Cedar Raised Garden Beds made from Fence Pickets - Single Width

Submitted by Ana White on Thu, 03/19/2020 - 11:35
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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.

dimension diagram of cedar raised beds
Dimensions are shown above.


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.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Table Saw


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.

Help Improve This Plan

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Gwyn (not verified)

Tue, 05/18/2010 - 04:42

Greetings from Juneau, Alaska!
Your blog is wonderful. We made our raised beds out of cinder blocks. Would you believe that cedar was more expensive 10 years ago. Now that we have Home Depot, I'm off to check out the scrap ben. Cedar fence boards would work great for making flower boxes too. I can't wait to get started.
Keep up the great work!

thorman (not verified)

Tue, 06/01/2010 - 12:07

Loved this plan! Made one raised bed for myself and a modified small one for my 7 year old daughter who loves to garden. Instead of ripping a board (don't have the right saw to do that) I used a pack of 24" stakes and cut them down to size. Thank you so much for making a garden bed design so affordable. ~ Sue

Tara (not verified)

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 15:21

Could these be painted or stained? Or is that not recommended for growing vegetables in it? I really want to make this, but we don't have any equipment. Just a hammer and screwdriver. Are the saws necessary? Could I just have the store cut them?

Ana White (not verified)

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 16:14

Tara, see here on how I'm building 28 planters today. It's a little less refined looking in the end but simplified. You could ask your local home improvement store to cut the boards and then use a hammer nails and glue to put the beds together. The link is here http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs529.ash1/31051_3940360166…

As far as painting or staining, I would just maybe do the outsides or use an organic paint or stain so your food doesn't get contaminated.

Good luck with your building projects.

Amanda2760 (not verified)

Wed, 06/09/2010 - 10:06

I am working on making one of these planters. I cut the dog ears off of mine to make it eaiser to get the boards flush. But after I did this I had to adjust some of the other measurements. I made the 17 3/4 inch sides 17 1/4 in order to get enough out of the shorter boards.

I also cut the corner posts at 12 inches not 11 so that it was as long as the 2 6 inch boards.

Will post pictures when they are finished!

Diana (Ladybug… (not verified)

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 19:44

Hey, Ana, finally blogged about my beds here: http://holesinmyshinyveneer.blogspot.com/2010/05/raised-garden-beds-la-….

I didn't include anything technical that would help anyone, though -- sorry! I did my corners a bit different-- used cedar 2 x 2 balusters on the inside. I also made supports with leftover picket pieces that I screwed on the inside to keep those long sides straight.

Thank you for my first project! I can use a chop saw unassisted now!

Rustic Cedar (not verified)

Thu, 09/09/2010 - 02:52

[...] How to Build Big Cedar Raised Beds for $10 — Ana White UPDATE: Here's those cedar beds I built for $10 bucks each . just before the moose ate the entire garden I can't rave enough about these beds, my garden was amazing and super low maintenance. BUILD THESE. [...]

holleigh (not verified)

Sat, 10/30/2010 - 20:41

Hi Ana,

I am sooo obsessed with your website.
I wasn't sure where I could email you this information.
In case you are interested, I tried downloading the PDF plans for your $10 raised planter beds above, but an error was thrown.

Love love love Knock-off Wood!

santhony (not verified)

Mon, 01/17/2011 - 18:42

Those poor Moose look starved! I hope that your hard work at least went to helping them out!

I'll be looking this up again in a few months once our snow goes away...