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

Jennifer (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 05:14

ROTFL at Leslie! Coffins! I just snorted coffee everywhere when I read that!
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Awesome plans Ana! I JUST built raised beds last month using fir because cedar was triple the cost. Bummer! I would have much preferred cedar! :)

Viola (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 05:59

Ana I love the size of these. You will have to post pics of yours finished and set up with plants. These are going to be perfect for me also. Maybe I can get mine built next week. Hopefully this last snow storm is our last for the season.

Sue (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 07:57

one more question...what does it mean to "rip" the corner posts? is this just cutting them into strips? can you do it with a miter saw?

thanks!

Amy (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 08:31

"ripping" is cutting a board along it's length. I can't see how you could do this with a miter saw. even a circular saw would require bracing and getting a straight edge. If you don't have a table saw I would spend a bit extra lumber you don't have to rip for those pieces.

Jennifer (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 09:00

Or... on a QUIET evening, a blue or orange employee might rip them for you in the store. :) At orange, the first two cuts are free.

Leslie (not verified)

Fri, 05/14/2010 - 10:24

Hi Ana!

Looking at the cut list, you have 2 1x6's at 72 inches. For some reason, I'm looking at the pictures and it looks like each side used two boards so wouldn't that be FOUR boards at 72 inches? I could be making this up, though. I've been painting all day and I'm tired.......

gracefulvintage (not verified)

Sat, 05/15/2010 - 15:19

I'm definitely going to build these!
When you get a chance.... I'd LOVE to see a plan for potting bench with an upper shelf for small pots and large bottom shelf to store larger pots and supplies. I have scrap wood that I'd like to use and need a place to work and store stuff.