Introduction: Raised Garden + Turtle Pen

Do you have turtles in the house that you really want to enjoy the outside, but your backyard is too small and don't want your kids to pick them up all the time?

Have you always wanted a garden and you thought "this will be the year" but, again, the yard is too small and someone already put in a bunch of pavers and artificial turf.

Well look no further! This Instructable will solve all of your woes, anguishes, sufferings, torments and agonies! I will show you the perfect little unused nook in my backyard and walk you through a fun design using Tnkercad that combines a small raised garden bed with a tool shelf and a turtle pen, then I'll show you the finished product! Unless otherwise specified, all units are in inches.


  • Miter Saw
  • Electric Drill
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil
  • Staple gun


  • Wood
  • Wood
  • Wood
  • Screws
  • Galvanized Steel Hardware Cloth
  • Porous Weed Block
  • Staples

Step 1: Step 1: Determining Size

Note: dimensioned lumber is not actually the displayed size (e.g. a 2x4 is not actually 2in x 4in, but this design does not require precision dimensions. The length (which is the dimension we will be cutting to) is what is most important so in the design I will make life easier and round up for the other dimensions.

A friend gave me some 2in x 8in x 8ft boards so I decided to make my garden 8in deep. I wanted my garden to be just the right height for me to comfortably reach the other side and work in it. I choose 42in tall. So I started with the box and the legs to raise it to the right height. I'll use 2x4's for the legs.

My backyard is too small to have a garden anywhere while still giving the kids an adequate amount of space to play, luckily there is a small nook where the AC unit is. This nook has just enough room for a 2ft x 4ft garden while still allowing enough room to access the AC unit and tend to the plants.

Step 2: Step 2: Stability/Tool Shelf

We need stability and that's just what the tool shelf will provide. Half of this shelf will be where the turtle pen goes. The sides of the self, tied to the legs, will be 2x4's and the shelf itself will be 1x4's.

Step 3: Step 3: Garden Bottom

The bottom of the garden bed needs a way to hold the soil while allowing the excess water to escape. I'll use 1x2's for the main support and later (not shown here) I will put in galvanized steel hardware cloth (metal mesh) and some plastic sheets on top of that.

I don't want the excess water from the garden to drip all over my tools, but it would be great if it fell into the turtle pen to give them some moisture in Tucson's hot weather! So I put a gradient in these 1x2's, the high end toward the tools and the low end toward the turtles. For the tool half I'll use a plastic sheet (trash bag) so that water cannot leak, and on the turtle half I'll use a porous weed block so that water can drip through.

Step 4: Step 4: Turtle Pen

For the turtle pen I used a 1x8 for the back, left, and right walls and the front wall used a 1x4.

For the lid I used 1x2's for the boarder and the same metal mesh to let the sun through and allow my kids and guests to view the turtle.

I put hinges and a lock so I can feed the turtle but keep the kids out.

For the bottom I used the metal mesh again with some metal straps as supports and the same porous weed block so that it holds the sand but does not flood when it rains.

Step 5: Step 5: Garden in Action

I later found out that we have a squirrel after our nearly ripe tomatoes went missing and the onions were slightly dug up. An improvement on this design would be to put up a net to keep critters out once the plants begin to bear fruit.

I hope you enjoy the design, please let me know of any questions!

Planter Challenge

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Planter Challenge