Cedar Raised Planter Beds Built for "Square Foot Gardening"

Picture of Cedar Raised Planter Beds Built for
In this instructable I will cover the design elements, construction, installation and maintenence of two raised planter boxes I built for my vegetable garden. The two boxes are identical, with the small exception of the vertical trelises on each one for growing vining species such as peas, watermelon, pumpkin and cucumber.

The dimensions of each planter are 4 feet by 8 feet by 11 3/4 inches deep. The specific width and length is important, as these planters were built in order to employ the "Square Foot Gardening" method, which is supposed to conserve space, water, seeds and effort. the 4 by 8 foot dimensions also allow the planters to be built with minimal material wastage using nominal sized lumber.

The planters are built out of redwood cedar lumber. Cedar is very expensive (materials cost about $130 per planter) but it is naturally resistant to rot, termites and damage from sunlight. It's also very beautiful wood and a pleasure to work with because it's so soft. As an added bonus, sawing and drilling cedar fills your workspace with a pleasing aroma.

I tried to provide enough detail on methods and techniques that anybody should be able to build these and do a professional looking job; even if you're a beginner.

Please read on to find out how you too can build these planters.
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PaleoDan3 years ago
Very nicely done. It looks great. One option might be to add those solar post. Caps on the corners to enjoy your craftsmanship at night!
EcoMotive (author)  PaleoDan2 years ago
I found a pack of eight solar post caps and installed them on the planter beds a little while ago. The cedar ones split up and bleached out anyways. At night they look fantastic. Thanks for the suggestion.
EcoMotive (author)  PaleoDan3 years ago
That is a great idea and I'm definitely going to look into that. Thanks for commenting.
TCGKennedy2 years ago
Just a idea that i happen to love. Look in to buying a Kreg Jig. once you use it you wont stop
Very nice instructions; clear and concise! I especially like that you explain that you must pick through the wood to buy the best for your project. Wood projects can be bad or good depending on the wood you buy. (I kinda think it's like buying eggs without opening the carton.)

One question: did you consider using a mortise and tenon joint on the boards connecting to the posts? It would have saved having to guess about where the screws would go. It also negates the need for corner bracing.

Using your instructions for small beds, cross ties are not needed. Soil weighs about 78-81 pounds per cubic foot. You could use exterior bracing to avoid using ties in larger boxes. The only concern I have is in later years when someone uses a shovel to break up the soil and would go too deep and break the tie.

But those are just my observations from my own trial and errors of making raised beds. Your Instructable is polished and very attractive. Thank you!

EcoMotive (author)  The_Monkey_King2 years ago
I would have loved to do mortise and tenon joint construction on the planters but I'm afraid that I don't have to tools or the skill to do so. This build was more aimed for the beginner who probably shouldn't attempt to do that either.
I think the corner braces and center tie would hold up pretty good against the occasional poke with a shovel. Even if they broke, the corner braces aren't of much use after the bed is placed and filled and the center tie could be easily replaced.
Thanks for commenting. Your input is greatly appreciated.
AndyGadget3 years ago
Great Instructable!
Well written, excellent detail, clear photos (and lots of them) and a beautiful end-product.

The other advantage of 4' wide beds is that you can comfortably reach all of the bed without having ever to stand on the soil.  I just had to do the first few repairs on my raised beds after 12 years of good service.  Mine are of slightly thinner pressure-treated lumber and nowhere near as attractive as yours.

EcoMotive (author)  AndyGadget3 years ago
Your garden certainly makes up for anything your planters may be lacking. It looks fantastic! Thank you for your comment.
Those are great looking beds. Great instructions, too. :D