Introduction: Raised Planter Bed
You're about to build a 4 foot long, 11 inch wide, 9 inch deep, awesome looking raised planter bed. Check out the picture to see what it should look like with plants in it.
First, get all your materials. My links go to Home Depot because they're closer to me, but none of this is sponsored, so use whatever store you prefer:
---2" x 6" x 8' Cedar planks (4 x $18.47) - cedar is more expensive, but it resists rot and doesn't include pressure treated chemicals
---1-1/4" exterior screws (1 pound box x $8.97) - use exterior screws, since you want this to last and not to rust into your planter/plants/body
---2.5" exterior screws (1 pound box = $8.97)
---Galvanized L angle (6 x $0.98)
---Galvanized mending plate (2 plates in a 2-pack = $3.98)
---2" x 2" x 48" cedar square baluster (4 posts (mine came in a 6-pack, and for around $5) - but if you use this link then you'll need 3 posts and you'll cut them down to size to become 4 legs + 2 supports)
Total cost of materials: $106.68 + soil + plants.
It's not cheap, but there's nothing online that looks close to as good, close to as inexpensive, or close to as personal, since you're actually making it. And if you want to build two (I have) then the 2nd is only $70.27, since you only need three 8' cedar planks and use the same screws.
---Some sort of saw (electric is best, but hand saw works, though you might be tired after cutting through 2x6)
---Drill and driver
---1/8" bit (this is what I used, others may suggest other size bits)
---Pencil, always with eraser (life comes with mistakes)
Step 1: Cut Your Side and Bottom Pieces
Measure 1/2 the distance of your cedar planks. Cut 3 of your cedar planks in half so that they're all the same length (approximately 4 feet long). You should now have an 8-foot long plank and six 4-foot long planks.
Step 2: Set Up Your Planter Box But Don't Screw It Together
Put all the pieces together where they'll be (use the image for reference). There will be two 4-foot boards used as base boards, and the other four 4-foot boards will be side boards.
The L-angles will be in all 4 corners and also connecting the sides to the base. Technically I used two galvanized corner braces (the thing in my hand), but that's because I had them lying around, and if I were to do this again I'd just use two more L-angles.
Unless otherwise stated, use the 1.25" exterior screws. And for all screws, make sure to drill holes using the 1/8" drill. You don't want any of this wood to split now or develop cracks later, and some of these holes are close to the edges, so just do it right from the beginning.
The mending plates keep the base boards together. These should be put down perpendicular to the base boards (or I put mine down in opposing slants, so one diagonally left and the other diagonally right), and both really tight with no space left between the base boards, otherwise you could get a lot of soil leaking out of your planter. Again, drill holes before you screw them together.
You'll want all your boards to fit snugly together, so if one board is bent a little, try swapping it with another so that they fit better.
Step 3: Cut Your End Pieces
You're going to want to have your end pieces cut and laid out before you screw together the sides, so let's do that now.
Take your last 8' board and cut it down to four 11" pieces (use the images on the next step for reference if you want). Double check the measurements, that your two base boards side by side should be 11" wide (a 2" x 6" board is actually about 1.5" x 5.5", and 5.5" + 5.5" = 11" ... yay math).
Step 4: Put the Body Together
Using only the 1.25" screws and the L-angles, screw your side boards and end boards to the base boards and to each other (again, use the images for reference). But before you do...
It's not shown in the first image here, but temporarily place one of your end boards (the 11" one you just cut) perpendicular to the side boards when you screw the side boards to the base boards (using the 2 L-angles). Otherwise you could find that your side boards tilt in or out and throw off your planter. This end board will force the side boards to stay the right distance apart (11") and will leave the right amount of room for the legs later.
Also, before you use any screws, make sure to pre-drill the holes.
As you put the side boards and end boards together, you might find yourself in a tight space (11" + screw length , so about 12"), but I imagine most drills can fit in this space. I just had to remove a magnetic bit holder to make mine fit.
The L-angles in the corners will want to have one screw in each of the 4 boards in that corner. I'd suggest doing an entire end and side (4 boards), then the next side boards (2 more boards), all while keeping at least one end board between the side boards at all times to keep them properly spaced. Make that end board the final board.
By the way, see how my end boards are longer than the distance between my side boards? Yeah, for this planter I didn't put an end board between the sides to keep them where they're supposed to be, so I had to bend things and re-drill and re-screw a little bit as I put my planter legs on.
Step 5: Cut the Legs, Then Put Them on the Side
Measure out the legs of your planter before you do any baluster cutting. Your end goal is to have 4 legs that are about 23 inches long. This is a personal preference based on your own height and comfort, so decide what you like, and then measure out 4 of them, with pencil. Seriously, you can make this an 11" tall bed on the ground with no legs, or you can go up to 30" or so (but then secure it to something strong, as this is going to be top-heavy the taller it is). Then cut them so that you have your 4 legs of the exact same height, and put them to the side where they won't get used until later.
Step 6: Put on the Supports
Then, since you should have some extra 2" x 2" baluster remaining, let's use that to make the supports under the planter bed. You'll need 14" here (1.5" + 5.5" + 5.5" + 1.5") that goes from the underside of one of the side boards, supports the base boards, and reaches the other side board. Use the image for reference, and even after measuring, don't cut it yet.
Flip your planter bed over. Did the 14" support actually go from side board to side board, as seen in the image? Okay, now cut the supports. You should only need one screw into each side board and nothing into the base board, but extra screws probably won't hurt. For this thinner board, definitely pre-drill your holes.
Step 7: Add the Legs and You've Got a Raised Planter Bed
One option is to keep the planter flipped over and attach the legs going upwards (so when you flip it over the legs will go down). I let one end hang over my workbench and drilled the leg while holding it next to the planter, but I'd suggest the flip over method if I did it again.
For each of your legs that you put to the side earlier, you're about to use four 2.5" screws to go through the leg and into the side and end boards. My drill bit was too short to go 2.5" into the wood, so I had to hold the leg really still and drill out the four holes through the leg, then remove the leg so I could get to the end board or side board, and then continue the drill into the end board or side board about another inch. Then I'd put the leg back in the right place and drill the four screws in.
Since these are the only screws that are visible, you could use pocket holes from the inside, but I don't have a pocket-hole jig, so that's on you to make this one step better if you want a planter with no visible screws.
Step 8: Grow Things
This planter is 4' long by 11" wide by 9" deep, so we're talking about 2.75 cubic feet if you filled it to the brim (but don't do that). Put it where you want it to be, then add the soil (it's a 2-person job to move it after the soil is in). You'll probably want about 1.5 cubic feet of raised bed soil, and then possibly some sort of fertilizer or compost, all of which is easily accessible at a garden store, and you can pick what you want based on what you want to plant in here (flowers, veggies, herbs, tomatoes specifically...). If you start from seeds, maybe use 2 cubic feet of soil, but if you use starts, then their soil will add in with the soil you put in the planter. Also, I put mulch around each plant, but that's also a personal preference.
Note: I did not add any liner to either of my raised planter boxes. Neither is "leaking" soil because all the boards fit really snugly together, but the water that drains through is slightly brown, so if I did this again I'd use a liner (landscaping fabric). And with or without a liner water will definitely come through, which is a good thing since it means it's a lot harder to overwater my plants, so just know that water will get through to whatever is below it.
I hope you enjoyed this, and leave me a comment or suggestion if you try this out. I'd love to see this be used and modified by others. Go be awesome.
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