Introduction: DIY Raised Bed Planter

Picture of DIY Raised Bed Planter

While the title of this DIY suggests that I made a raised bed planter, what it doesn't tell you is how raised it actually is.  This planter sits about 30" off the ground, and actually has legs on it.  I know, right?  That's really tall!

This DIY was inspired by Ana White's Plan for Counter Height Planter Boxes.

Materials:

2 - 4"x4" Fir or Cedar post (fir is cheaper and lasts nearly as long)
2 - 1"x6"x8' Cedar boards. Select the boards that have the least amount of knots in them.  You'll thank me later.
2 - 1"x4"x8' Cedar boards. Select the boards that have the least amount of knots in them.  You'll thank me later.
1 - 1/4" Hardware cloth that is at least 24" wide.  This can be found in the landscaping section. 
16 - 2" Long hex bolts. You will likely find these in a bin in the hardware aisle.  Make sure you check every single one you choose to make sure they are all the same.  Some may have been placed there accidentally.
16 - Washers.  Make sure that these fit around your 2" Hex Bolts. Make sure you check every single one you choose to make sure they are all the same.  Some may have been placed there accidentally.
16 - 3/8" Threaded Insert Nuts. If you shop at Lowe's, these will be in one of the drawers of inserts in the Hardware section.  This is what they look like.
24 - 1.5" Galvanized Screws

Drill
1/2" Wood bit
Miter or Table Saw that has the capability of cutting a 4"x4" post.
Wire Cutters or Heavy Duty Shears
Staple Gun
1/2" Staples for Staple gun

Hammer
Screwdrivers
Hex wrench
Measuring Tape
Pencil
Sandpaper
Safety Glasses

Cut List:

Lowe's has a wood cutting service, as do most hardware stores.  They can cut the smaller pieces of wood for you for an additional cost, but it's really cheap. They currently do not have the capability to cut pieces of wood larger than 3" thick. 

Legs - Cut the 4"x4" into 4 - 32" posts.  Lowe's will not be able to make this cut for you. Their saws will not fit this size.  You will need a miter saw or a table saw to make these cuts.
Sides: Cut one of the 1"x6"x8' into two 48" pieces.
Ends: Cut one of the 1"x6"x8' into two 24" pieces.
Bottom slats: Cut the two 1"x4"x8' into six 24" pieces.
Bottom hardware cloth: Cut the hardware cloth into a 24"x50" rectangle.


Full tutorial and other information can be found here: http://rhodylife.blogspot.com/2013/04/diy-repair-hole-in-wood.html

Step 1: Gather All of Your Supplies and Tools.

Picture of Gather All of Your Supplies and Tools.

Make sure that you have everything listed in the Materials list.  These are the tools and pieces that you will need to put together your planter.

Step 2: Cut Your Wooden Boards.

If you were unable to have Lowe's or your local hardware store help out with cutting, you will need to make the cuts to your wood before starting any other aspect of the project.  Make sure you remember the golden rule of carpentry - measure twice, cut once.

Step 3: Sand Down the Corners and Edges of Your Wood.

You don't want to get splinters when you're working in your garden, so spend some time before you start drilling and sand down the pieces of wood.  Spend extra time on the surfaces that will be showing, as you won't want any snags or large pieces sticking out on those. 

I used medium grit sandpaper, and sanded down the edges and the flat ends of all my boards, but not on the 4"x4" posts.  If you'd like to do those too, feel free. My saw didn't leave anything sharp, so I didn't feel the need to do that.

Step 4: Layout Your Planter.

Picture of Layout Your Planter.

On a flat and level surface, lay out what your planter would look like if it was placed upside-down.

This will help you figure out if you have enough space to work, and how the pieces will fit together.

Start with the 4"x4" posts, and stand them up on one edge.

Your end boards will go against the two posts, on the outside.  You will want the boards to go off the side of the post about 3/4" so that when you put the longer side boards up, they will meet at a 90 degree angle around the post.

