Sunday, May 5, 2013

How to make a garden planter box

It's that time of year again! Garden prep is under way. If you have been wanting to purchase garden boxes but they are too expensive, check out this DIY money saving project!


The soil where I live is sand and rock so Garden Boxes are a necessity.  When I started I was just hoping to get enough produce to grow to justify the money I was investing.  I did some research and found that the cute vinyl garden boxes are EXPENSIVE!!! Lots of companies and home improvement stores have "kits" that you can use to build your own boxes, but they can be pricey too. Ultimately it's just a wooden box right? That's what I figured, so I started on my garden box adventure.....

Supplies:
Wood planks to make a 12" deep box. So either 2 layers of 6" or 1 12" wide piece. (I used 12X2 pieces that were 12 feet long)
Galvanized screws so they do not rust
Weed paper
Level (a right angle would also be helpful, but it's not necessary)
Drill
Latex paint or some kind of sealant for the wood.
Staple gun
Scissors or utility knife
Top soil

First cut your wood into the dimensions you want. One 12X2 12 foot long piece of wood will make a 3'X4' box or a 2'X6' box. The helpful people at Home Depot or Lowes will cut the wood for you for FREE to take home so you don't have a 12' piece of wood sticking out of your car. :)
Paint your wood to seal it from water and rot. I used a white Latex outdoor paint because I wanted it to match my white vinyl fence. It's important to use Latex as opposed to Oil Based because you will be eating the items out of your garden and you don't want them tainted with oil from the paint or stain.

After the paint was dry I then put the boxes together in my garage and carried them to the backyard. I didn't get many pics of this part (sorry) but all you do is align your boards at right angels and screw them together. If you are super picky this is where your right angle would come in. For me a box is a box and as long as all the sides are at right angels it was good enough for me. I used 3 screws across each edge and I pre-drilled the holes so the wood would not split. (The 3rd screw is buried in the photo) Here is a close up of a joint:
Another option is to use a right angle joint. I used this to extend my strawberry planter that was already in the ground Here is what they look like, just screw them in and you're done.
The next step was my Birthday present from my husband. :) The area I wanted the boxes was not level. There was a generous slope to our yard in that spot, which is why I chose that spot. Lots of sun and we didn't use it at all. But of course I wanted the boxes level.......so my hubby cut out the sod (I'm talking with an axe and shovel), dug the area level and helped me adjust the placement of the planter boxes with a level. We would eye it level, insert the box and realize it wasn't level. Then we would take the box out and make the adjustments and try it again.... and again....and again... One of the planters has a corner that sticks above the ground about 2 inches due to the slope. That means we buried that one corner 10" into the ground to make it level. This was a VERY tedious process and I think it was quite possibly the BEST Birthday present I've received. :) If you choose a flat area this process will be dramatically easier for you then it was for us.

*Note: It is not necessary to take out the grass if you use weed paper. BUT from what I've read and from what friends tell me...."grass finds a way" into your planter and it over runs it. Why waste all the time and effort building a box and keeping weeds at bay if you are going to plant it on top of grass that will eventually work its way up? My opinion is you should remove the grass from under the box.

So after the box is level and set, the inside looks something link this. Framed in crappy dirt. ;) (minus the annoying Butterfly bush in the way) I used part of an existing planter for one side, and a retaining wall as the other side of my box for this planter. (I actually cut the sod, dug and leveled this one all on my own.) :)
To keep weeds out of your planter, you need to apply weed paper:
I used a staple gun to attach it to the inside of my box. I put down 2 layers.
Then fill with top soil.
I originally left the space between the strawberry plants and the retaining wall empty (see pic. below). I soon realized how out of control Strawberries get and decided to direct all the shoot offs into a new "extended" planter. I'm expecting a plethora of Strawberries this summer!
And here are my raspberry bushes. I built a trellis for these last fall and put it up. As you can see by the green grass these photos are from this past summer.
And here are 3 of the 4 planters I built and my two little apple trees on the left and right. The middle bush is a rogue Butterfly bush that I don't have the heart to cut down. If it starts making my strawberries not grow, that sucker is GONE! LOL
You can see the slope on the front right box and the box on the left on the right side.
I planted a "Salsa Garden" with tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers. I also planted basil (we loved having that on hand for cooking) carrots, pumpkins and cucumbers (which didn't work) and my strawberries and raspberries in separate planters.

