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

britta (not verified)

Sun, 01/23/2011 - 12:50

Ana - I thave a deer problem. I want to build raised beds...but want you to figure out some sort of attractive cover to put over the top to keep the animals out! I envision some sort of frame with a screen "door" that swings up and open so that you can still access the plants when you need to.

In reply to by britta (not verified)

smasumur

Wed, 04/27/2011 - 12:09

And a raccoon problem, as well. I'm thinking of one box with a screen door on top. I'll try to post plans once I actually draw them up. I figured with a $20 screen door from Blue (http://tinyurl.com/3pvavoe) at a 25 degree angle, you need to make one long edge about 15 1/4" taller than the other and the overall box would be 80 1/2" long (door size) and about 32 5/8" wide. That's all based on my rather old recollection of trigonometry. Hinge the door on the taller long edge and open it up to tend to your plants. Cover the screen with plastic and use it to grow in late winter/early early spring.

The other box I'll put 6' long fence stakes (http://tinyurl.com/3lufv24) in the corners and hang mesh netting around it. That way I can have taller climbing plants (beans, tomatoes) in the box. I figured with the narrow width of the box (maybe 4' max) the deer will be unlikely to want to jump in. Raccoons I'm hoping won't try to climb the netting.

Does that sound sane? Anyone else have any ideas?

LenaLoo (not verified)

Mon, 02/14/2011 - 07:16

Hey Ana! Thanks for this plan! It is officially the first thing on my "real" build list (because the first thing on the build list in my head is a boyish play kitchen for my 14 month old). Just wanted to let you know the PDF isn't up for some reason. I like to save them just in case :).

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 16:36

I have rthritis and would like to have these on legs raised for working about 3-4 ft high...any suggestions on how to adapt?

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 04/07/2011 - 21:50

Try her toy box plans!  We made it (and use it as a toy box) and it would be perfect.  Considerably smaller than this, but it's a start!  Good luck!

Tsu Dho Nimh

Fri, 04/08/2011 - 06:49

Make a table of cedar (narrow farmhouse table with shorter legs), and build a bottomless box on the top. Line with landscape fabric and fill with lightweight potting soil.

OR: Build a tall box, filling it in with cement blocks as you add the sides, then line with landscape fabric and fill with dirt. The blocks keep you from spending a fortune on potting soil.

OR:  Stack bales of straw (wheat straw or oat straw, not hay) to the height you want, cover with several layers of newspaper, and top it with 6-8 inches of potting soil.

Eventually the straw will decompose, but it's a commonly used elevated planting bed for leafy greens ans other shallow-rooted plants.

Nate (not verified)

Mon, 04/11/2011 - 14:07

Dirt is HEAVY, especially when wet! You'll have to add a ton of legs and most likely center supports as well if you plan on making the planter span any significant length. I wouldn't go more than 2' without a support.

Also make sure you allow for drainage through the bottom, or you'll end up with the bottom rotting through eventually.