After you have the side boards up, make sure that your width is accurate by placing one of the bottom support 1x4 pieces across the bottom to make sure they fit.

Repeat this step on the other side of the planter.

Step 5: Measure Your Drill Holes for Your Posts.

Since you will be using 2" Hex Bolts on the post, you will need to stagger the holes that you drill so that they do not interfere with each other in the center of the post. 

Use your measuring tape, mark holes using your pencil at 1.5" and 4" from the bottom of your post, at 3" from the left side.  Rotate your post to the right, and then mark holes at 1.5" and 4" from the bottom of your post, at 1" from the left side.  This will make sure that your screws do not touch each other in the center of your post.

Step 6: Drill Holes in Your Posts.

Using a drill with a 1/2" bit, drill holes where you marked the measurements.  Your holes only need to be 1.5" deep, since your hex bolt will be going through another board as well.  To help make sure you do not go in too deep with the hole, you can make a mark on the drill bit using a marker or a piece of tape. 

When drilling, make sure your board is held down securely, either by using a work bench with a clamp, or by applying pressure with your leg over a flat surface, like a bench.  Drill straight down into the wood and try to keep it as level as possible so you don't break the drill bit.

Step 7: Screw in the Threaded Insert Nuts

Picture of Screw in the Threaded Insert Nuts

For every hole that you drilled into your posts, you will need to add in an Insert Nut. These will help make sure that your hex bolts stay in securely. 

Using a large flat-headed screwdriver, manually screw the insert nuts into the holes. Make sure that they go in straight, and screw them into the wood until they are flush with the surface.

Step 8: Measure Your Drill Holes for Your Side Boards.

First, measure the holes for the long side boards.  Using your measuring tape, mark holes using your pencil at 1.5" and 4" from the top of the board, at 3" from the right side.  Make sure you mark the holes on the side of the board that will be showing on the outside of the planter.

For the shorter side boards, mark holes at 1.5" and 4" from the top of the board, at 1.75" from the right side.  The reason for the extra 3/4" is because the short boards have a slight overhang from the side of the posts.  Make sure you mark the holes on the side of the board that will be showing on the outside of the planter.

Step 9: Drill Holes in Your Side Boards.

Picture of Drill Holes in Your Side Boards.

Using a drill with a 1/2" bit, drill holes where you marked the measurements.  Your holes will need to go all the way through these boards since the hex bolts will also be going into the posts.  Make sure you drill the holes from the side of the board that will be showing on the outside of the planter towards the side that will not be showing.  This will help prevent the board from splintering on the side that will be showing. 

When drilling, make sure your board is held down securely, either by using a work bench with a clamp, or by applying pressure with your leg over a flat surface, like a bench.  Drill straight down into the wood and try to keep it as level as possible so you don't break the drill bit.

Step 10: Check Your Hole Placement.

Line everything back up, like you did in Step 4, and make sure that the holes that you drilled in the boards match up with the holes in the posts. 

This is the most difficult part of the planter.  Chances are, that your measurements will be slightly off, so you will need to make the hole a little larger to accommodate that.  Don't worry about making the hole larger than the head of the hex bolt.  You will be using washers between the board and the bolt, so as long as the hole in the wood isn't larger than the washer, you will be ok.

Keep checking the hole placement until they all line up.

I had to make a bunch of adjustments to my holes too.  You could avoid this issue if you had clamps  or vices and could put your post and board together and then use a drill press to drill through both boards.  But, chances are that you don't have one of those.

Step 11: Attach Your Hardware Through the Side Boards.

Picture of Attach Your Hardware Through the Side Boards.

Once your holes line up, start screwing in the hex bolts using a hex wrench.  Make sure you put a washer over the bolt before you start twisting it into the side boards.

Don't put the bolts through all the way.  You want them to show through to the other side a little bit, but you also want to be able to have enough space on the bolt to thread them into the posts.