It was a lot of fun gardening this past year. I learned a lot and I'm excited to plant again this year. I've already got garlic that has sprouted and now that my strawberries and raspberries have established roots they should produce a ton of fruit this year. Bring on Spring!



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47 comments:

  1. Hmm. I am scared of gardening, but I may be able to try this! Thanks for making it look easy.

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  2. I was scared too! I stick with bamboo plants in the house, they are hard to kill. :) I was surprised how easy the garden was. I just let the sprinkler system water everything so it was super easy. You should try it!

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  3. I'm bookmarking this post! This is GREAT! (You sound like a pro gardener, I'm a newbie) Thanks for linking up at Whistling Wednesday Blog Hop! :)

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  4. I'd love to have some of these! I have my entire kitchen window full of herbs and stuff. But I have zero grass in my back yard. It's all stamped concrete. Do these have bottoms in them? Could I make this work on concrete?

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  5. Chase, too funny. I am not at all a pro gardener. lol I just started this past year. I'm a pro at DIY projects and saving money, that's why I made my own box. ;)

    Sommer, The only bottom my boxes have is the weed paper. That keeps the weed out and allows the water to drain so my top soil is not all muddy. My neighbor used landscaping cement blocks to build a frame and then put dirt in there directly on the cement and it's worked out fine for them. I think a wood frame would work fine on cement. I would not recommend using wood for the bottom because the bottom would rot out.

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  6. This is a great idea. We have these too except we spent too much buying them at Walmart! They work great though. Next time we will make them! Thanks for the great tutorial!

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  7. This has been on my list for this spring, I've actually been pulling pics of these from magazines for a couple years now and it's finally time to buckle down and do it!! I never know the timing, though... hopefully now's a good time to start getting this ready!

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  8. that looks great, and i am so jealous of your mad gardening skills! as much as i want to do this, i am what i call "a remedial planter."

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  9. I love this how to...we had a battle royal last year planning our "Box Garden" I thought we needed a weed barrier...anyway I am sharing this on my blog on my projects page with a link back to you i don't want to loose track of this great post - Thanks !
    http://flowergirlcottage.blogspot.com/p/free-pattern-favorites.html

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  10. I've been thinking about making some of these. You did a great job! I'd love it if you would link this up to our Wicked Awesome Wednesday link party.

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  11. OH i love this! i'd love for you to come link it up at my party today- www.smallfineprint.com
    and any other creations you have of course!

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  12. I would so love to try this but our yard isn't fenced in and I'm also scared. I don't even know if I have enough sun in my backyard.
    www.chandrassouthernlife.blogspot.com

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  13. Chandra, We have 2 cats that we let play in our yard during the day and they don't bother the garden at all. I'm not a "dog person" so I don't know what they would do to a garden. Maybe you can just plant a little extra for any passerby's to munch on. :)

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  14. Thanks for sharing, we want to do make these this year!

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  15. Love this, my husband is willing to make one for me and my daughter, she's been into potting lately. I need to figure out what's best for us to grow in the sunny so florida.

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  16. Nicely done! I'll be getting my garden ready today! Thanks for linking to Home and Family Friday.

    Becca

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  17. We made a shallow raised bed in a similar way but used the sides of an old broken bed frame to make it. A bed made from a bed!

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  18. @UKZoe....talk about Thrifty! Nice job! :)
    Michelle @ Thrifty 101

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  19. Hi
    Just wanted to let you know that I “ Featured” you on Santa’s Gift Shoppe Blog Hop today for your great project & inspiration! Be sure to grab the “I was featured” on Santa’s Gift Shoppe Button/Code for your sidebar! You deserve it! Thanks so much..If you’re not a follower already we’d love for you to join us...Have a WONDERFUL Week!!
    Barb

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  20. Love these! We have been thinking about making boxes this year and trying a garden. Thanks for the inspiration and tips!

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  21. Just wanted to let you know that I featured this post today on FTF! Thanks for sharing it and grab a featured button if you would like!

