HomeWork: It's not too early to tackle this easy, affordable project. And there’s nothing quite as satisfying as growing your own garden.

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Q: Any easy outdoor projects to plan while waiting for warmer days to start rolling around?

A: Usher in the spring season with a DIY planter bed — it’s easy, affordable and can be completed in an afternoon. Not to mention, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as growing your own garden.

Tools

Hammer or sledgehammer

Drill

Driver bit

Tape measure

Circular saw or handsaw

Materials

1.75-inch exterior screws

3.5-inch exterior screws

2-by-8-foot boards (6)

Wood stakes

Landscape fabric

Building a planter bed not only serves as a reminder that sunnier, warmer months are on the horizon, but it’s also easy and affordable to make (cost: $50–$150; estimated time: 3-4 hours).

The nice thing about a planter bed, as opposed to a traditional garden, is that you can start completely from scratch — you don’t even have to have a soil foundation. Plus, a planter bed is customizable and allows you to control the soil and weeds without having to till your yard.

Step 1: Choose a spot

If you’re growing produce that requires a lot of light, keep that in mind as you plan your space and choose the best spot for your planter. Try to find some earth that’s relatively level — if you need to even things out, a shovel and a little bit of elbow grease will get the job done. I built a 4-by-8-foot planter because that’s what worked best for my yard, but the steps are scalable, so choose the dimensions that work best for you.

Step 2: Purchase and cut your lumber

Most people choose a naturally rot-resistant wood like cedar or juniper, but you can use pressure-treated wood, too. I opted for cedar, which comes in 8-foot boards. Juniper should be around 8 feet, but it’s not precision-cut, so double-check your measurements before you get too far.

We’ll be using six boards total — four will remain the 8-foot length, and two will be cut in half to equal 4 feet. Make your cuts with a circular saw or hand saw. Once you’re finished, you should have eight boards — four 8-foot boards and four 4-foot boards.

Step 3: Lay out your planter

Start by framing a rectangle on the ground using two of the 4-foot boards for the short end and two of the 8-foot boards for the long end. Attach the boards with two 3.5-inch exterior screws in each corner. I put the shorter boards on the inside, but the choice is yours.

Once the rectangle is screwed together, make sure it’s positioned where you want it. Then, if placing over a soil foundation, hammer in 2-foot-long wood stakes in the inside corners and along the walls — two on each long side and one on each short side. If you’re working over concrete or another hard surface, hold the stake level to the ground. Once the stakes are placed, attach them from the inside with 1.75-inch exterior screws — just make sure they don’t poke through the other side or you’ll scratch yourself.

Step 4: Add another level

If you’re growing vegetables, you’ll want at least 12 inches of dirt for the roots, and if you’re growing carrots specifically, you’ll want even more room. I’m building a two-level planter, but there’s really no height rule, so build as many as you want (you’ll just need long enough stakes and additional lumber and soil). The second level goes up just like the first one: frame the rectangle, screw it together, then slide it over the first. Once it’s placed, screw the stake to the frame.

Step 5: Lay landscape fabric, filler and soil

To prevent weeds from creeping in, lay down landscape fabric—it’s breathable, so the water will drain away just fine. If you want to raise your bed even higher than two levels, add a filler (concrete blocks, large rocks, etc.) so you aren’t filling the entire bed with expensive soil. If not, add your soil and start planting.

This project is completely customizable (you can add a cold tent for the winter months and even stain the frame to match your deck or siding) and easy to accomplish in an afternoon. Happy planting!

 

Brand manager Kirsten Dunn is a fifth-generation employee of Dunn Lumber, which is a member of the Master Builders Association (MBA) of King and Snohomish Counties. HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to homework@mbaks.com.