Introduction: Raised Garden Bed - on Legs!

Picture of Raised Garden Bed - on Legs!

 I built these raised garden beds for two reasons, the first was to avoid the back pain that my father feels when bent over a traditional raised bed for weeding, the second was to keep the dog out of the garden.  Both issues have been resolved!

I built three boxes, one for Strawberries, one for Herbs, and the last for Veggies like tomatoes and lettuce.

I did not take step by step pictures (sorry but built this before I found this great site) but the design is very simple.

As an added bonus, we have not had any rabbits or moles in the garden.  If you are in deer country, and you do not have a fence, these would become an "all you can eat buffet" so take precautions.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
 Pressure Treated Lumber - I used 2x12x10
  • This will depend on the size boxes you build
  • I built two boxes 4x4 and one 3x4
Pressure Treated Posts - I used 4x4x36 for each leg so a total of 12 legs

Lag Bolts to secure legs

Galvanized Screws to secure Box sides

1/4 inch Mesh Hardware Screen

Box of Lath Screws to secure screen to box frame

Landscape Fabric

Moisture Retaining Soil



Step 2: Construction

Picture of Construction
 I built these boxes onsite as they get heavy quickly once assembled.  They are a simple box with a leg secured at each corner with lag bolts.

I cut the pressure treated lumber to size for the sides.
  • 10 - 2x12x4
  • 2 - 2x12x3
Then I cut the pressure treated posts
  • 12 - 4x4x3
Assembly consisted of screwing the sides together with the Galvanized screws to form a simple box.

Next attach the legs at each corner with the lag bolts.

Now use the 1/4 inch screen to cover the bottom of the box by screwing the screen to the lower sides of the box.  You may need to attach a middle board across the center of the box at the bottom if your screen is not wide enough to cover from side to side (mine was not).  This is where you use the Lath Screws - I used #8 x 1 - 1/4.

On top of the of the screen, place the landscape fabric down.  This will retain the soil that you are about to place on top.

Last step (prior to planting) is to add the soil and compost to your new garden.

Step 3: Helpful Hints

Picture of Helpful Hints

 I have found that because the box is completely raised, water retention is a concern.  I have added a small sprinkler head to each box that I connect to a hose and run on low for 30 minutes to act as a "drip irrigation" system.  I run the water on very low so it bubbles out more than it "sprinkles".

I also add earth worms to the boxes every time it rains and I see them on the ground (every little bit helps).

I have also found that I can plant lettuce and cold weather veggies early on and then plant tomatoes and such in mid-May in the same box.  By the time the cold weather veggies are spent, the tomatoes have a good start.

As you can see from the pictures, I like to use the plastic domes to help give the pants a jump start.  They work very well.

I also like to add Marigolds as they are supposed to keep some insects away and I like the way they look and smell.  This is something my Grandfather always did so I do too.


PaleoDan (author)2011-04-06

I have rebuilt my boxes and wanted to share my experience over the past year. The boxes work well but they dry out way too fast. I feel the design uses more water than it should. I was building this for convience but did not want to waste water either.  I think the issue was that too much air circulates under the boxes and basically dries out the contents form top and bottom.  Other than this, I was very happy with the build.

The new build reused the wood where I could but I did need to purchase new boards.  I stayed with pressure treated but am lining it with plastic as suggested above.  I am also adding a "soaker" hose into the build to help reduce water use.  I will post more pictures when it is complete but here is what I have so far...adding horse manure this weekend.

erinbkendrick (author)PaleoDan2016-05-01

Where are the updated pics? How is everything doing 5 years later?

PaleoDan made it! (author)erinbkendrick2016-05-02

Not too much has changed over the five years but this year will be much different, I am going Hydroponic and will post some pictures once that is up and running some time this month.

These pictures are from a couple years ago I think.

erinbkendrick (author)PaleoDan2016-05-01

Where are the updated pics? How is everything doing 5 years later?

erinbkendrick (author)PaleoDan2016-05-01

Where are the updated pics? How is everything doing 5 years later?

erinbkendrick (author)PaleoDan2016-05-01

Where are the updated pics? How is everything doing 5 years later?

erinbkendrick (author)PaleoDan2016-05-01

Where are the updated pics? How is everything doing 5 years later?