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  22. Congrats on gardening! I tried it once. It didn't end well... Thanks for linking up to Mad Skills Monday!

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  23. Salsa Gardens are a good thing! Thank you for linking up to my K.I.S.S. blog bash last week. This weeks blog bash is in full swing again!! If you haven't already please be sure & link up more of your creativity, I look forward to seeing all your great ideas. :)

    Drop by The Tattered Tag
    !

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  24. I've put together a round up of great garden projects on Craft Gossip today and included your post. :) You can see it here
    http://homeandgarden.craftgossip.com/6-fresh-garden-ideas-for-spring/

    If you would like to share the Craft Gossip love and show your visitors you've been featured, you can grab a button here!
    http://homeandgarden.craftgossip.com/grab-a-craft-gossip-button/

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  25. what a wonderful tutorial!! I can't wait until i get a house and can have a cute little garden like this :) Thanks for linking up to Your Whims Wednesday!

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  26. We use grow boxes also. Ours were free, premade, and preinsulated which extends the growing season. How? You go to a used appliance and get fridges that have had the chemicals and compressors removed leaving just the boxes. They are high enough even those in wheel chairs can garden in them. They have room for deep roots, and you can paint them any way you like with spray paint and stencils. Best of all, they are not in the landfill:)

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    Replies
    1. WOW!! Now THAT is one cool idea!!! Would love to see some pics!

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  27. Sweet Somethings, that is a GREAT idea! I would love to see photos of that! Thanks for sharing.
    ~Michelle.

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  28. Great! I am excited to make my own planter for garden salad and one box for lavender as well.

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  29. wow you did a good job i wanna try and make one to grow my own fruits + veggies!!!

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  30. Thanks for this post - I had planned to do this for my garden this year but didn't have the funds yet BUT I utilized space where we had pulled out bushes this spring and won't be planting until the fall so I still have a small one! I plan on saving this post to use to plan this winter and hopefully have everything ready to plant next spring!

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  31. love it! bought my own on craigslist, spent about $160 for three (a great deal) - but nothing beats making it yourself.

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  32. I used some of your ideas for making my own planter box for my wife, and made sure I gave credit where credit was due in my own write up, thank you very much!

    http://justmejustin.tumblr.com/post/7711631017/diy-planter-box

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  33. Your boxes look great Justin! I like the finished top, very nice. I tried to comment on your post, but I couldn't find the button.

    ~Michelle

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  34. I really like these...we have a big garden but this would add some interest...got to get the tools out!

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  35. This definitely gets me in the mood for spring. Thanks for the great idea!

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  36. I've been trying to get my feet wet (or my thumbs green) for a while, and I've been set on planter boxes. I was pretty sure DIY was the way to go, with all the ridiculously expensive planters out there. All I want is four sides, a bottom, and dirt in it, and now I know how to do that. THANKS!

    (except I'm gonna use a hammer and nails)

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  37. Hi Michelle,
    I love your idea. Did you mix anything else with your top soil? Or, was it all top soil. How many bags would I need for a garden box size of 3x4..12in. high?
    Thank you for your time?
    Nancy

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  38. Planter boxes are a great way to add garden elements where you might not have the best of soil conditions. wooden boxes are attractive, but you're limited to square or rectangular boxes, and they take some time to put together. You can build a concrete planter box, like the ones shown on Yard Crashers, and make different sizes. The blocks come in a lot of different colors, too and they are easy to move around. There are instructions and a video here: http://info.basalite.com/build-your-own-stone-planter-box. Happy Gardening!

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  39. You've posted some good instructions for an inexpensive "in the ground" box. Thanks.

    Anyone looking for plans to build a box that stands on legs can find them at www.PlanterPlan.com.



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  40. Choose plants with similar soil and water requirements for easiest care. Look at plant labels in nurseries and garden centers to check your choices. Buy a potting soil developed with nutrients for the types of plants chosen.

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  44. This is just what I want to do and plan to ask my husband and teens to make me a couple for Valentine's Day!!

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  45. Thanks so much for this. I've been trying to make planter garden boxes the right way, and now I can. Beautiful job!

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  46. This definitely gets me in the mood for spring. Thanks for the great idea!
    Painters

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