Posted by Ash
This post may contain affiliate links to products we personally use and love.
Tired of spending so much money for organic produce, Eileen and I decided to finally start our own garden last spring.
Most of our backyard was covered in shade, so a planter box would be ideal for positioning the garden in the most heavily sunlit area. We also wanted to use healthy organic soil, so that was another reason for using the planter box. Finally, we thought it would help deter some of the wildlife from harvesting our crops.
We had been plagued with groundhogs constantly eating up our sunflowers. We also have loads of deer as well as foxes running through the neighborhood.
So a tall planter box was ideal for our first garden.
Having never made a planter box before, I searched the internet for design ideas. I found a simple but sturdy design on Instructables. This particular design called for building both the planter box and the stand.
The box itself was 6 ft. x 2 ft, stood about waist height and made of cedar wood. The stand was made of regular 2 x 4s, but stained to protect from the elements. This would be perfect for us.
Except for the cedar wood, I had all the other materials required for the project. Cedar wood was recommended because it is naturally very resistant to rot.
I purchased several planks of it from Home Depot and quickly got to work in the garage building the box.
Following the plans I found online, I constructed the cedar box. The planks went together with lots of pocket holes (using my Kreg Pocket hole Jig).
I recently discovered the world of pocket hole joinery, so this part of the project was a lot of fun, and gave me a lot of valuable experience.
Here’s the box starting to come together.
You can see all the pocket holes used to join the side planks to the base of the box.
The base itself was also joined with pocket holes, but they are underneath so you can’t see them in the picture.
Wood clamps were a necessity for the project to keep the planks aligned while I fastened them.
Also, the cedar planks from Home Depot were very cheap and warped. So the clamps helped keep them straight enough until the box shape was formed.
Here’s a picture showing one of the end corners of the box:
Again you can see all the pocket holes being used.
I am also using my clamp here as a spreader to force the long end pieces apart. The cheap cedar wood was warping so much, I could not get the side plank in by hand, so needed the spreader for assistance.
Here’s a picture showing the nearly finished cedar box:
The pocket holes made the box very sturdy. Also, despite all the warped cedar planks I used, the box came out very straight.
The warping was only annoying during construction, but my clamps and spreaders overcame that hurdle.
The cedar planks sold at Home Depot were not wide enough to create the ideal box depth though, so the height of the box had to be extended a little.
It was a bit too shallow for adequate growth of roots. So using more pocket holes, I made another layer and attached it to the top of the box.
Here’s a picture showing the second layer being fastened (I’m using a face clamp to keep the surfaces flush as I inserted each pocket hole screw):
Next up was the stand for the box. Construction went along very easily as I followed the instructions.
The stand consisted of a cross shaped base to rest the planter box on, and 6 legs made of 2 x 4s (doubled up to provide the strength needed to hold the planter box when full of dirt).
Here’s a picture showing the stand being built:
After the stand was finished, I placed some square cedar cuts on the bottom of the legs to serve as feet.
They would help to keep the 2 x 4s off the wet ground, and to help prevent it from sinking.
Finally, I applied some stain to the whole project to help it’s longevity outdoors. The stand required a stain because I used regular 2 x 4s.
I opted not to use pressure treated wood because I didn’t want those chemicals so close to the plants. I used regular deck stain for the stand.
Technically, the cedar didn’t need a stain (because of its increased rot resisting abilities) but I chose to stain it anyway to get the most life out of the wood.
It was important to use a non-toxic natural stain though.
Since we were going to use the planter box to grow organic produce, it was important to not use any chemicals in the planter box that could be absorbed by the plants. I had done my research ahead of time, and ordered one online.
Here’s a picture of the completed planter box:
Notice the height extension for the box was reinforced by an outer rim. This rim also provided some visual flair.
Next I located an ideal spot for the planter box outside.
It was out of the way from daily backyard use, yet received the most sunlight for the amount of tree cover we have.
Unfortunately, the ground there wasn’t perfectly flat. So I dug holes in the ground for the planter box legs to rest.
The holes were dug at various depths so that the planter box would be level once inserted. It was a trial and error process but didn’t take too long.
Here’s a picture showing the box stand, with the legs partially below ground to make the structure level:
Here’s a close up of the box resting in the stand:
Now came the fun part - filling with dirt and planting the produce. Since this was our first attempt at a garden, we thought we would have better luck with some starter plants from Home Depot.
Here’s a picture after we planted everything:
Fast forward a few months later, and our garden was thriving (notice our addition of a homemade rain barrel on the right):
We are very happy with the outcome of the planter box. It has stood up strong through all sorts of severe weather, and still looks the same as the day I put it outside.
In total, I spent around $50 for the cedar planks and natural stain.
The rest of the materials (mostly 2 x 4s, deck stain and pocket hole screws) were lying around my garage from previous projects.
Want to see more? Check out our similar projects.
Hi! We're Ash and Eileen, and we are sharing our home project stories with you. From crafty projects to home maintenance to more ambitious DIY endeavors, we hope our stories inspire you to check a few things off your project list! :)