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.
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. 😀
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!
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
Are you going to line it with anything? Or will you just put all the stuff directly in?
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.
Can I use Douglas fir to build the garden table? Home Depot was out of cedar.
Love this ~ great idea!
You are quick – one day you’re going to the store to buy supplies, the next thing I know, you are done!
Love it and can’t wait to see how nice it looks brimming with all the pretty veggies and herbs!
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.
Thank you, Aradece! I can’t wait to see if I’m even CAPABLE of growing stuff. 😀 I have the very opposite of a green thumb, so this should be interesting…LOL.
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 :-))
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!
Awesome, I need some of these. Maybe I would garden. Send me some veggies!
Love this! We’ve had bunnies in the past ravage all our veggies, so this is a great idea, thanks for sharing!
I love this idea and want to build one of my own. Can you please tell me where you found the cedar boards? Thanks!
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. 🙂
Love it and can’t wait to build one!!!
Looks great! How long did it take to cut and assemble? Was it a one day job?
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.
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.
Lovely! How much soil did this take to fill?
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.
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!
Thank you so much for sharing this! I am so inspired and I pinned it 🙂
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!
These cost about $150 each to build. But they’re amazingly sturdy, and made of 2″ x 4″ cedar.
Love this! How do you keep the wood from rotting?
It’s made of cedar, so it’ll last many years. Untreated cedar is often used for wood fences. It’s lasts a very long time.
I’d love to know how the gardening is coming. Here are some ideas for free organic fertilizers.
WE LOVE our Elevated [Vegetable & Herb] Garden! Your instructions were great! We added trellises to the back of ours so our tomatoes and green pepers had something to climb. Please take a look at our Elevated Garden! (Note, we still have a few more veggies and herbs to add)
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!
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!
What a nice gift, Diane! I’m sure he’ll enjoy getting his hands in the soil again.
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.
It’s been several months since I made these, but 20 boards per table sounds right. Hope you can get your hubby on board! 🙂
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…
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
Hey, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea if it works out right!
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…
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!!
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!
The bottom boards are just resting on the supports. I didn’t see a need in screwing them in. With the dirt on top, they’re not going anywhere. 🙂
Can I use Douglas fir to build the garden table? Home Depot was out of cedar.
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.
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!
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!
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!
What kind of garden cloth did you use on the bottom?
I precut all of my boards with the measurements you provided but the short leg pieces ended up being . 25inches short.
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 🙂
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!
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.
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!
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.
I build mine based on this tutorial, thank you very much, I just have one question, what is the rock at the bottom for?
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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.
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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.
You need 20 8ftx2x4 boards and one of the smaller boards
This looks like just what I’m looking for, but I don’t see any way to print the directions/illustrations. Do you sell the instructions?
Thank you so much fir posting step by step instructions. I built mine today, it was so easy to follow & I’m so excited about it.
I just built this project yesterday because my wife really wanted an elevated veggie bed. I would consider re-doing the “For one table, you’ll need:” part of the article. It leaves out the wood required for the bed bottom. I had to make a return trip to Home Depot to get additional boards. Otherwise, nice job!
Hey, I’m kind of new to building. I can’t even find 2″ x 4″ by 8′ anywhere (Online at least, I’ll go to the stores in the morning..) But $140 is kind of steep, I’m on a budget. Would it be frowned upon to use whitewood stud instead? I don’t know too much about wood, so I wanted to ask before I flushed $60 down the toilet using a type of wood that is just going to rot away on me.
You might ask at the hardware store before buying whitewood. I don’t think that’s as weather and bug resistant. Cedar is naturally weather and bug resistant, so it’s perfect for using on outdoor projects, and since it lasts so long, it’s usually worth the extra money.
Yes, I talked to some people I work with and they said it wouldn’t be good unless I used a water sealant. Think I’m gonna have to save up for a bit, and maybe find something to do inside the house for the time being. Saving this for later, though. Thank you for the directions!
My husband and I made this garden box in one afternoon- instructions were very easy to follow- thank you!!!
To make it look a little more snazzy we added a trim around the top of the box and it ended up looking really great.
went to buy material for theis kit. when we got to the part of putting the lower leg on it was too short. Suggestion is to put crossbar on then measure for the bottom part. We had a big gap between the 2 because the measurements were not correct. The plus on my side is that we put wheels on it for easy storage.
I am attempting to build an elevated garden bed for an assisted living/nursing home as a non profit initiative project. I love the simplicity of this design and wanted to just know two things. What would be the difference in the amount of cedar needed for a 2×4 instead of 4×4 bed and also how much weight can this thing hold? I am super afraid of it capsizing or bottoming out since it will be around a lot of elderly in wheelchairs and I don’t want the possibility of injury once so ever! Thanks so much for the post!
What thickness do you use?
I wanted to say thanks for posting your elevated planter design! Even though you wrote it more than 3 years ago, it’s still helping people today. I made a version last weekend. Mine’s double-length with three sets of legs instead of two, and it’s a little deeper. But your detailed photos made it easy to tweak the sizes a bit and it came out great!
I have been trying to make this for a couple of days now: first time I didn’t measure very carefully so I ended up with many extra boards that I will be using in another raised bed. I think this is the most sturdy raised bed I have seen. Because the legs are so sturdy, I am planning to add on to the bed. I haven’t designed it yet because I want to get this one lined and filled bc my strawberries are already growing so I need to get them planted. I will be sure to let ya know how this works out. Thank you for the very detailed and helpful tutorial.
My hubby is building me two of these and so far one is done. I love it so much! Thanks for posting.
I made two very similar to these last year. Mine are 4×5′ and ran about $130 each for materials. Some things I learned:
– no more slugs in the lettuce, easier on the back, and much easier to weed and tend.
– place it where you want before adding soil – they are quite heavy when filled
– use garden cloth in the bottom; otherwise draining water will constantly wash soil out even if the board gaps are small.
– elevated beds drain quickly and the soil dries rapidly. You need to water more frequently. Not a problem, but be aware.
Great elevated garden box. I built a 6’x3.5’dx3’h one. I see you did not use any liner. Do you have issues with dirt leaking out the sides?
I don’t have these anymore (I left them in the condo courtyard when we moved), but I”m pretty sure that I did use liner.
Be advised that the skyrocketing cost of cedar has nearly tripled the cost of this project.
Worked great! love the addition to our garden, much cheaper than buying something. Thanks for posting.
Thank you for posting this design. I just completed our own version this past weekend with the kids and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can grow in our new raised garden.
We ended up tweaking a few of the dimensions, so the only recommendation I might make is to cut and build the legs first in order to confirm/finalize the rest of the dimensions.