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How to Make Your Own Garden Boxes

There aren’t many things that I love more than gardening.  When February comes I start getting all excited making big plans for my garden.  This year we decided to do garden boxes for the first time.  These are the advantages that swayed me over to the garden box world.

  1. WAY less weeding.  When we built ours, we put newspaper down on the bottom, and then put our soil blend on top.  I have a few weeds pop up, but literally probably 1/8 of the weeds with gardening the traditional method.
  2. Saves your back.  We built ours pretty high, and there is a lot less bending involved.  You can even sit on the edges and reach pretty much the entire bed.
  3. Less messy.  We built stone paths in between our boxes (which also cuts WAY down on weeds) and so when I walk out to my garden I never get muddy – even after heavy rain storms.  This is a major plus when you have kids and they like to be out in the garden.
  4. Better soil.  The soil where is live is definitely not ideal, but the soil in my garden is now ideal because I brought it all in!
  5. Better drainage.  When it rains/snows, the moisture is able to drain down instead of puddle on the ground.  I never have standing water in my boxes.
  6. Aesthetically appealing.  A typical garden is basically just an area of dirt with not much street appeal.  But with raised beds, you can design them however you want and they can look really good!

We put together a complete how-to guide for building your own garden boxes from buying the wood to filling them with soil.

The first step in building anything is to draw up thorough plans.  For our garden space we drew up our plans in Excel, so we could easily take measurements and calculate the amount of materials we would need to purchase.  Our garden plan calls for eight ten foot by six foot garden boxes, some of which have angles to accommodate a circular herb garden in the middle of our garden plot.  Here’s an example of our garden plan.

We decided to use two 2″ by 8″ redwood planks for each side of the garden box with a 2″ by 6″ plank on top of each side wall to make the boxes look better, and make also serve as a bench. The 2′” by 8″ planks are actually 1.5″ by about 7″ resulting in a height of the garden box of about 14″.  This is just deep enough to provide plenty of space to fill with dirt, and is a good height to reduce the amount of bending over you have to do while gardening.

Most garden boxes are made out of redwood or cedar.  We chose to make our boxes out of redwood, mostly because we could purchase thicker, more durable boards for less money.  The 1.5″ thick redwood planks were almost the same price as the .75″ thick cedar planks, so hopefully this helps the boxes last much longer.  Here are all of the boards purchased and ready to go.

Step one is to cut the support boards.  These boards will be used as the frame of the garden box.  I cut each support board 18′” so it would be longer than the box is tall.  This allows 4 or 5 inches of the board to extend below the garden box to help hold it in place, and to keep the box from bowing due to the weight of the dirt in it.  I used a 4″ x 4″ post for each corner of the box, and a 2″ x 8″ board for extra support for each long (10 foot) side of the box.

I began assembly by standing up one of the corner posts and attaching one of the 6 foot lengths of redwood and one of the 10 foot lengths of redwood to the post with a brad nailer.  The nailer was just used to hold the boards in place while I put the screws in.  I attached each board to each post with two 2.5″ galvanized screws.

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