Step 12: Attach the Side Boards to the Posts.

Picture of Attach the Side Boards to the Posts.

Once all of your side boards have hex bolts and washers on them, start attaching them to the posts.  It is easiest to both side boards to one post, then do the post that is diagonally opposite, so you end up with two "L-shaped" pieces of the planter.

Once you have the two "L-shaped" pieces put together, you can attach the longer side boards to the remaining posts. 

When all of your bolts have been tightened, flip over the planter, and check everything for sturdiness and for whether or not it is level.  Just be mindful that you likely won't get everything to be perfectly level - that's ok.  If you need to straighten out the legs a bit, loosen some of the hex bolts, and move the legs around, then tighten everything one last time while it is standing on the legs.

Step 13: Cut Your Hardware Screen.

Picture of Cut Your Hardware Screen.

Using a pair of wire cutters or heavy duty shears, cut a 24"x50" rectangle from your roll of hardware screen.  The metal is very sharp, so use caution when cutting this.

Step 14: Attach the Hardware Screen to the Bottom of the Planter.

Flip the planter back over so that the legs are sticking straight up in the air. 

Making sure that your screen is centered vertically and horizontally, use your staple gun to staple the screen to the center of all four sideboards. 

Once the centers are done, you can continue along the length and width of the screen, attaching it to the underside of the planter.

You will need to use your wire cutters or heavy duty shears to make a 4" cut at each corner of the screen so that it fits around the planter.  I suggest that you don't remove the 4" piece, and instead, just staple it along the inside of the planter leg.

Step 15: Attach Your Support Boards to the Bottom of the Planter.

Picture of Attach Your Support Boards to the Bottom of the Planter.

Lay out the 1"x4" boards that will be supporting the bottom.  Space them out evenly, but you don't have to be neurotic and measure.

Using your 1.5" galvanized screws, screw the boards into place.

If your boards have knots at the end, try to avoid them.  The knots in wood are always the hardest parts, and they don't like being hammered or screwed into.  I found this out the hard way.

Step 16: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Flip your planter back over and admire your work! You're done!

You have some options now as to how you want to keep the soil in. I plan on using newspaper, since it's biodegradable, recyclable, and cheap, but you may want to use something else, like planter liner, or coconut cloth.

Full tutorial and other information can be found here: http://rhodylife.blogspot.com/2013/04/diy-repair-hole-in-wood.html

Comments

EduardB20 made it! (author)2017-04-03

I made a slightly different variation of this bed. I changed the measures to something that fit better for my balcony (little bit larger and metric units). I also added more bottom pieces and added fleece planting liner instead of the mesh. For simplicity, I simply used self-cutting screws instead of bolts and insert nuts. I also used some oil for the wood finish, to make the bed last longer.

Here are my measures in metric units:

4x 1.45cm x 18cm x 1.8cm Boards

4x 50cm x 18cm x 1.8cm Boards (side)

4x 90cm x 5.4cm x 5.4cm posts (legs)

6x 73.6cm x 18cm x 1.8 cm (bottom)

Till now the narrow boards plus the planting liner seems to be a good solution to keep enough water in the bed, without drowning the plants.

EduardB20 (author)EduardB202017-04-03

Found a little error in there:

I used 4x 70cm x 18cm x 1.8cm Boards for the sides

LibertyG2 (author)2016-05-22

It's a nice looking bed, but I see several design problems with it that the beginner gardener will not realize until it's too late.

First, the wire mess will sag under the weight of wet soil.

Second, water will drain through the bottom when plants are watered, taking with it soil and nutrients.

Third, even if the bottom were made of side by side boards, water would still drain making it quite a challenge to keep the soil moist.

One easy fix and something I have done with an elevated bed similar to this one is to use a pond liner or 6 mm black plastic and put a small drain hole on the bed. Keeping shallow, elevated beds moist is a challenge, the liner will not cause water accumulation and root rot. Exces water simply evaporates out the top or is absorbed by the roots.

