Introduction: Garden Cart From Reclaimed Wood

About: A lowly geologist who likes to build stuff.

We've previously tried and failed to grow our own vegetables; the failures were mainly due to a lack of light, pests and a lack of attention. After taking down a decorative wooden structure in our yard I couldn't bring myself to discard the wood that would have cost hundreds of dollars almost 20 years ago. So we decided to reuse the wood to build a raised garden on wheels. The wheels allow us to move it to the optimal position for light and water and cart it out of the way for a garden party or winter skating rink. This was definitely a trial and error project, with the design evolving continually. This made it all the more rewarding; we are now watching the bounty grow everyday.

As with any reclamation project, expect a chunk of time to remove screws and nails. We ended up reusing most of the screws, so keep them in a tin when you can.

We used the following items for this project:

  • Reclaimed wood.
  • 4 wheels ordered from Amazon 2 fixed and 2 swivel. I am sure you can find a better deal in a scrap yard...
  • A few extra 1x8" rough boards of treated wood for the base of the box (none of the reclaimed wood was appropriate).
  • Left over pool cover to line the box.
  • Various screws and hardware.

Tools for this project included:

  • Chop saw, angle cut a bonus
  • Cordless drill
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure, pencil and other various tools

Step 1: The Frame

The availability of several long 4" by 4" pieces meant that I could go pretty big without worrying too much about stability. The limiting factor was the mobility, this rig is too heavy for my girls to drag on the lawn. When using reclaimed wood, you should always consider the length of available material. You may have several 2 foot long boards, so you should consider using this as one of your dimensions (width of the box) to maximize use and minimize cuts. The final dimensions were 30" by 72" and 42" high. I would have gone a bit shorter if I had a redo, but the height is actually has one advantage (see last step).

I decided to build everything on top of two 2" by 6" boards so that the wheels did not fight to tear the legs apart. I was concerned about sagging of the weight from the wet dirt so I bought four rough 2" by 6" treated boards which should stand the test of time.

We used the decorative boards to form the edge of the box and used miter joints (45 degree cuts) in the corners with alternating the lengths at 2/3 of the 72 inches. The result would be right at home in any hipster restaurant or barber shop. We quickly dropped the idea of staining it, as the look is pure "distressed barn look".

Step 2: Liner

I decided to line the box to lengthen the life of the wood. I used leftover pool cover (industrial bubble wrap). I put the bubble side in contact with the wood so that there is a chance of air circulation. I cut some a few slits in the the cover to allow excess water to drain out, and stapled it into place.

Step 3: Plant

I would not qualify ourselves as green thumbs, there have been many failures to learn from. Read the instructions on the seed or plant packages and makes sure you leave enough space; you may be tempted to pack it in, with such limited space. There are many great gardening instructables that will give you a head start (fertilizer, weeds, water...).

Step 4: Results

So far our garden is going crazy! Instead of putting in trellis to provide a structure for the plants to grow onto, we decided to let it overflow and onto the shelf underneath. I put in a few screws at strategic spots for the tendrils to grab onto and hold up the plentiful bounty that is on its way.

This project was extremely rewarding because of the reusing of materials into something we should use for years to come to feed ourselves.

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