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

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?