How To Build An Elevated Garden

Good morning, all! I hope you had a fantastic weekend! The weather here was absolutely gorgeous, so I took the opportunity to work on a project outside–building an elevated garden table. These table gardens can be made to any size, and are perfect for people who live in apartments or condos, or who people who have a tiny back yard with no space for an in-ground garden.


I know this doesn’t really have anything to do with decorating, but Matt and I are so excited about being able to have fresh organic veggies growing right outside our door, and I know that many of you could use something like this, too! And really, I do think these elevated gardens look really nice, and would make a great addition to a patio, a deck, or any outdoor “room”.

So let me show you how to build an elevated raised bed garden table!

Tools & Supplies

  • 20 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′ cedar boards;
  • 1 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ cedar board;
  • 2 1/2″ screws for exterior use (these will be used for most of the project);
  • 2″ screws for exterior use (these will be used only for attaching the support pieces for the planting bed bottom);
  • Miter saw or chop saw;
  • Drill with drill bits and screwdriver bits;
  • Tape measure.

Instructions:

The outside measurements of this garden table are 4′ 4″ wide X 3′ 4″ deep x 36″ high.  The planting bed measures 15″ high on the outside, with about 12″ of planting depth on the inside.  If you’d like to make a different size, of course you’ll need to adjust the measurements given below.

I started out by cutting most of my boards.  I was making two tables, so for one table, you won’t need this many.  For one table, you’ll need:

  • For the long bed side boards – 8 pieces cut to 3 feet 11.75 inches (I wanted it to be as close to 4 feet as possible, but because the boards are never a full 8 feet long, I had to adjust a tiny bit);
  • For the short bed side boards – 8 pieces cut to 3 feet 4 inches;
  • For the long leg pieces – 4 pieces cut to 36 inches;
  • For the top short leg pieces – 4 pieces cut to 23 inches;
  • For the bottom short leg pieces – 4 pieces cut to 9.25 inches;
  • For the leg support crossbars – 2 pieces cut to 36.75 inches.

Keep all of the boards separated so that you can find the right pieces easily!

Start the construction with the legs.  First, line up a long leg piece and a top short leg piece so that they’re flush at one end and screw them together.  Repeat this with the other three legs.

Be sure to pre-drill for the screws!!  Cedar is very dry, and can split easily if you don’t pre-drill.

Next take two assembled legs and one leg support crossbar and position them as shown below.  Screw each side together with two screws.

Now position the bottom short leg pieces just below the crossbar, and screw into place.  Assemble the legs sections for the other side of the bed in the exact same way.

Now stand the leg sections so that the crossbar is closer to the top.  Take one of the long bed side boards and position on the ground so that the ends are flush with the leg sections.  Screw the board to the legs.

Repeat on the other long side, and then do the two short sides.  At this point, it should look like this…

Now start building up the sides of the bed, working on the long sides first, and then short sides last.  Each side uses four boards.

When you have four boards attached to each side, you can stand the bed upright.

To create the support for the bottom, cut the 1″ x 2″ piece of cedar long enough to fit along the long side of the bed, and screw into place using 2-inch exterior screws on the bottom edge of the inside of the bed.  Place the screws  pretty close together (about 5 inches) for maximum support.

Also cut support pieces to position on the legs, and screw into place at a height that is even with the other long support piece.

With the support pieces attached to both long sides of the bed (including the short supports on each of the legs), you can measure and cut the pieces for the bottom of the bed.  There’s no need to notch out any boards for the legs.  There will be a small gap, but not enough to go to any extra trouble for notching boards.

With all of the boards cut and put into place, it should look something like this…

The board in the middle of the bed that is standing on its side is like that only because I didn’t feel like ripping the board so that it would lie flat.  I figured that nobody would know it’s like that once the bed is filled with rocks, dirt, and plants.  :-D

And there it is…an elevated garden bed ready to be filled!

I’m so excited about getting our veggies planted!!  It’ll be so nice to be able to walk out our door and harvest fresh organic vegetables for our meals.

We’re reading up on square foot gardening and planning out our garden.  We hope to have lots of spinach, Romaine lettuce, kale, radishes, cilantro, celery, and lots of other goodies.

With two beds, we’ll have about 24 square feet of planting space.  Not too bad for condo living!