JenniferV26 (author)LibertyG22017-02-19

Good point. I recycle those stupid bags that dirt comes in (I live in a clay area and must purchase soil like this) to line my raised garden box bottoms!

RyanM07 (author)LibertyG22016-05-28

I see you have some experience with raised beds. I have not experienced the sag that you were referring to with the hardware cloth. The boards places beneath them have kept this from happening. Also, I used landscape fabric on top of the hardware cloth and have not lost any soil. The water is draining sufficiently through this fabric too.

J Gazol (author)2016-09-28

Hi,

Great
instructions, am just getting into home veg and herb growing, so this is quite
nice. One question: do you have a version of this which uses wood from shipping
pallets? got a few of them lying around, so would prefer to recycle them
instead of going for new wood. My main doubt is making the legs using the
pallet wood. I live in the tropics so a raised platform is a must, as at ground
level you simply cannot avoid leaf-cutter ants and other assorted pests without
resorting to pesticides, which I don’t want to use. I have lost entire crops of
ginger, spring onions and other assorted edibles to those pesky ants, so I plan
on putting barriers on the legs to keep them from climbing. I also have a bad
back, so a good height will certainly help!

JenniferV26 (author)J Gazol2017-02-19

Were you able to make your planter(s) from the pallets?

erinbkendrick (author)2016-05-01

I'm new to this stuff... This may be a stupid question, but why are screws used instead of nails? Could I use nails if that is already what I have on hand? It looks like the hex bolts make everything more sturdy.

RyanM07 (author)erinbkendrick2016-05-07

When the soil is added, the weight will push out on the boards. This will cause the nails to back out. I would at least use screws as the thread will keep them from backing out. I used lag screws and they worked great.

RyanM07 made it! (author)2016-05-07

This was so fun to make!

RyanM07 (author)2016-05-07

I just made two of these for my mother-in-law. I made them 42" tall so that she wouldn't have to bend over to work in them. I also used lag screws instead of bolts with inserts. They worked great when I pre-drilled the holes.

yeag6154 made it! (author)2016-05-01

This is a great instructable. I used this as a base for our lettuce table. Changed the boards to 5/4 pine, and used 2x4's for legs instead of the 4x4's. Also, I used a router with a round over bit to ease the edges on top.

MatthewM150 made it! (author)2016-04-17

Do you recommend using corrugated cardboard for a liner?

MatthewM150 (author)2016-04-17

Do you recommend using corrugated cardboard for a liner?

MatthewM150 made it! (author)2016-04-17

Great instructable! It was very well written. Home Depot does not carry insert screws. You need to get them at Lowe's (or a different hardware store. Also, they only seem to stock around 10 3/8" insert screws per Lowe's location. Probably best to plan ahead and order online!

RichN9 (author)2016-04-07

Could you paint the planter? Would that be a problem?

SuttonH (author)2016-01-01

Hey, thanks for the plans. I'm making this raised bed for my mother. Got all the parts today, but I'm confused why it does not call for 5 inch ( or so ) hex bolts to get through the 4 x 4. I suspect I'm missing something. Can you clarify? Thanks! Sutton

kealil made it! (author)2015-07-19

awesome instructable. Very well written.

tallone44 (author)2015-05-23

I made it except I made an 8' x 6' "L" shaped planter 35" high so as to accommodate my power wheelchair. I am also adding a ground based raised planter on the two long arms of the planter 12"wide to accommodate tall plants like tomatoes. Layer I will add irrigation to the project.

hirokomusic (author)2015-04-16

It's exactly what I want to make. I will keep you posted! Thank you for posting these instructions.

JohnSawtelle made it! (author)2015-03-30

I used 42" long legs cause we are tall people...:)

used left over for a small shelf on the front too...

6 foot long as well.....:)

Rosstoland (author)2015-03-23

Hello, I built this yesterday with a 12" deep bed, but before I filled it with soil I wanted to see if there was a recommended max load i.e. 6 cu ft of soil weights 120lbs?