Green-ish thumb (author)PaleoDan2016-03-11

Actually, the specific table I have is the 5 ft Ozark Trail folding table, from Walmart. It says it's made of high density polyethylene plastic that withstands high temperatures. Do you think the polyethylene might leach into plants if I use weed-x or some other type of landscaping fabric between the table and soil? Would there be any difference between that and using a plastic barrier? Or do you think it's comparable to using 5 gallon plastic buckets like so many use for their tomato plants? So, I guess my 2 basic questions are, do you think the table will withstand the weight and will it kill me if I eat anything I grow on it? Haha! Thanks!

Green-ish thumb (author)PaleoDan2016-03-11

Do you think it's possible to make a wooden frame (sides without bottom) to fit on top of a heavy-duty 6 ft table (top is plastic, similar to ones you find at Walmart) to grow vegetables? If so, would I have to drill holes for drainage or line it with anything? I already have the table and it doesn't get used much.
Also, my dad made a similar wooden table for his garden because they can't get on their knees anymore to plant or bend over to pick. They didn't have a problem deer, but had problems with squirrels and birds, so he made a lightweight chicken wire cage to fit over the top, with "doors" on 2 sides. It worked really well until we had torrential rains for 2 weeks in SC and the legs gave way on the table.

MaribethK1 (author)2016-10-20

My son is going to use this design to build stand up garden tables for a school with children with special needs as part of his Eagle Scout project. Looking forward to getting started.

PaleoDan (author)MaribethK12016-10-24

That is a great project - would love to see some pictures when he is done and if I can help answer any questions, just let me know.

MaribethK1 (author)PaleoDan2016-11-13

We just met with the Eagle Coach. He is suggesting using cedar, but also my son needs to submit plans. Do you have plans drawn for this project that he can download? I know you have written instructions, but looking for some plans. Please let me know.
Thanks very much!

AfiaP (author)MaribethK12017-06-16

Wow! What a surprise, I'm doing stage same thing for a Silver Award. How did it go?

MaribethK1 made it! (author)AfiaP2017-06-19

It was awesome. Please note - you can't use pressure treated wood as it contains toxins. Use playground grade cedar. I am attaching some pictures. Good luck with your Silver! My daughter built a puppet theater for her Silver and she might do this for her Gold.

AfiaP (author)MaribethK12017-06-20


MaribethK1 (author)AfiaP2017-08-05

You had asked if I thought Lowes or Home Depot would donate. They will likely give you a gift card to use towards the project, but we used a local lumber yard and they gave us a great price since it was an Eagle Scout project

PaleoDan (author)MaribethK12017-06-20

This really looks awesome! Great work! I am sure the new owner will have many years of enjoyment from this raised bed.

MaribethK1 made it! (author)PaleoDan2017-06-19

My son is just a Board of Review away from earning his Eagle Scout Award. I think he modified the project slightly, but the beneficiary was very happy! Thanks for the inspiration!

AfiaP (author)MaribethK12017-07-21

Did he raise all the money? My troop leader said we should ask Home Depot or Lowe's for donations. Do you think they will donate?

Gardener49 (author)2017-07-24

Would like more information about adding the soaker hose into the build, with pictures if possible. I'm looking at building a u-shaped raised garden.

PaleoDan (author)Gardener492017-07-25

I am not sure I have any pictures with the hose, I simply laid it back and forth around the plants stems and staked it so it would not move later. I then just ran it on a timer for a few hours each day and it seemed to work fine.

PaleoDan (author)2017-04-19

Went a completely different route this year - - Please let me know what you think...

Barbie1Bragg (author)2016-10-25

I absolutely Love this! Its a petfect way to garden if you have a back injury and an insanse dog. After reading about your water situation with the standing water, I spoke with my mother "The All Knowing Garden Expert of Texas" That was two hours of my life. She swears by Gravel, medium size for this project.
Thank you much for putting your poject on Instructables.

Vailhem (author)2010-04-29

 you gonna die when the chemicals from that treated wood get into your veggies

Barbie1Bragg (author)Vailhem2016-10-25

Buzz off

HelenaTroy (author)2014-08-23

thank you for this! I'm visually impaired and need raised beds, but I'd only seen the start-from-the-ground ones, which would be too low - and building them to the height that I need would mean having to fill the lower part which the plants wouldn't reach.

