. The other option would have been to make them double height, by cutting the 2 x 4's 11 inches long. This is more expensive then the boxes Ana did, but I could not find cedar fence slats, they appeared to be Northern White Pine which would have deteriorated quickly.

AJdesigns

Sat, 11/16/2013 - 22:04

Great design! I am building these at a larger size for a veggie garden: 17 inches tall (three rows) and 42 inches wide. I am wondering if anyone has trouble with these boxes bowing out in the middle from the weight of the soil inside?

iowachap

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 23:43

I do not really get using wood glue for this. Personally I will omit the glue, if I were to use any type of adhesion I would use something more like indoor/outdoor super strength liquid nails. This is a great plan and I am planning on putting some together probably this weekend. Will post photos. I found the cedar fence boards at Orange box near me, I checked the Blue box and they do not have cedar.

stevenhendon

Tue, 11/18/2014 - 13:23

Are the trim pieces structural or just asthetic?  The reason I ask is that I am pretty utilitarian (yours were quite beautiful) and can make 2 12x4 (almost) foot beds with similar method with only wasting a single 2 foot piece of fence.
 

stefhess

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 14:31

I'm new to gardening and had my hubby build two of these. I love them but wish I would have had him modify the plans and make them wider. Can anyone tell me what they plant in these? It seems like it would be too narrow to do two rows of crops.

Marieadele

Tue, 09/15/2015 - 15:33

I just finished making one of these; are the top edges and wood glue necessary or just for looks? I'd like to leave them off if it won't cause the cedar to deteriorate faster. Thank you!!!

DWinMadison

Mon, 10/19/2015 - 11:10

Absolutely brilliant.  I've built so many things from Ana's designs.  Thanks to you and all who contribute.  I've been dreading replacing my rotted planter planters which are almost exactly this size.  The trade off has alwasy been durability (treated and/or painted lumber) vs. food safety (expensive woods like cedar and cypress).  This project solves meets both needs.  The overlapping/interlocking corners are ingenious.  I will build these this weekend in time to get some collards in them before the first frost down here in Mississippi.  The only modification I plan is to use an additional support about half way down the long sides for added stability.  I like to linte bottoms with hardware cloth and landscape fabric.  Thanks again for the nifty idea!

johnnguyen81

Sun, 09/25/2016 - 00:08

I would like to know how this would be about putting legs on them to make them portable if i need to move them around? Would this DIY be stable above ground?

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