|Project by january||posted 01-14-2014 04:55 PM||2498 views||8 times favorited||10 comments|
Yep, the neighbors thought I was crazy when I tore out the grass in the front yard and put in these. Ah well. They’re jealous of my strawberries and tomatoes now!
Pretty simple construction. Four 5-sided garden beds built with 6” cedar boards from the big box home store. The beds are all 4’ wide by 11’ long on the long end. 9’ long on the short end. (The odd shape is because I’m planning on putting some fancy garden art/fountain/centerpiece thingy in the middle. Right now it’s an avocado tree in a barrel, but I have visions of babbling fountains!) I added cross beams in the middle to give the beds support and keep them from bowing in the middle, but kept the cross beams only 3” wide (6” boards ripped down the middle) so the soil would cover them up. I then laid newspaper in the bottom of the beds and put my soil mix in. At this point I should have dug them in and leveled them, but I ended up doing this the following spring after learning the hard way.
Phase two was “garden prettification” stage, much in demand by the better half who was still in shock over what I’d done to the front yard. I added the corner pieces—7” high cedar 4×4 posts with their inside corners hand-sawed out, mounted to the outside bed corners, and topped with a fence finial from the Big Box. The finial was the only treated lumber part in the whole bed, but only because I couldn’t find a cedar option. Serendipitously, I found out later that the finials were MASTERS at keeping garden hoses out of the beds.
Phase three was Trellis Phase, in demand by the drooping cucumbers and tomatoes come May. There’s a million garden trellises out there made with all sorts of recycled utilitarian stuff. But my goal was to keep it somewhat attractive. I live on a busy road in a nice part of town and the neighbors were already talking. I’ve put enough time in with the flimsy stakes and poles, so I also needed something solid and reusable from year to year. I modeled the trellises after a bunch of pergola designs I had seen online.
I ended up using 8’ cedar 4×4s as the posts. I buried about 6” of the bottom of the posts into the ground and notched out the side to hold the edges of the garden beds. I used carriage bolts to hold them in place so that I can take the trellises down at the end of the season. The notch and the bolts are what keep these things solid, square and upright. They’ve even weathered a hurricane. The beds themselves act as “tripods” for the posts.
Across the top are two 12’ cedar 6×1s, one for each side of the 4×4. The beds are 11’ long and the boards are 12’, so I only had a 1/2” on each end to get decorative. I used the outline of a large yogurt container to create the curve and used a coping saw to cut it out. I used carriage bolts to attach the tops here, too, so I could break them down. The crazy part is that even though this thing is enormously high (8 feet, I can barely reach the top), I still have to trim the tops off of my cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupes, and watermelons, who all reach the top of the trellis by mid-summer. Along the bottom edge of the horizontal trellis boards are a series of small cup hooks where I hang the nylon trellis netting I also get from the big box.
I tried to use mostly hand tools for this project (brace, hand saw), but since this was my first real woodworking project, I got frustrated a few times and resorted to my circular saw and drill.
In hindsight, things I wish I had done differently:
- Drilled the carriage bolt holes bigger. I have to beat them in every season.
- Bought clear cedar for the trellis. The knots didn’t bother me at the time but they do now.
- Sawed off the top of the trellis posts to make them level. The ground made them uneven and I got lazy and used the horizontal trellis beams to hide it. The first trellis you can’t tell, but the second is so uneven I couldn’t even put two carriage bolts in the right post.
All in all, a good learning project. The beds have been in operation now for two seasons and they’re still solid.
-- Heh heh, you said "wood"