20 May 2013

How to Build Raised Garden Bed Boxes (Growing Vegetables in our Driveway)

By Ed




Last time we talked about how (and why) we're Growing Vegetables in our Driveway (read Part 1 here)

Today, we're going showing you step-by-step how we built the raised bed garden boxes.



Our initial inspiration for these beds came from Ana White and her $10 cedar raised garden. Sadly, ours will cost more than Ana's, but we have our reasons.
  • We wanted a deeper bed.  Planting on a warm, dry driveway will mean our soil will dry out quicker. Deeper beds = more soil = more moisture for plants.

  • We wanted a stronger bed.  Ana's beds from fence boards are cheaper, if you can make that work for you, go for it.  But, we imagined a kid sitting (or walking or skateboarding) along the edge of our garden and seeing a split or bowed fence board and earth and seedlings pouring out. 

  • We wanted to put some landscape fabric inside the boxes so the earth didn't wash down our sloping driveway in the rain.

  • We wanted something for the long-haul. These will be part of our house's curb appeal. We wanted something attractive and durable. 

  • We chose cedar.  While Pressure-Treated boards would be less expensive, we didn't want those chemicals leeching into the food we were going to all this trouble to grow.

Our Materials List (per Box):

  • 4 cedar deck boards (5/4" x 6" x 8') ~ thicker and sturdier than fence boards \
  • 1 cedar fence board (1" x 6" x 4') ~ these will be the corner pieces
  • Outdoor screws/nails
  • Landscape fabric
  • Hammer and Drill
  • Staple gun/staples
  • Circular or Table Saw 


How to:

1. Cut the Deck boards in half. This should give you 8 four-foot lengths.  

2. Rip the Fence board down the middle (or get your building centre to do it for you - e.g. Home Depot will rip it for free.) Then, cut the resulting 1 x 3 into 11" lengths. (The Deck Boards are not actually 6" wide, due to finishing, so stacking two of them only makes the planters 11 inches tall.)




3. Assemble the first level of your frame. Arrange the deck boards into a box - it won't be a perfect square since you are drilling into the ends, but it will be close.

I found our picnic table to be a near-perfect jig for holding the frame parts together. In absence of an old picnic table, you may have a friend that can hold the parts for you.

Assemble it with screws, making sure to pre-drill the holes first since you are working near the ends of the material and it splits easily.

Picnic table jig. Not to be mistaken with a dance I do at summer BBQs after a beer or two.

Take the time to drill. Split ends are not just something you hear about on Vidal Sassoon ads. Ba dum bum


4.  Repeat the above steps for your second layer. Get the same friend to hold the two layers together, or use some clamps. Look the box over and make sure both layers are lining up all the way around.

Me and my friend the F-clamp.



5. Position the 11" pieces of fence board on the corners, covering the screw-joint (insert your own screw-joint joke here). Check things over and drive some nails.


A finished shot of a corner. Not super-pretty, but solid and nice enough for what we are doing.


6.  Repeat on the other 3 corners. The box in the foreground shows all 4 corners assembled and is ready to join its friend in getting lined.

You can see daylight under the front edge of the first box - hence the importance of lining them.


7.  Line the boxes with Landscape fabric.  Carefully trim and fold the corners and staple it all into place. Overlap by a foot in the middle of the box (unless you can find some 6-foot wide landscape fabric). You may be able to skip this step if your driveway is really level or if you are building your raised beds on top of earth.





Done! 


Final Price Talley for 1 box:
  • 4 Cedar Deck Boards (9.83 each) = $39.32
  • 1 Cedar Fence Board $4.49
  • Screws/nails ~ $3
  • Landscape Fabric ~ $25 for 100' (we used maybe 15') so $3.75
  • Total Cost = $50.56/ box
Not $10 a la Ana White, but the closest retail product we found was this one at Canadian Tire, $50, the same cost as ours, but it's smaller in size, unlined, fake wood and half the depth.  We feel good about our choice.


Next time we will talk soil and what to put into your frames to make them the optimal growth environment for seeds and seedlings.

After that, we're talking about choosing and planting - and our plan to get our daughter to try more veggies.




Questions, comments or complaints? (Other than how white my legs are... gimme a break, it has been a long winter.... and tanning isn't healthy... who am I kidding, this is as tanned as I ever get)


21 comments:

  1. These look really nice. Pinning for future reference!

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  2. Hi! Found your wonderful blog through Pinterest. I'm thinking about building a raised bed on the driveway of our new home. Quick question, how does it drain? Thanks!!

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    1. The landscape fabric isn't 100% waterproof, so water flows through it. It really just keeps the soil in place and the extra water drains away.
      Thanks for the question,

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  3. Great idea! What can you plant in these boxes? I'm looking to grow some carrots and squash.
    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Stephanie - here's what we planted last year - including carrots and squash! This year we are doing virtually the same - except no pumpkins. This year we're doing zucchini. :)
      http://www.frugalfamilytimes.com/2014/05/choosing-vegetable-plants-with-kids-our.html

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  4. These instructions were awesome & simple!! I built 2 of the boxes today & they turned out great!! I'm so excited!! Thank you, you guys rock!!

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  5. Hi there...can we use pinewood to build these?

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  6. What if you don't have a saw and have never used one before? Where does a beginner begin if he wants to DIY?

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  7. Here's some ideas that have helped a great many people: Google/Bing any aspect of DIY you're curious about. Hang out in home improvement stores such as Lowe's, etc and ask questions; get familiar with things. Whatever else you can think of that will give you information on doing what interests you.

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  8. You have two choices once it involves building a router table. Either you build one will|which will|that may fold in otherwise you can sit your router table on a clear surface. The folding one comes in handy if you lack cupboard space.

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  9. I just built this planter in 5' x 7' with weed control fabric and it's great! We needed 20 bags of soil to fill it. And I left one of the vertical pieces on each corner a little longer, so I can add a screen in the future if necessary (we have wild rabbits). Thank you so much!

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    1. That's so clever, Beverly! We're so happy the plans worked well for you. Thanks so much for letting us know! :)

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  10. What could you suggest for building on an upper lever apartment patio?

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    1. In that case, given your limited space, I'd go with pots. Easier to move into the sun when needed and will still leave you space for sitting out there. :)

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  11. The article you have shared here very awesome. I really like and appreciated your work. I read deeply your article, the points you have mentioned in this article are useful.

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  12. Thank Robin. This looks do-able. I can plant some carrots and squash.

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  13. Your guide is very detail and helpful. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Great guide. I'll do it to plant some carrot and strawberry in my little garden. Your guide make me feel it is easy to do so I think I can do it well. Thanks so much.

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  15. Hi, such a great idea! I'm thinking of adapting this for the roof. I was wondering if the landscaping fabric would have chemicals that might leech into the soil, would you know anything about that? Many thanks.

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  16. How great! I can’t wait to see the projects you did with the new saw! i will make for me new one.I love the progression shots! Your home is beautiful and shows so much love!

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