how to build a garden box

gardening_with_familliesHello lovelies! So remember this post? The one where I’ve decided I’m good at gardening and just don’t know it yet? (Stay tuned, because I’m asking your gardening advice again at the bottom. Maybe I should give up and stick to what I know?)

back_gardenWe updated our yard a few weeks ago with some changes to make it a little more garden-friendly. And we decided to add these garden boxes.


Today we thought we’d talk a little bit about how we made them.

For these little boxes, you may notice we used cedar. This rot resistant wood gives the garden a pretty look, and we felt that it was a nice natural finish for our plants in our garden where we plan to use them.

Our two longer garden boxes measure 6 feet long by 3 feet wide and 15 inches high; our square one:  4 feet by 4 feet and 15 inches high. We felt that these are a great fit for our yard, and the size of beginner’s garden we wanted to use. Of course, Adjust your measurements to the size you wish to build.

Supply list

(8) 10 foot pieces of 8 inch western red cedar

(1) 8 foot pieces of 8 inch western red cedar

(2) 6 foot pieces of 8 inch western red cedar

Box of 1 1/4 inch exterior screws

Tools of preference: 

I think it’s no secret that we are unabashedly biased towards RYOBI. ;} We think that they’re the bees knees, and once you use their products, you’ll love them as much as we do. So if you’re looking for some great tools that are dependable, professional quality… you’ll love these:

RYOBI 10 inch compound sliding miter saw

RYOBI Lithium Drill

{If you have time, be sure to check out the awesome gallery of projects on their RYOBI nation site. It’s so cool to see what people are doing! They have us in awe.}


Cut list 

Using your saw + drill:

• Cut the 10 foot boards into a 6 foot and 4 foot piece.

• Cut (4) of the 6 foot boards into (8) 3 foot sections

• Cut (1) of the 8 foot boards into 3 inch wide and 15 inch long strips. Do this by first cutting the board to 15 inch sections, then turn the board and cut it into 3 inch sections. This will be right at the edge of your saw’s cutting ability, but the RYOBI can handle it.

• Next, take (2) 6 footers and (2) 15 inch pieces. Lay the six footers flat on the ground and butt them together.  Place a 15 inch piece on each end and screw it into the 6 footers with your 1 1/4 exterior screws (I suggest pre-drilling your holes). Repeat this with all the 6 footers.


Now take (2) of the 6 foot sections and (2) of the 3 foot boards. Butt (1) of the 3 footers up to the (2) 6 foot sections and take one of your 15 inch pieces and place on one corner, making sure to overlap the other 15 inch piece used to secure the 6 footers. Mark where the screws will go to hold everything together. We think it’s a great idea to use screws 4 per board and zig zag them. Then pre-drill the holes and screw it together, repeat this process for the other end of that same board and then place another 3 foot board on top and repeat the process.


Follow the same step on the opposite end of the garden box.


(Our hideaway makes a great work surface) ;}

Repeat the process for the second 6 foot by 3 foot box.

Take the remaining 4 foot pieces and repeat the same steps as above to create the 4 foot by four foot garden box you see in our pictures. (You can actually build any size you want by just changing out the measurements.)


It’s as easy peasy as that!

gardenHere they are all lined up in a row so we could see how they would fit before we moved them against the fence line. We’re sure there’s lots of ways to do it, but we figured the simpler the better this time around. Having them raised helps our backs and helps with weeds when we transfer our garden!

garden_boxes_how_to_2Don’t worry… we’re working on treating that grass to get it back up to par, too. ;} Bertha the giant pecan tree presents an ever existent challenge.

DIY_garden_boxesWhere’s the garden you may ask? Besides this little jasmine that needs to be relocated, we have been busy transplanting and hardening them off for the crazy Alabama heat to come.

little_sproutsI walked into the laundry room about four days after they were planted, and I was all, Uh, hello Jack and the Beanstalk. So I got a few little containers and they’ve all been moved to their happy little houses.

little_gardenI don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time on plants in my life. See those buds? Every single one transplanted by me. That took forever. And this is just the beginning.

Gardening. It’s not for sissies.

hardening_gardenSo here we are.

I have a nice little farmer’s tan going on.

That, and gnats.

Calling all experts: I read that I can use tape… and earthworms. I’ve done neither yet but I’m on high alert spazzing as we speak. I also heard we don’ t want to use chemicals, because you know, we’re eating them. The produce, not the gnats. But I also heard that the stinkin larvae is in the soil and now it’s eating my beautiful little roots. Oh and they’re in and out of our house so I’m finding stupid gnats everywhere. I’m twitching now because I feel like they’re crawling on me. HELP. Surely there’s something organic we can use?