I can make the boxes deeper, or make the legs longer, or both! and add a "reservoir" at the base to help with watering. thanks again

aunt margie (author)HelenaTroy2016-10-17

Many people recommend filling the bottom of deep raised beds with.empty bottles (check plastic type for leaching). If you don't use legs you could also use rocks on the bottom. (Not concrete; it leaches "bad" chemicals.)

HelenaTroy (author)aunt margie2016-10-18

I have stacks of plastic milk bottles that I'm saving for craft projects and for raised-bed-fillers; read somewhere that if they're put in plastic sacks they can "bulk-fill" the space. hadn't known about concrete, thanks! I was gong to use the sack-of-bottles as a frame for a concrete "boulder" but that's be on the ground, not under it. or maybe even over it!.

erinbkendrick (author)2016-05-01

Where are the updated pics? How are they doing 5 years later?

MatthewG80 (author)2016-03-19

You can use plywood ( with drainage holes drilled in it ) or use 1" x 6" slats 1/4" to 1/2" apart to allow water drainage ( similar to how you would install a deck ). Using either of these will give added strength and help with the soil retaining enough moisture.

Also you can add "hoops" for netting to help keep out birds, bugs/insects, and for shading during hot weather. Also you can install either Polycabonate plastic panels or old glass windows to create an improvised "cold Frame" to either get an Early start with Early season plants or extend your season.

I have not made it yet, planing on doing so.So it will help my elderly parents out with gardening even though we have close to 3 3/4 acres of land and have had large gardens in the past.

minifarmbox (author)2016-01-04

These beds look great. Nice job. Just a couple of tips:

1) Because the soil in a raised bed like this will dry out faster than when planting in ambient dirt, it's best to use a good organic potting soil. The high Vermiculite/Perlite/Peat Moss content keeps the soil moist for a much longer time especially in hot weather.

2) Don 't use Linseed oil as a sealant. It has Cobalt and Manganese in it (as drying agents). These are toxic heavy metals and a no-no for organic food gardening. I have used natural Tung oil which you can find here.

Happy planting from MinifarmBox

PaleoDan (author)minifarmbox2016-01-05

Thank you for the compliments and suggestions.

I have made quite a few changes over the seasons since I built these. First, these dried out incredibly fast, I would not consider building these again without adding in piping for irrigation and I think it would still be wasteful (from a water perspective). These units are only good (IMO) for someone with a disability that limits them from bending over but still wants to garden or maybe cactus :).

After this I tried lowering the beds to the ground level and that improved things quite a bit but last year I toyed with Hydroponics on a small scale and will be setting up a larger system next year as I was very happy with the results... More to come when that project kicks off... Happy New Year!

Jhugs9446 (author)2013-03-09

I was so very Happy to find all of the imformation that i needed to build my raised beds.But what about the underlinning.What is best to keep it from drying out so fast. I feel if I use plastic it won't drain right.and what about the weight of it all on the screen.Is there any problems with it not wanting to hold? This was our concern..But Thanks for all of the other imformation.I do plan to use some old scap lumber.No it isn't treated.Is there anything that I can treat it with that isn't harmful to our health? I do hope this helps out my back.Still have two gardens but trying to do something a little different to.Thanks again my friends. Happy Gardening..

momof20paws (author)Jhugs94462016-01-01

linseed oil

maggiejigs2012 (author)2015-03-30

if the box is being used for vegetables I would not recommend pressure treated wood

tstreet (author)2014-03-22

I thought untreated wood was better so that chemicals don't leach out of the wood into the food?

salsamaker65 (author)tstreet2015-03-19

Pressure treated wood is a no go for us. We use cedar as it is more water resistant, rot resistant and healthier.

bhuvana.rama (author)2015-03-04

Somebody have any step by step picture instructions to build these? How will the bottom hold up all the weight?

