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.

Help Improve This Plan

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Comments

Mike Cornett (not verified)

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 09:23

Sorry for being late to the party, just caught wind of this blog ;) Wouldn't ripping that fence board into 4 be even at 1 3/8", rather than 1 1/4" each? Each board appears to be 5.5" wide.

Thanks for all the help!

In reply to by Mike Cornett (not verified)

dan-k

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 10:35

The sawblade eats up approximately 1/8" per cut. Sawdust has to come from somewhere.

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 03/29/2012 - 10:57

Your plans indicate go to the how to section to watch how to notch the legs in the Farmhouse Table but your search function and website does not show an how to section.

Leigh (not verified)

Tue, 04/03/2012 - 08:29

Where is everyone here from? I think I've called every lumber store in the Northeast and NO ONE carry cedar. I've been told it's not a common item to carry in this region. If anyone has tried making this in NYC Metro area please let me know where you found the cedar! Thanks.

Cobia23 (not verified)

Thu, 04/05/2012 - 11:39

I just built my box using your plans. I know there's a big issues about using PTL instead of cedar. I've read numurous articles about it and feel that it's safe to use PTL. Thats just me.

Anyway, so instead of using cedar I used PTL and paid 1.08 per board at Lowes. I extended the width to 2' and ended up using 6 and 3/4 boards. Thats trim and all. I also, used some deck spindles on the inside corner. I already had the screws and spindles. Didn't take long to assemble. Great inexpensive project for raised beds. Even if you pay double for cedar it's still a low budget project.

Thanks Ann for the plans.

JennyH (not verified)

Tue, 04/17/2012 - 16:37

Tip re: using wood pallets for boards - if you look on craigslist, you can probably find listings for free wooden pallets - you could call around locally. I found a whole mess of free pallets from a local tile store here. I'm planning on using the wood to make raised beds and some other stuff.
=)

Brian Forbes Colgate (not verified)

Tue, 04/17/2012 - 17:14

Problem: Our clay soil in Eastern Ontario, Canada, was eating all the amendments we put into it each year, and rising to the surface over them ... a great annual wast of time and money. The trees our neighbours planted at the back of their yard was also shading the back of our garden area. After putting out stakes to mark the edge of the shade at 4 P.M.

I cleared an area 42' x 8' and covered it all with extra heavy weed barrier. I then made 4 raised beds, each 8 feet long and 4 feet wide, using 2"x12" planks with 4"x4" corner posts to hold the extra weight of the wider beds. I splurged on triple-mix from the garden centre to till them. Into their third year now, they are doing fine. The area around the boxes was covered with pea gravel, so I didn't have to worry about maintaining the grass as the beds were placed immediately behind a flower border. The 4' width means they can be weeded and tended easily from each side.

https://picasaweb.google.com/Brian.at.The.Covenant.Folds/RaisedBedGarde…

jamreed02 (not verified)

Fri, 04/27/2012 - 07:52

Found a guy down the road that was tearing out his old cedar fence. Some of the boards were bad, and most were decayed along the bottoms, but after cutting off the bad spots, I'll have five-food lengths of thick, rough-cut cedar to make free beds... I'll just have to buy glue and screws, and adjust the plans a bit.

T-diggidy (not verified)

Mon, 06/25/2012 - 21:21

I did a lot of research on the web before finding Ana's raised beds. I think these are by far the cheapest (yet still durable) way to build these boxes. It's really clever to use 1x6 cedar fencing board as opposed to regular cedar, or any 2x material. Also the corner detail should last through the seasons.

The only recommendation I would add is to make the corners vertical pieces 1 1/2" instead of 1 1/4" to add more room for the screws and also to capture the 3/4" piece from the other side butting into it.

Also, check the size/length of your fencing cedar as it can vary, and then plan the dimensions for your project accordingly.