Raised Planter Box Construction

How we made The Raised Planter Box

I credit my dad for spurring me on and motivating me to finally start writing and documenting everything happening here at Casa de Las Lomas. Dad was fascinated and curious with all of the pictures I was sending him. He would message back tons of questions about the minutest details of everything he saw from my homemade sangria to the reasoning behind using Fruit Loop colors on my new surfboard. He has finally thrown me over the edge…. so, here I sit…blogging. Being that this was the very first thing we constructed on the property, I dedicate this segment to my dad who absolutely loved our raised planter boxes, and of course, wanted to know all of the details!

The anxiety of buying a home was about to become a reality. While closing escrow, R relieved his stress by focusing on what to do with the wide-open land soon to all be his. Since I am his partner in such matters, he consulted with me on what he feared could become a dilemma. He knew he wanted a big garden, lots of fruit trees, and a couple of open spaces for a greenhouse and perhaps a small casita some day- in the event he ever decides to retire early and travel full time (dreaming!), he could rent out the main house and still have a place to return to. R left for vacation soon after moving day and had some time to hatch out a plan for the half-acre property. As he swung in a balcony hammock overlooking mango trees sipping smuggled IPAs after long surf sessions, he designed a garden with six raised planter boxes for all of our fruit and vegetable seedlings beginning to sprout in their peat pots. With some minor tweaks, and trial and error, we began construction a few days after his return to California:

The dimensions of one planter box is 4ft x 8ft.

Here is a breakdown of all of the supplies and tools we used to make one planter box.

Supplies:

  • Six 8ft 2×6’s for the sides
  • One 10ft 2×4 in 14in. cuts for the corner and long side midway support/stakes
  • 3in. drywall/wood screws
  • 2 ½in. drywall/wood screws(I suggest a box of 100 plus for each type of screws- you’ll be using a lot and always want to have these on hand)
  • Roll of ½ inch square wire mesh

Tools:

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Circular saw
  • Power drill (two are ideal- one for drilling starter holes and one for drilling screws)
  • Large clamp
  • Heavy-duty staple gun/staples

Picture Tutorial:

IMG_5020
This is a garden box upside down.  We rolled out the wire mesh to cover the bottom, cut it to size and stapled the edges.  Here you can also see the 14in 2×4 cut supports.  They are flush to the corners on top, but extend out the bottom in order to stake into the ground.

IMG_5021

Here is the topside of a garden box.  3in screws were used in the corners where the 2in side of the 2×4’s butt up against the horizontal 2×6’s.  2 1/2 in. screws were used everywhere else.

IMG_5019
Here you can see that we dug up and loosened the dirt before setting down each garden box.  We also dug six holes for the 2×4 stakes, to settle each box in so that it would align evenly on all sides.

IMG_5018

Our Trial & Error Tips:

It’s really handy to have two power drills- one for drilling starter holes and one for drilling screws in.

If making more than one planter box, cut starter kits for each one. Once the wood is all cut, the planter box making process goes as smooth as building with Legos…sort of.

Construct boxes on a large flat concrete surface, like a driveway, if available. This will make it easier to align and balance the wood pieces when putting the box together. Just make sure you have a strong and willing partner to help carry the final box to its location ;).

Chick Talk:

One of the many questions I plagued R with during this building process is why a 2×4 is called a 2×4 when it’s really a 1.5×3.5.  Or why a 2×6 is really a 1.5×5.5.  I was totally thrown off when R said our planter box would be 11 inches above the ground.  If you are not a contractor or engineer of some sort, the following information will be very useful, not to mention great trivia!  Way back in the day, lumber was sold as “green”, meaning, cut in its naturally fresh, moist form.  The excessive weight and crude physical conditions were problematic during transport and construction.  Therefore, wood manufacturers began kiln drying their lumber, making it lighter, less splintery, and with smaller actual butt length and width dimensions.  Rather than changing the standard names, this knowledge itself became standard among builders.  As for me, I found a wood-sizing chart.  Thank goodness the length measurements are true!

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