Marsh made it! (author)2014-04-12

My friend wanted these. we made the a little smaller and a little taller, but the was the inspiration. Thanks!

bgoodrich1 (author)2013-07-01

I love this,and want to make.I like the idea of rabbits and other creatures not being able to eat my plants,although? probably not deer!
Thanks! for sharing!

jennmoye (author)2012-07-05

I built something like this using salvaged wood, some of it was painted and most of it was whitewood- It was all free so I don't care how long it lasts- but I did line the entire thing with burlap coffee bean bags. (Lining it with plastic seems just as harmful as the pressure treated lumber...) Also, I used the wood to build the bottom with 1/2" gaps between. I feel like it dries out too fast, so I can't imagine how fast yours would be with the screen under it.
Did you have any trouble with your beds not having enough nutrients? Mine need constant fertilizing, despite the fact that I bought the organic soil that supposedly had enough fertilizer for three months. Would the constant draining of the soil strip it of nutrients faster?

lnwn (author)2012-04-18

I would like to put these on wheels so I can move them around to catch the sun. We don't have a spot that gets full sun. Any suggestions for how to do this well?

PaleoDan (author)lnwn2012-04-19

If you go to your local big box hardware store, I would think you could find some solid wheels for a wheelbarrow or something similar. These should be strong enough and you could purchase metal rods there as well for your axels. I would try drilling holes through the legs then sliding your axels through and mounting your wheels. You will need to be careful to make sure your axel holes are lined up so that it does not bind. This will give you sid to side motion relatively easily but will not let you turn the boxes left or right. That would take mounting heavy duty casters to the bottom of the legs - those I think you could order from someone like Northern tools.

Please post a picture when you complete it.

Good luck

RedMeanie (author)2010-04-29

Nice, Im wondering do you think cedar would hold up just as good to the moisture? Something about treated lumber maybe leaching into the vegetables kind of worries me. We grow lots of cucumbers and tomatoes and eat them ALL the time so long constant exposure to some of those chemicals might be bad over time. If Im wrong please someone correct me because pressure treated lumber is really easy to acquire. 
Im looking at doing these raised beds also but rectangular so I can make miniature "GreenHouses" out of them with 8 foot long clear corrugated roof panels shaped like an A with a piano hinge at the top for year round growing. Ive always lost my cucumber plants over the winter because I have in ground gardens. Lost some very good producers and I don't want to lose anymore.
Also working on some hanger systems that I will be posting soon. I have taken all the available designs including topsy turvey and some great ones on "Instructables" and Kind of morphed my own. I have all of them growing tomatoes, strawberries, and cucumbers, in the same area of the yard to do a side by side comparison. I dont think anyone has done that yet, maybe it will save some people with less time on their hands, some headache and disappointment.
Thanks Again, and Nice Project!

Old  PT Bad  Chromated copper arsenate.

New PT, much much less bad, Ammoniacal Copper Quat. Basically Copper Oxide and a quaternary ammoniacal compound (as commonly used in food service cleaning.)

I guess if we were to staple a liner of thick plastic "drop cloth" for painting it would stop the chemicals from contacting the soil. Ive seen it at Home Depot in some pretty thick options. I guess we would need to know what type of plastic they are made of too because it could possibly start to break down and we would be back to square 1. Any ideas on that?
We might be better off just using cedar. I believe cedar has some natural "Pest Control" attributes and that could be beneficial also.   

rjcortez (author)RedMeanie2010-05-24

I use 6mi rolled black poly plastic to line the inside of my raised garden boxes.  It provides an impenetrable membrane against leaching chemicals and pests.

I've lined gardens with visqueen which is a polyethylene, yes if it's exposed to the sun it will break down, but buried it lasts practically indefinitely.  

The danger with the new PT lumber isn't to us, it's the plants, the leached copper can stunt growth.

PaleoDan (author)RedMeanie2010-04-30

 I think Cedar is a softer wood but should work fine.  I think it will be quite expensive to purchase in larger sizes required to give your box enough depth, but should be fine.  From what I have seen, it does have natural insect repellent features and will hold up well to the moisture.

If you are concerned about the chemicals, then Cedar seems to be a good option.  Redwood might also work well.

As for a hanger, I used copper pipe, 1 inch in diameter as a frame that I attached plastic tomato cages to.  I will add a picture of that to the last page.  It works well.

Last, as for adding a "green house" over top, that should work well.  Depending on where you live, you just need to remember that the cold will get under this box so it will never be as warm as a ground mounted one.  Still better than nothing.

Have fun

NatureGeek24 (author)2010-05-24

Nice.  I've referred a couple of friends to this who want to garden but can't dig up their "rental" yards.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am happily married with one son, two dogs, a ball python, Russian tortoise, and many fish. I like to fossil hunt, all things Jeep ... More »
Add instructable to: