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

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!