This is my first garden box!
Table of Contents
- Start: April 18, 2020
- End: April 19, 2020
- Wood Species: Redwood, Southern Yellow Pine
During the shelter-in-place order due to Covid-19, I’ve had some extra free-time as some of my other hobbies aren’t possible to conduct. My sister, in a similar situation, wanted to engage in more gardening. Because digging in a rental unit’s backyard is likely not a great idea, we decided that making a garden box could be a fun experience and a good use of our extra freetime.
All time accounted for including designing, material purchases and manufacturing, the project was completed in ~6hrs spanning one weekend.
Any garden box has to be made from materials that highly resist rot due to the exposure of moist soil.
Additionally, the material can’t be toxic to the plants grown in them or humans who would eat the plants grown in the box. Thus, we had to choose untreated lumber. Since we reside on the West Coast, Redwood is readily available in lumber stores in rough-cut, untreated form, is affordable and looks quite nice in these kinds of rustic/earthy projects.
We chose a very simple design with minimal materials needed.
My sister desired a depth of approximately 15" so that deep rooted plants could grow, a long length (between 4ft and 8ft) and reasonable width (at least 2ft). Thus, after shopping at Lowes and surveying their available board lengths, we decided on a design whose final dimensions are ~15"x2.5’x5’. These dimensions optimized our lumber purchases for my sister’s range of desired box sizes.
Thus, the entire box is constructed from nine rough-cut, 5’x2"x6" Redwood planks (purchase from Lowes at ~$4.60 per plank) as well as one 8’x4"x4" Southern Yellow Pine post to serve as the legs (purchased from Lowes at ~$15).
The construction of the box is very straighforward and best demonstrated by the following pictures.
Of note, is the fact that we chose to space the bottom support planks with gaps.
This was done to allow efficient drainage of water, reduce the amount of lumber needed and to help better aerate the soil. Of note, is the fact that we used outdoor screws.
We wanted the box to be portable. To faciliate this, I installed four Caster wheels1 on the box’s 4"x4" leg posts. We chose a wheel that can lock as well as handle 125lbs (because the box would be quite large and contain ~15.6ft3 of volume that could be filled with soil of volume that could be filled with soil). Thus, our wheels could handle a total of 500lbs, which we felt more than adequate to hold the weight of the box and the soil. In all likelihood, the supporting, bottom planks of the box would likely fail before that 500lb limit was met.
Next, we needed to line the interior of the box with a suitable landscape fabric that could offer some protection for the wood against roots and soil and most importantly, keep the soil from spilling through the cracks of the box. This landscape fabric cost ~$15 from Lowes.
The last step was to fill the box with soil. It just happens that Lowes sells 3ft3 bags of soil intended for suspended platforms. Considering that the box’s volume is ~15.6ft3, the volume of the soil bags and the fact that my sister wanted some room left at the top of the box to prevent soil from spilling over the edges, we decided to purhcase four soil bags.
To provide a vertical scaffold that the tomatoes (and whatever other plants in question) could grow on, we purchased and installed two garden trellises from Lowes2. These are simply staked into the soil within the box.
Finished Garden Box
At this point it was ready for my sister to move to its final location and begin planting!