Rosstoland (author)2015-03-23

Hello, I just made this yesterday with a 12" deep bed, but before I fill it with potting soil I wanted to see if there was a recommended max load i.e. 6 cu ft of soil weights 120lbs, can this structure bare that weight?

singerbeth (author)2015-03-15

My husband and son made this together. Actually they made 2 of them. They made them with a few changes: Ours are 2'x4', and they actually had enough material leftover to make a small 2' squared one, a little shorter. I'm thrilled with them and can't wait to plant my garden! Thank you. By the way, found this on Pinterest! :-)

(3rd attempt at posting this. Hope there aren't multiple posts.)

Garrigus made it! (author)2014-08-02

Thank you for the idea. I made this but made it deeper. I used lag bolts with fender washers on the sides and added furring strips inside to hold the bottom slats. In addition to all this I added 2 layers of landscaping fabric. I used 2x4s for the feet because 4x4s are expensive. It is really solid.

MisterMacleod made it! (author)2014-07-21

thanks for the instructable! I deviated a bit on the hardware, but it turned out great :D

avenant (author)2013-06-01

Good and practical idea.
What I would add to this, is a similar "bed" low down between the posts to utilise as an earthworm farm. That way any run-off water will drip directly into the compost below, and not be "lost" into the ground below. And the compost will be close-by and ready to use.
And so a "square-yard" farm can be double productive.

gbaker5 (author)2013-04-21

Something like this would be very useful for the caster idea. Put 2 rigid casters on one end of the planter and 2 swivel casters on the other end. Then you would be able to "steer" it around the yard also. I used these on large sawhorses I built to move my VW Beetle body shell around the yard when I was restoring it, and they roll very easily, almost no effort once you get them started.

http://www.harborfreight.com/10-inch-pneumatic-rigid-caster-38943.html
and
http://www.harborfreight.com/10-inch-pneumatic-swivel-caster-38944.html

defiantmonkey (author)2013-04-20

Hello! I made your raised bed planter, and wanted to share the excellent results! Ok, so actually my husband made the planter, and then my children and I picked out veggies, strawberries, and herbs to grow in it, and then planted them this afternoon. It was a wonderful project that the whole family got involved in. We can't wait to see how the plants grow over the next few months! Thank you for posting!!

Scatershot (author)2013-04-19

I am so glad you made this counter height. This is exactly what I need! Thanks for posting!

skoster (author)2013-04-14

Maybe add wheels on bottom so they are portable thru yard and can take them indoors in the winter for possible year round growing?? or use legs with casters like these: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/30250257/ ??

rhodylife (author)skoster2013-04-16

I really like this idea! That would be so helpful for me! I may look for some large casters that are weather resistant and have rubber wheels versus plastic wheels for when I build my second planter.

metqa (author)2013-04-14

Great Instructible!! My Mom was having my Dad make up some raised bed planters. I have seen other tuturials, but yours looks so clean and simple. I like it.! I might see about making one for my Shade garden to grow lettuce in the shade of my tiny backyard.
Great photos. I have a question about the hardware cloth installation. I see how the boards attach it in the middle but on the short edges, is there another strip of wood that holds it up, IOW, how do you keep it from sagging on the very edges of the short sides. I can't seem to see a photo that shows it. Thanks for your reply.

rhodylife (author)metqa2013-04-14

The hardware cloth is stapled to the underside of the side boards and the sides of the legs at the corners. The boards that go across the bottom are meant for support, so without them the hardware cloth is still stapled to the side boards.

metqa (author)rhodylife2013-04-14

Oh, I see. I misunderstood about the staples purpose. Thanks. What do you have growing in your awesome raised bed? Is it so much easier than squatting down all the time? Is the newspaper working well enough to keep the soil in and moisture high enough?