Jamin joked that we should trash them and start over. I joked that I would impale him with my spade.

Was that violent? Sorry. I’m angsting over the gnats. And I’ve been watching too much court tv.

Not for sissies.

Should I admit defeat? Is this just our first little invader? Let’s hear it for the spuds! Let’s give the spuds a haaaannnddd…. And I’m making a song about my (potentially failed) garden. Am I even using the right terminology?

I’m blaming it on the fact that this is our third round with strep. I’m the whiney gardener. Not the constant one.

Are you guys gardening? How’s it going?

Have an inspired day, lovelies!

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Responses to how to build a garden box

  1. We discovered that we have a lot of clay in our new yard space. The only way for us to garden successfully is by doing raised gardens. I’m definitely going to save this post for future reference. Thanks!


  2. Jessie says:

    Neem oil is a nice alternative to chemicals and takes care of lots of problems. For fruit flies, you can also just trap and drown them – put equal parts cider vinegar and water, a splash of juice, and a few drops of liquid dish soap in a (pretty) soda bottle. They like the smell of the fermented juice/vinegar/water, go in to drink it, and drown. The soap breaks the surface tension because they’re so light normally they can sit on top of liquid.

    • HA! Thank you for explaining the soap. I had no idea why. I think we will try this??? Is all but lost for me and my farming days? I have got to do something today, for sure. :(

      • Melissa says:

        I don’t recommend using antibacterial/grease fighting soap. You want something like a plain Dawn or Ivory dish soap.

        • Christina says:

          Dawn has always worked the best for me. In a little spray bottle with some water and scares all the bugs away.

  3. Melissa says:

    You could also buy some diatomaceous earth (DE) to sprinkle on the soil and plants. DE is organic, but you’ll want to wash your hands after you apply it. You can also use it for aphids once your plants are outside. Also, when I mentioned the soap in my other reply, I was thinking you could mix up your own insecticidal soap to spray on the soil and plants. Use about 1 1/2 tsp. of Dawn per 1 quart water and put it in an spray bottle. You can also use this on aphids once you get your tomato plants going. In this case, you’ll want to use a gentle dish soap not anything antibacterial or grease fighting.

  4. Layla K says:

    Love this!

  5. Sharon P. says:

    I read that you can fill mason jars with vinegar, screw lids on tightly and poke tiny holes into lids. Put them anywhere gnats are a problem. Gnats love the scent of vinegar and will head for those jars and get trapped. Try it and see if it works.
    Good luck!

  6. Lynn Bass says:

    Dear Ashley,
    I will recommend a few books that even if you do not read through (as they are extensive and maybe more involved than you need at this time), you could search for some answers to particular questions: Eat More Dirt by Ellen Sandbeck, The Backyard Homestead, Edited by Carleen Madigan, and the organic gardener, by christine and michael lavelle. Thank you for sharing all your wonderful ideas. God bless you andyour family!!

  7. Megs says:

    Vinegar is a big help!

    For fruit flies and garden gnats I get a small cup, pour in apple cider vinegar then two drops of dishwashing liquid, mix and sit the cup out near the culprits. Works every time! I just got rid of a gnat problem with my basil seedlings which are too delicate to spray with anything.

    I’m about to do the same thing inside for the fruit flies that decided to visit us thanks to my darling bringing home bananas!

  8. Autumn says:

    Get therapeutic grade peppermint oil and mix with water in spray bottle. Spray your garden with this it is completely natural and bugs hate the smell.

  9. Divia says:

    Hi. I don’t even know when you posted this or if I’m too late. I used garlic, a whole clove and a handful of chilies which i soaked in hot water, then diluted. I cooled it before and then sprayed onto my herbs and veg.
    That solved my problem.
    There’s also a lot of home made insecticides if you search Google.

    Good luck

  10. kc and ep says:

    Thank you so much! We followed the directions and now have 3 awesome cedar boxes that we made. We didnt have a saw but Lowe’s did all the cutting for free! Now comes the fun part—we get to plant!! :) Thank goodness for the internet and people like you who post great information with pictures and easy to follow steps for the everyday person:)

  11. Mary Elizabeth says:

    These boxes are perfect for the space we are thinking about using. I’m curious about how much soil you ended up using and how you layered it? Is their another post on that somewhere?

  12. Deborah says:

    Have you heard of the M-brace from Very cool product that makes raised beds easy.

  13. Mike Zappitello says:

    The only thing that might help for ease of access is to build tiers. Your step by step instructions are perfect to get me started. My brother built one but tiered it so he could go up using less space and still was able to expand his garden. He used the same technique as best as I can tell. I look forward to trying my hand at building a raised garden.