Large & Cheap Modular Raised Planter Beds

Introduction: Large & Cheap Modular Raised Planter Beds

I've always wanted to expand my family's garden as it always felt like there wasn't enough space so we had to compromise on what we could grow. The soil quality is not that great in our area so I decided on trying to create raised planter beds.

This project is being entered into the "Finish It Already Challenge" which requires the backstory of the project

The space around the side of the deck has always had issues with grass so I thought about placing the planter there. However the project remained a plan for the past year on my ever growing "want to do" list. Fast forward to this year, with too much time on my hands with everything being canceled due to the pandemic and not much else to do, I decided to make my plan a reality by making the measurements needed and drawing up what it would look like to finally construct the planters.

Step 1: Materials and Design

The nice thing about this design being modular is that it's simple to scale it up. The basic unit of the planter is the 2 x 8 x 1.5 box comprised of 4 8ft boards and 4 2ft boards. Multiple of these are attached together with screws to create the final product.

The front length of my deck happened to be 12 ft and the side happened to be 8 ft, perfect for construction with 8 ft length boards. If I were to do this project again, I would probably further divide the 8 ft sections in to 4 ft long sections to further improve the strength but the 8ft lengths seem to work fine.

Here are the materials I ordered:

2 boxes of 2 inch Galvanized screws

16 x 3/4 inch x 8 ft x 8 in cedar boards

4 x 2 in x 2 in x 8 ft cedar board

2 cubic yards of planter soil

Note: Not all wood types are suitable for planters. I decided on cedar on the advice of this web page.

Step 2: Assembling the Long Sides

The walls of the planter are secured against 2x2 cedar boards and the 2x2 cedar boards are cut to about 75% of the height of the planter. I secured the 2x2 boards are every 4 ft along the 8 ft long board but if I were to do this again, I would do this more frequently or divide the boards all into 4ft lengths. I screwed the long boards into the 2x2 boards at 2 points for each board.

This process of creating a long board is repeated for however many times is needed. In my case, I created 4 of the 8ft long type and 2 of the 4 ft long type.

Step 3: Attaching the Short Ends

I cut 2 of the 8 ft boards into 2 ft long pieces. These 2 ft long pieces are placed on the outside of the long boards created in the last step and are fasted with screws to the 2x2 boards at 2 points for each board.

Step 4: Installation

It's really as simple as laying the planters down on level ground and filling with a garden soil mix. There are plenty of online calculators which can help you determine the volume of your specific planter which would help you to know how much soil to order. In my case, the volume was around 1.9 cubic yards so 2 cubic yards were ordered.

Since I did not want to put a plastic weed liner at the bottom, all the grass was removed from the place where the planters would go. This is also the step where you may find that your measurements weren't quite right and you need to make some adjustments to the length of the wood.

Step 5: Final Thoughts.

It was a lot of fun to make the planters as this was my first experience with a large woodworking project. I hope you found this instructable useful and consider making it yourself! I would really appreciate it if you voted for my project in the finish that project contest!

Feedback is always welcome and if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Improvements I would make if I were to do this again:

  • Measure the length of the deck more precisely
  • Divide the 8ft sections into 4ft sections.
  • More accurately level the soil below.
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