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Comments

    • says

      I’m not going to use any kind of garden cloth or landscaping cloth. The boards are close enough so that nothing will get through, but the cracks are just enough for drainage. I am going to use some garden rocks (lava rocks) to line the bottom before putting the dirt in.

  1. says

    Wow Kristi, you are an amazing lady. Until I took ill I did all these kind of projects. Have gardened in raised garden boxes, plus a huge homemade greenhouse that I designed for 32 years. Grow 70% of our food, a real task here where the growing season is about 90 days. LOVE this project and can’t wait to see what you grow.

    • says

      Thank you, Aradece! I can’t wait to see if I’m even CAPABLE of growing stuff. :-D I have the very opposite of a green thumb, so this should be interesting…LOL.

      • says

        Now forget everything you’ve ever heard about having a green thumb. I’ve taught gardening through my Nature’s Way column for fifteen years and the one thing I tell everyone there is no such thing as luck when it comes to gardening. It’s all a matter of giving EACH plant what it needs. Plants have needs like people, water, food and environmental, DO NOT USE anything labeled Miracle Grow on these plants, ONLY rich composted soil. You can mix some organic pig, cow or sheep manure in with it, but be very careful buying compost, some use septic sledge and you wind up with a toxic mix. Remember whatever the plants eat wind up in your food, NO bug poisons, NO sprays, NO gmo’s only open pollinated veggies so you can save your seeds, that actually maybe more important to learn than growing your own food. In 2994 I decided while I grew a lot of my seeds, I needed to learn to grow them all, not easy with such a short season and when things from the cabbage family often do not make their seeds till the next year, and often our lows go down to minus 30 F. during the winter, hard for anything to survive even under three feet of snow, but I learned and now grow ALL my own seed, it’s a matter of paying attention to what each type of plant needs and nothing else, like raising a child or a pet to grow up healthy. Have Matt ask me anything he needs to know when he writes me, he’s my brother, so makes you my Sister :-))

  2. says

    I turned out great! Jim and I are going to do a few planters along or deck railing. We have lots of space… but it’s the only spot the deer can’t get to without building an 8ft fence! Can’t wait to see everything start coming up!

  3. Stacie says

    I love this idea and want to build one of my own. Can you please tell me where you found the cedar boards? Thanks!

    • says

      Stacie, I found them at Home Depot, and they were about $6.75 each. I love the cedar boards, because they’re cut so straight and square–a breeze to work with. Just watch out for splinters, ’cause they’re incredibly rough. :)

    • says

      The first one took me several hours because I was figuring things out as I went, and also taking pictures for the tutorial (which always slows me down a bit). The second one took about 2 1/2 hours start to finish.

  4. says

    This is fantastic! I want to start a garden this spring and this is really great for a planter idea if you just build it up more. Thanks for the inspiration and tutorial.

    • says

      Thanks, Katie! I actually haven’t put soil in it yet. LOL…I’m running a bit behind on my planting. But each bed (I built two) has about 12 cubic feet of space to be filled with soil.

  5. says

    I LOVE this idea! We are in a townhouse with not much “green space.” Let’s see if I can get my husband to build this for me :O) Thanks for the tutorial!

  6. Tammi says

    How much did all the materials cost? I’m trying to determine if it would be cheaper to by the raised garden kit for $35 and buy extra wood for the bottom and legs. Can’t wait to build mine!

    • says

      Very well done!! I love the trellis idea. Now I’m contemplating adding a trellis to my garden beds. I want to grow cucumbers, and that would give them the climbing area they need. Thanks for the idea!

  7. Diane says

    Yey! We did it! My two sons and I made this for my husband’s Father’s Day present. He has become disabled and can’t bend over to reach the ground or lean forward from a sitting position, but he loves to garden as it reminds him of childhood with his great-grandmother. This bed is sturdy enough for him to lean against too! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  8. says

    I’m dying to make one of these! We’re moving to an apartment soon and it’d be great to take a small garden with us. I’m horrible at math, is 20 boards the amount for one bed? I’ve got to see if I can get the hubs on board, so I’m planning a budget.