I imagine using corrugated cardboard as a bottom, cause that's what I used for my worm bin before. it holds up really strong but still breathable and holds water well.
Thanks again. Happy Spring!

rhodylife (author)metqa2013-04-16

I actually just did my plantings this weekend. I planted basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, chives, and garlic. And yes, the newspaper is holding up really well. I put in about 6 sheets in most places, and then they overlapped in others, so some spots are thicker than others.

chuggins143 (author)2013-04-15

Another option for attaching everything would be to just use a staple gun. Quick, easy, and will probably hold up about as long as using any other hardware.

sandresen (author)2013-04-14

What was the total cost?

rhodylife (author)sandresen2013-04-14

The total cost came out to $110, however, that leaves you with a lot of extra supplies, including: 1/2 sheet less than a full pack of sandpaper, 50/75 screws since I bought a box, two extra legs from one of the 4"x4" posts, a third long side board, and enough hardware cloth for at least one more planter, since my roll was 10' long.

adunster (author)2013-04-14

Deeper sides would be more practical for growing a greater variety of plants, especially if this is intended for food plants. they will be much happier with greater room for roots.

rhodylife (author)adunster2013-04-14

Yes, I agree that for different plants and vegetables, deeper sides would be more practical. The nice thing about this plan is that you can easily use a 12" board instead of a 6" one without having to change much else in the design plan. I may decide to do that when I build my additional ones.

jtechian (author)2013-04-14

Good job. You may want to consider landscape fabric to hold the dirt as it drains well and keeps the dirt from passing. If you are going to be watering it often, set a plastic bin under your table to catch run off and re-use it.

rhodylife (author)jtechian2013-04-14

Both of those are great suggestions. Thanks!

kewlkiwi (author)2013-04-14

Great idea for the planter, I'll make one for my sister.
A small typo though: your part list says:
2 - 1"x6"x8"
2 - 1"x4"x8"
The latter two should be ...... x8' i.e. 8 feet, not 8 inches.
I noticed this when (further down) it says: "Sides: Cut one of the 1"x6"x8" into two 48" pieces" and of course you cant cut an 8" long board into 2 pieces at 48" long.

rhodylife (author)kewlkiwi2013-04-14

Thank you for pointing this out! I have made changes to the post to reflect the size the boards should actually be.

thebeatonpath (author)2013-04-14

This is lovely! Perfect for square foot gardening. I made one similar to this last year, but yours looks much sturdier and nicer. I was just about to redo mine before planting the seedlings, so I saw this at the perfect time!

alan.h (author)2013-04-14

water crystals would be great for this garden planter, as this isn't that deep the water crystals will hold onto more water resulting in less watering

mrmiran (author)2013-04-14

We just cut the lumber for our self-designed but similar planter last night and we're using furring strips on the sides. We then laid the horizontal slats across the strips... and between the slats on the perimeter we placed 1" x 5/8" x 10" spacers. This way the wire has a flat area all the way around that we can staple the hardware cloth to without getting "wavy" on the edges. By ensuring the wire is secured and flat on top of the slats with the staples securing the wire facing DOWN gravity is always on our side.

KLester78 (author)2013-04-14

Thank you for posting this. Love this. I've tried to explain what I want for my garden, but no one seemed to think it could be done. You've shown it here. I have very bad back issues, and other health issues that make it imperative that I eat healthier. I can't afford to buy, and am unable to easily get the fresh products that I want/need. This is perfect for me. I can envision herbs, bush beans, peas, cucumber, zucchini, carrots, etc... growing in these. I've already found a way to grow potatoes in a barrel with a latched door at the bottom for harvesting them, and tomatoes are grown in a large pot with the cage fitting inside. I can see a slightly lower bed for the pole green beans.

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Bio: Favorite color=orange. Self-taught techie. Fabric hoarder. Pinterest addict. I enjoy: crafting, blog-stalking, planning/organizing, shopping for unnecessary things, being outside, and playing sports.
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