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How To: Build a Container Garden

May 24, 2009

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Oh, contain yourself! My garden plan for this year consists of three 4×4′ raised bed containers, which means I needed to build two more boxes. Here’s my simple “how to” for building raised garden beds.

Supply List (for each 4×4′ box)

  • 2×6 boards* – 40 feet total (if you have to load them in your car you’ll want five 8-foot pieces, or you could cut them in the store)
  • 4×4 post* – 6 or 8 feet long
  • 48 3-inch or 3.5-inch nails (or screws)

* Most people recommend using cedar or redwood but I happened to have a bunch of lumber sitting around so I used plain old 2x6s – probably fir. True, they won’t last as long and they’re already a little beat up, but free is a pretty good price! Any wood will work as long as it’s not treated.


  • Tape Measure
  • Power saw (I used a circular saw, but a table saw would be ideal)
  • Hammer
  • Shovel

How To:

  1. Get out your tape measure and mark cut lines every 48 inches on your 2×6 boards. I recommend leaving about 1/16″ for the cut or measuring after each cut.
  2. Power saw time – make the cuts so you end up with 10 pieces that are 48 inches long.Container Garden Box
  3. Measure and cut your 4×4 post so you end up with four 16-inch pieces.
  4. Set two of the posts parallel on the ground, four feet apart and lay two of the 2×6 boards across them, even with the top.
  5. Nail two nails into the end of each board. Repeat with the second set of posts and two more 2x6s.Building Container Garden Boxes
  6. Turn your new contraptions upside-down and position them parallel on the ground, four feet apart. Place one of your remaining 2x6s between them and nail it in place. Repeat with another 2×6 and then with the other side.
  7. Grab a friend and flip your box over!Completed Raised Bed Container Garden Box
  8. Nail the last two 2x6s to the top of your box to be used as benches or “knee rests.” I think it gives it a nice, finished look without spending time making precise diagonal cuts for an “all the way around” border.
  9. Dig four holes in the ground for the corner posts.
  10. Position your box and make sure it is level before filling in the holes.

Now all you need to do is fill your new container garden with dirt and get planting!

–the Soybean

  • Glynis Shannon
    March 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    A great idea – thanks for including the pattern with measurements. I’ll have to try this!

  • wayne d
    February 15, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    ive been experimenting in my garden cause iam sick of tilling and bending over and picking weeds so ive been thinking of raised beds. i want my planters to last but 12″high 2 by cedar is to $$ , so i thought i could use the 3/4 cedar and stake every so often for support for bowing out just wondering if you tried it or if you think its workable because this is more my price range thanks

  • M
    October 23, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I used to make all my own pots and stuff out of old timber. I had my garden decked and used the leftover wood to create some excellent plant boxes :)

  • sarah von
    June 3, 2009 at 8:17 am

    Fantastic! I’m currently limited to what can fit on my balcony, but I love to give these a try!

  • Ronnica
    May 26, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I so want to do that some day…when I have a yard!

  • Erin @ Jetsette
    May 24, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I have a very similar raised container garden in my backyard. It’s a fantastic way to keep my vegetables and herbs away from other plantings in the yard. I surrounded my garden with PVC pipe and draped that in netting to keep the birds and squirrels away from the veggies. It’s worked like a charm.