      • Berry says

        For me: The 20 2x4s were spot on. Grab 2, not 1, of the 1×2 for the bottom supports.
        I used most of a box of 100 of the 2 1/2 screws, and a small handful of the 2″. One note
        when looking for cedar; there is a nice ‘finished on all sides’ type, and the fence rail type which is typically finished on 3 — the 2nd one is much cheaper and it looks just as good. I spent about $5 per board…

  9. Steve says

    started the box after getting all the materials today. Its a fun project and my first building or gardening project so i am very excited to see the results. If all goes well I will build a second and I am considering adding 18 inches to the leg supports and making a raised shelf

  10. Bill says

    Great DIY garden project! Current price for western red cedar at Home Depot in central Florida is $7.47 for 8 foot 2X4s. Red wood is pretty much impossible to find in this neck of the woods so cedar is definitely the best option…

  11. Berry says

    Built this today — and will build a 2nd one. The ONLY comment I would add is that I think the count for the 1×2 small piece of cedar for the bottom support is off by 1 — I wasn’t able to completely finish the project as I was short the two side pieces. HOWEVER, I am really happy with how it turned out. Supplies for me ended up under $120, and it took me about 2 1/2 hours to build… I am SO glad I found this site!!

  12. Victoria says

    Kristi, thank you so much for putting up a wonderful tutorial! I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how to make one. I would love to plant an herb garden, however I don’t want my dog to get into it.

    Did you screw the bottom boards into the support board? Or just place them on top of the support?

    Again, thank you for this wonderful tutorial!

    • Donald says

      not sure about douglas fir but you could use treated pine and line your box with ceder fence pickets. Is much cheaper that all ceder.

  13. Brandt says

    Was considering one of the 4′ by 3′ kits at Home Depot but wasn’t crazy about the idea of gardening on my knees. Started a search on the internet and found your plans. Extremely
    well done step by step intructions with excellent clear photos. Spent about $140 including the cedar, 2 pounds of 3″ woodscrews and had to use 2″ by 2″ redwood board for the support pieces. It was actually fun to build and went together perfectly. Looking forward to planting in the upcoming weeks. Thank you for putting this online!

  14. Tony says

    Our new pool is right where our old garden was, so this looks perfect for the deck! I’m going to build this the coming weekend…glad I googled this and found your sight! One quick question…how is the drainage situation? Our deck is nothing super fancy, but I am slightly worried about it draining on the deck. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Tony~
      The water does drain straight through the table, but if you use a garden cloth in the bottom before adding the rocks and dirt, you shouldn’t have any loss of dirt making a mess. Good luck!

  15. Daniel says

    I precut all of my boards with the measurements you provided but the short leg pieces ended up being . 25inches short.

  16. says

    Thank you Kristi for this project! The gophers are eating my plants as I write this and I have been trying to move everything into containers. I think I can do this project :-)

  17. Wayne says

    I made two of these for my wife and they’re working out great! We had one mishap however, and I’d recommend one change to avoid what happened to us…

    The bottom 2x4s sheared off on one side and dropped the entire load of soil onto the patio. :( I used the 2.5″ screws recommended, but rebuilt it with 3″ nails for extra support.

    Other than that, an excellent project!

  18. Kirk Alford says

    THANK YOU! My Mother-in-law loves to garden, but can’t bend and stoop as she once did, so my wife thought she would enjoy one of these. Problem is, I am not a handyman , by any stretch. These plans made a project that seemed quite daunting almost “Kirk-proof.” Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to make this project possible for almost anyone.

  19. Amy says

    What a great design, and the directions and measurements were the best! I made one but tweaked the measurements and made a 3×8 foot. Came out great! Filling it up this weekend! Thanks for publishing!

  20. says

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  21. Donald says

    I am tight on money but recently tore down a storage shed for free. I used the pine lumber to build my garden table and lined the inside of the box with ceder fence pickets. God Bless.

  22. R. Romero says

    I build mine based on this tutorial, thank you very much, I just have one question, what is the rock at the bottom for?

  23. says

    Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious
    if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can suggest?

    I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any
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  24. says

    I am really impressed with your writing skills and also
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  25. says

    Have you ever thought about publishing an e-book or guest authoring on
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  26. Chris says

    Hi! Great tutorial.
    I have a few questions. We do not own a saw so can Home Depot pre cut the wood?
    Are there any other options for the wood? Can any wood be used in place as long as it is covered with the cloth?

    I have read previous post, some are saying measurements are off.

    Thanks!

  27. Jonathan Greene says

    The parts listed under Tools & Supplies are for two tables, right? When I add up the wood needed from the instructions for one table it is close to half of the Tools & Supplies list. I just want to make sure that 10 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′ cedar boards and 1- 1″ x 2″ x 8′ cedar board is enough for one table.

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