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

Sharon J (not verified)

Wed, 07/18/2012 - 17:21

Cedar? Really? Cedar is placed as a ground cover to prevent growth of weeds. It releases an oil that is toxic to many plants. New strats have the biggest struggle. The same is true for black walnut. In fact, if you put you garden box down anywhere near a black walnut tree, you will have a very hard time growing plants. That goes double for tomatoes. Don't plan a garden near a bank of cedar trees, either. As for gardens made of cedar, the boxes may be durable, but this gardener warns against it. Better yeilds will come from a pine box.

Sharon J (not verified)

Wed, 07/18/2012 - 17:21

Cedar? Really? Cedar is placed as a ground cover to prevent growth of weeds. It releases an oil that is toxic to many plants. New strats have the biggest struggle. The same is true for black walnut. In fact, if you put you garden box down anywhere near a black walnut tree, you will have a very hard time growing plants. That goes double for tomatoes. Don't plan a garden near a bank of cedar trees, either. As for gardens made of cedar, the boxes may be durable, but this gardener warns against it. Better yeilds will come from a pine box.

Sharon J (not verified)

Wed, 07/18/2012 - 17:21

Cedar? Really? Cedar is placed as a ground cover to prevent growth of weeds. It releases an oil that is toxic to many plants. New strats have the biggest struggle. The same is true for black walnut. In fact, if you put you garden box down anywhere near a black walnut tree, you will have a very hard time growing plants. That goes double for tomatoes. Don't plan a garden near a bank of cedar trees, either. As for gardens made of cedar, the boxes may be durable, but this gardener warns against it. Better yeilds will come from a pine box.

Erin C. (not verified)

Mon, 07/23/2012 - 14:23

Drat! I wish I'd found this post earlier.... Hubby & I spent a FORTUNE (so not kidding, like over $300!!!) at the Wasilla Lowes on heavy duty treated lumber + industrial plastic for lining to keep chemicals from leaching, to build our raised beds this Spring. Ugh. Stupid me :(

Jeremy Bryant (not verified)

Sat, 10/13/2012 - 06:38

I actually build variations of this as a side business as a stay at home Dad. Mine have been going over a year now planted in the yard. Also, Western Red Cedar is not easily available in Central CA. Here and other places you can use "White Incense Cedar" or "Redwood". I use both in my planters, keep in mind though, if you don't keep this wood wet, the boards SHRINK as you buy them wet. Keep it wet and it will last a long time! Many pictures of what I build at: www.facebook.com/rootedbydesign
www.rootedbydesign.com

CEFreeman (not verified)

Thu, 10/18/2012 - 22:19

Thanks for the plan! I start building again tomorrow.

Long Fence, a national chain, sells weathered & checked material for very little. I had plans to make my front yard a courtyard with Reuse center pavers and 6x6s I got from them.
I got 50, 10' to 16' long,6x6s for $8.00 each.
I got 25, 2" x 12" x 20' long boards for $9.00 each.
I bought a palette of 125, 6' fence pickets for $1.00 each. Those, when unbound, turned out to be cedar.

My point is not to limit yourself to the Big Box. I hooked into this thru a Craig's List offer they had here in the Washington, DC area. I learned from them that they often have wood homeowners won't take because it's weathered. They want "new". I guess they don't remember their own "new" fence will weather. Go figure! Our gain.

Thanks again for the plan. I like the finished look!

Kelona (not verified)

Sun, 11/04/2012 - 19:59

I am planning to build some raised beds and intended to use free pallets, but the labor of driving all over the place, loading, unloading, etc is getting a bit intense. I'm hoping these are the correct planks to use, they are on sale for just 75 cents where I'm at (Home Depot, Wichita, KS! Is that possible? Can anyone confirm if I'm looking at the right planks?

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202521917/h_d2/ProductDisplay?c…

Thanks so much for your blog. I have pinned tons of projects, including your beginners how to get started post, and have awesome plans for the future. Just gotta stock up on my tools. ;)

Oh! Are there any brands that you recommend/don't recommend we buy when buying tools for the first time? Thanks a bunch!

DonnaM (not verified)

Sat, 12/08/2012 - 10:22

Thank you for these plans! I teach Environmental Science at a high school in Houston, TX, and I have my kids plan and plant a garden when we get to our food and agriculture part of the curriculum. These boxes will be great for keeping the weeds down, and I am planning on making a few with bottoms and up on supports for the one student I have this year who's in a wheelchair.

We have no budget for the garden, so everything comes out of my pocket (which is usually the case for teachers.)
I was desperate to find something affordable so she could be involved with everyone else, and these boxes will make that possible now. Again, many, many thanks!!!