One of my goals for 2013 was to build three garden boxes and get these gardens set up. It’s a project we have been wanting to work on for a long time as a fun weekend date after we found out that buying garden boxes ready-made is super expensive, and the quality of those boxes are yuck. Frugal Alice says, “Yeah right!”
Last Saturday, after RJ had done some research on building garden boxes online, we set out for Lowe’s to gather the materials. But since we are both P’s (according to the Myer’s Briggs) we both only had a vague idea of what we would need. #teammarriageftw!!!
So we walked aimlessly down the lumber aisle for a couple of hours, nearly deciding on wood that would either rot or leech harmful chemicals into the soil (on accident, of course), before finally deciding on a more expensive wood. While Frugal Alice was definitely cringing, she would also rather have a garden box that will last and offspring that do not have three eyes.
Anyways, I thought I would document the process in case you ever endeavor to make garden boxes of your own, as RJ and I had to figure out how to work around a few kinks ourselves. I hope that it cuts down on the amount of time this project takes for you, since it took us one day to get the supplies and two additional days just to finish one box. Granted, we were at the mercy of the battery life of our power supplies in construction. :P But anyways.
DIY Redwood Garden Box
- 4 2x6x6 Redwood or cedar lumber
- 4 2x6x4 Redwood or cedar lumber
- 1 3.5×3.5×8 Redwood or cedar lumber, cut into four 1.5′ and two 1′ pieces
- 24 3.5″ decking screws
- power drill
- power screwdriver
- handsaw, Sawzall, or miter saw
- step stool
Like I mentioned, we spent some time trying to figure out which type of lumber would be best for this project. Cedar is like impossible to find in California, and we had thought about using pressure-treated lumber, as it has been treated to keep it from rotting.
After about 1.5 hours of debating and going back and forth, we asked the Lowe’s employee whether pressure-treated lumber would be safe to use for a garden box, to which he replied, “Nope, it’ll leech.”
So RJ turned to me and said, “So…Redwood??”
Redwood is another hard type of lumber which keeps from rotting, and the fun part is, it kind of looks like it’s been soaking in red Kool-Aid! It is literally a red wood. #mindblown
Anyways, we actually got 4 2x6x10 planks of Redwood, which the employee at Lowe’s cut into 6′ and 4′ pieces using his guillotine looking thing for free. Usually it’s about 25 cents a cut. Unfortunately, they couldn’t cut the 3.5×3.5×8 lumber as it wouldn’t fit in the machine, so we had to do that by hand at home.
I thought it’d be super fun to take a picture of RJ pushing the cart with me and the lumber, and envisioned it to be super cutesy, with my hair flowing in the Lowe’s breeze. But this is what we got. Hahahaha.
<Sigh> What were we expecting from the large tattooed employee behind the paint counter??
On the first day of construction, we began by cutting the 3.5×3.5×8 Redwood lumber into four 1.5′ and two 1′ segments. This took us a while…
First, we had to mark the 3.5×3.5×8 lumber to divide it into four 1.5′ pieces and two 1′ pieces. I did the math, it equals 8′. I’m Asian.
Then, we laid the 3.5×3.5×8 lumber board on a stack of lumber to be able to cut the board easier.
We’ve been blessed to have some amazing garage sale finds, including this Sawzall! Unfortunately, as as you can see, it’s a little too dinky to cut through the wood.
So we had to resort to old-fashioned manual labor with a hand saw.
Of course, you know, since I am a strong, independent woman, I wanted to help out with the sawing too.
However, in the time it took for me to saw one piece, RJ could do three. I think he even went inside for a little break while I was still sawing. But whatever, women’s liberation and empowerment!!!
But I did it!!! I really did! And the second cut I made went a lot faster. Um yeah, and I am wearing yellow chucks and turquoise argyle socks. Trend alert!!
After cutting the 3.5×3.5 board into the lengths required, we began construction by setting one of the 2x6x4 flat planks flush against the tops and sides of two of the 3.5×3.5×1.5 pieces. (And just FYI, I really think you need at least two people to do this project. I mean, you can do it alone, but it’ll be a LOT harder.)
