DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

When we first moved in to our home a few summers ago, one of the first things my husband suggested was that he build some planters along the fence on our patio to give me a lot of gardening space. I shot the idea down, because, well, I was crazy at the time. My mom had terminal cancer, and my stress levels were through the roof. I just couldn't think straight and obviously made an irrational choice. Looking back now, I wish I had let him. I tried growing everything in pots of all sizes instead, and even though it worked, the boxes were always calling my name. 

I found some great DIYs on the internet and decided to build my own boxes this year. You can see how I built mine below.

FIRST STEPS 

The first thing I did was head over to Home Depot, and check out their cheap lumber situation. I found some cheap cedar fence pickets for about $2.50-$3.00 each, and got enough to make 3 boxes that are each about 16 inches deep, 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. 

I also picked up some 2" x 3" studs (for the corner posts) and headed to the back of the store for them to cut my studs and fence pickets to size. 

(Tip: If you don't have your own power saw, Home Depot will actually do quite a few free cuts before they charge you. I didn't have to pay for any cuts for this project.)

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

WHAT I BOUGHT

Here is what I picked up:
+ 25 - Cedar Fence Pickets (5.5" x 6') Not the dog-eared ones

Here is the breakdown per 2' x 6' x 16" raised bed:
+ 76 Exterior Screws
+ 8.3 Fence Pickets - 6 will form the long sides, 2 will be cut into thirds to form the short sides, and you'll use 1/3 of an extra picket for the cross beam. (Since I did 3 beds, I was able to use 1 picket to do all 3 cross beams!)
+ 1 Stud - have it cut into 17" pieces. This will give you 5.6 pieces. You'll actually use the .6 piece, too! 

BUILDING THE RAISED BEDS

1. You'll use 3 pickets per each 6' side, and 1 picket cut into thirds per each 2' side, plus 1/3 of a picket for the cross beam. The studs will need to be cut into 5 pieces each 17", and the leftover piece can be used as well.

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

2. Lay two 17" studs on the ground with the 3" side facing up. (Not like the picture above, it's standing up. You'll want to work flat on the ground, it's much easier. I didn't get any photos of the first part because I was learning.) Then lay 3 of the 6' fence pickets on top of them in a row, and line up the edges of the pickets with the edge of the stud. Make sure to make them flush with one corner of the stud, so there is about a 1/2 inch piece of stud showing on the opposite end. (This will allow for drainage of your water if you're putting these on cement like I am.)

SPECIAL STEP: PRE DRILL YOUR HOLES. I promise you will not regret it. It's a huge hassle if you don't. The fence pickets are really easy to split and will definitely do so if you don't! I learned this the hard way. 

3. Drill in 2 screws spaced out per picket into the stud. (It helps if you leave a little room between them for the short-sides to be screwed in later.) Once you've completed both sides, you'll have what looks like one side of the box. 

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net
DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

4. Repeat this same step one more time (if you're doing 3 boxes like me, you'll do it 5 more times).

5. To make the vertical support posts that will be used for the cross beam, use a 17" piece, just like you did for the corner posts, and one of the smaller leftover stud pieces. You will be using these for vertical posts in the middle of the 6' sides. Use 2 screws per each picket for this as well. I used the 17" post for the front of the boxes, and the shorter post for the back of the box for aesthetic reasons (I liked the look of 6 screws perfectly going down the middle of the front). I also vertically centered the shorter post across the pickets, to make sure it is attached to all of them. This will help prevent any of the long boards from bending outward when the soil expands and presses against them.

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

6. Next, take 3 of the 2' picket pieces and line them up flush with the edge of your 6' box side you've already made, and drill/screw them into the 2" side of the stud on one side of the 6' box wall. This will make the side walls of your raised beds. Then repeat the process by attaching it to the other 6' side in the same manner. (See above photo for reference.) This part is a little tricky, because you have to stand the long sides up to do them. 

7. Repeat until you've finished your box, or until you've finished all 3! (Now step back and notice how it looks like you're making an old western pine box coffin. I may have tested out laying in it because I'm that weird.)

8. The last step is to attach the cross beams. Your boxes look done, but without the cross beam, when you add soil, and water it, it gets quite heavy and will expand and break your long box sides. The cross beam adds support against the weight. Center the last small piece of fence picket across the inside of the box. You will attach to both of the center posts. I used 2 screws per side. 

You may need to have this piece cut down a little further. I ended up having to take off a quarter-half inch on them so they'd fit on a couple of them. (Since I don't have tools, I had to go BACK to Home Depot to get that done.) 

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

When you fill the box with dirt, you won't see the cross beam anymore, but it will still be there doing it's thing. 

FINISHING TOUCHES TO YOUR RAISED BEDS

1. Staple weed cloth to the inside to hold in the soil from coming out of the cracks in the upper levels of the box. I did it to the top two-thirds. 
2. Line the bottom with large wood chips or gravel (to also increase drainage). I recommend gravel. I went with wood chips, and I think gravel would have been better.

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

SOIL FOR YOUR RAISED BEDS

Now your boxes are ready to use! You don't want to scrimp on soil, so make sure you get a great mixture or mix it yourself. (This is a great article on what you want in your soil.)  I filled them with a pre-mixed grow box soil that had lots of the nutrients, compost, and other organic material she mentions in her post. 

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net
DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

HOW THE RAISED BEDS ARE WORKING

The boxes are doing quite well this year, and I'm excited to see everything growing. They have barely faded at all despite being exposed to triple-digit heat. They hold water very well, and just drain out the bottom. I only have to water 1-2 times per week depending on how hot it is, because the soil is drying out a LOT slower than my pots. I used to have to water my pots every single day or things would die.  

I've had a few drainage issues in one box (I found out my patio has a trough I wasn't aware of where ALL the water goes), that I think will be fixed by drilling some holes in one of the boxes, and as the temperatures have heated up, it seems to be drying out faster. I've also had a few soil issues which I think are improving over time. We'll have to see how they hold up over the winter. I'm very interested to see how they handle our snow and hard freezes!

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net
DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

ARE THESE RAISED BEDS A GOOD IDEA?

This turned out to be a great project. I spent about $100.00 to build all three boxes (not including the soil.) If you've ever researched cedar raised bed kits, you'll know I spent about 30% of what one fancy box kit costs to build all three of mine! It was well worth the time and small learning curve to build them. I rather like the rustic look they bring to the patio, and after it rains, the cedar wood makes the patio smell like the mountains. Also, the patio looks really clean all the time, which is a vast improvement, and really opens up the space for other things -- like, my regular workouts, or lounging in one of the chairs and reading. 

DIY Cedar Raised Beds For Your Patio Garden // www.thejoyblog.net

This was my first lumber project ever, and I have to say, for how big they are, it was really easy. I highly recommend them!

To see what inspired my boxes, check out this awesomely titled DIY by the DIY Diva. Raised Garden Beds: The Holy-Shit-I-Built-These-For-$25 Edition. I also sent her a message to find out how they've held up over time, and she says it's been a few years of them getting rain, sun and snow, and they're still holding up great! Hopefully, mine do the same!

++ Have you built these boxes? Let me know how they worked for you! 




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