“How to” #1 – The Box


September 16, 2012 by frontyardfarm

Below is a quick outline of how we built our raised bed boxes.  These may not be the fanciest boxes, nor the least expensive.  But these are easy, fast, not too bad-looking and relatively cheap.  We happened to buy our building materials at Lowes.  Obviously any hardware store will have these supplies.

This is what it one looks like:

What you can’t see in this picture is this box is bottomless.  It really is just four sides.

Step #1 Go shopping.  This is what you will need to make one box:

  • 2 — 1” x 12” x 8’ #2 pine boards
  • 8 brackets to fasten your boards together.  We used Simpson Strong-Tie A21Z Angle Z-Max
  • 32 screws and a way to screw them in.  I am no Luddite* so I suggest a power drill.

Step #2 Cut the 8′ long boards in half.  You can have the nice people at Lowes cut your boards in half for you, or you can do it yourself if you have the proper equipment.  I luckily had the proper equipment: Matthew and a saw.  You’ll end up with four boards.

Step #3 Screw the boards together to make a bottomless box.  It is nice to have a second person to help you.  Perhaps more experienced craftsmen could screw two boards together without someone to hold them in place, but I am no such craftsman.  Matthew’s encouraging remarks about my incompetence with the power drill and his near constant corrections of my technique also constituted a kind of husband and wife bonding experience (really he was very helpful and encouraging of me to be hands on with every step of this project).

Now you have a box!  We built two our first day, and only later decided to add a third box.  It really didn’t take very long, and if Matthew had done all the power tool work himself rather than sharing the glory with me, each box would have taken probably 10 to 15 minutes to put together.

You could, of course, use something else to create your raised bed boxes, such as concrete block or cedar boards so that your boxes will last much longer.  Just remember to avoid treated lumber or creosote-treated railroad ties.  Anything that can leach harmful toxins into your soil is not appropriate.  Whatever you put into the soil goes into the plants and then into you.

In defense of our cheap pine boxes: we had built one when we lived beach side in Daytona.  It lived outside in the humid salty air for a full year without any damage or decay.

The cost breakdown of one box is as follows:

Boards – $11 each x 2 boards = $22.00

Brackets – $0.65 each x 8 = $5.20

Screws – $0.05 each x 32 = $1.60

Total cost for one box materials = $28.80 + tax

Coming up next – placing the boxes and filling them with soil.

*That’s sort of a lie.  I actually can be a bit of a Luddite when it comes to a few things, just not power tools.


2 thoughts on ““How to” #1 – The Box

  1. Charlton Estate Trust says:

    I like the idea of diving the bed up into squares!

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