After making sure the plank was flush against the top and side of the 3.5×3.5×1.5 piece, I marked out three staggering drill holes for RJ to drill, and maybe you won’t run into this problem, but our drill bit wasn’t long enough to drill through both pieces of wood, so we had to physically remove the plank, look for the indents where the drill bit cut into the bottom piece of wood, and drill in those indents. This is where marking a penciled line along the bottom of the plank onto the 3.5×3.5×1.5 piece of wood as a point of reference helps, in knowing where to replace the top plank of wood. Repeat this whole process on the other end of the plank with a new 3.5×3.5×1.5 piece of wood before fastening the lumber together.
After the holes have been drilled in the top plank and bottom piece of lumber on both ends of the plank, use your electric screwdriver to fasten the pieces of lumber together with the deck screws. Alignment is important with this, so make sure to use your penciled line of reference!
And you know, when you’re screwing screws into hard wood, it helps to not be a tiny little 5’6″ 112 pound Asian girl. You can probably tell from the photo that I am trying REALLY hard to put my entire weight into screwing these pieces of lumber together. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t do it. Kids, don’t listen to your parents and teachers when they tell you you can do anything you set your mind on. Because sometimes you can’t. You just freaking can’t. #reality #buzzkill #lifelessons #debbiedowner #welcometolyfe (man, hashtags galore today!)
Repeat this process in fastening a second plank of 2x6x4 Redwood right underneath the top plank you’ve just fastened. You want to mind the gaps, as you don’t want water or dirt spilling out of the gaps between the planks when your garden is set up.
When you are finished, it should look like this:
Complete the opposite wall of the garden box by repeating this entire fastening process in the same manner with the remaining 2x6x4 boards and 3.5×3.5×1.5 pieces of Redwood.
This next part ended up being a little tricky, and I think we could figure out how to do this better, but we arranged the boards in the following fashion to begin to fasten the remaining planks of Redwood. And our reasoning for doing so was we needed to screw in the screws from top down so we could use our body weight to our advantage in doing so.
Repeat the entire fastening process on one side of the garden box using two of the 2x6x6 planks of wood (making sure the plank is flush against the tops and sides, marking drill holes and marking along the bottom of the plank of wood onto the 3.5×3.5×1.5 piece of wood on both ends of the unfastened plank, drilling, removing the plank to drill into the bottom piece of wood, etc. etc.). Make sure as you mark the drill holes that the screws won’t hit the screws that are already coming in from the side.
This is where the step stool will probably come in handy.
Once you are finished with the third side of the garden box, fasten the remaining two 2x6x6 planks of Redwood on the final side of the garden box. This gets a little tricky, as the sides you are fastening onto may bow in a little, making the last two planks not rest evenly and flush.
The way RJ and I addressed this problem was after we made sure one side was flush along the top and side, we marked and drilled holes in both the top and bottom pieces of wood on that side. Then we fastened that side of the plank first with one screw, marked the drill holes on the other side, and one person held the side of the garden box with the other side of the plank together, leaning the side of the box in whatever direction it needed to go to have the sides be flush. For example, the side of our box was leaning in so when we placed the plank on the final side, there was a lot of overhang on one side of the box.
I had to hold the unfastened side of the plank with the side of the garden box so that they were flush (or close enough) together as RJ drilled the holes into the top plank of wood. We then had to swing that plank out so he could drill holes into the bottom piece of wood, swing it back, and I had to hold the pieces together again as RJ fastened them together with screws. Then he went back to the other end of the plank and fastened the other screw in.
Fastening the second plank of wood was easier once the first was in place. Finish the box by fastening this last plank of Redwood.
And there you have it folks, a finished garden box! :)
By the way, if you are wondering what the bottom posts are for, you anchor the garden box posts into the ground to secure the garden box in place so it doesn’t shift.
It’s not perfectly aligned, which drives me a little nutty (#OCD) but hopefully, as RJ and I get smarter in making garden boxes, we can fix these issues in garden box #2 and garden box #3.
And of course, what better photo op than a finished project??
And of course, to Daisy, it’s not a garden box. It’s an obstacle course!
Anyways, thanks for reading, folks! I hope this helps some of you in the future! And I will be sure to post when we have our garden boxes all set up. :)