Garden Box Ideas: A Comprehensive Guide

A garden box, also known as a raised garden bed, is a planter box that houses flowers, shrubs, veggies, small trees, and anything else you want to plant. It helps water drainage, protection from pests, and gives you easier access for maintenance and harvesting. These unique garden box ideas will give you inspiration for using them in your garden.

Use Them for Corners

You can save space in your garden while adding a unique look to your space by creating your own corner garden boxes. This is especially good for people who have little yard space, but still want to grow their own plants on their patio or deck.

Try creating stacked ones, like the example in the photo, for even more planting space and depth. Or, create triangular ones that can also fit in a corner of your deck, patio, or even a garden walkway. To create your own garden box, you’ll need several pieces of pressure treated wood, cut to size for your dimensions, soil, landscaping fabric, nails, hammer, stapler, saw, and a drill (source).

Give Yourself Easy Access

One of the benefits of using garden boxes is they give you easy access to your plants for maintenance, like thinning and watering, and harvesting. If you create a garden box that’s too large, you’ll find it difficult to get access to the middle of the box to reach the innermost plants.

An easy-to-access design, like the one on the photo, can allow you to have one large garden box to fit all of your plants in, while also leaving space for you to reach your plants from any angle.

You can do this even with smaller garden boxes, by leaving a small cutout at one end of the box, reaching in toward the middle. First, plan out the dimensions you want your box to be, and then give yourself about 18 inches of width for the cutout area for easy maneuverability and access to your plants.

Animal-Proof Them

One of the smartest things to use a garden box for is pest control. Since they’re already up off the ground, this provides good protection against some pests already. But, for protection against some taller, or climbing, animals that can still make their way into your plants, you’ll need some coverage on your garden boxes.

Consider using chicken wire and extra wood to build up your garden box to keep animals from harming your plants. You can also add some simple fencing around your garden box area, place some mesh on the inner sides of your garden box, or lay chicken wire on the ground near your boxes, since some animals won’t like to walk on the wire (source).

Make Them Fit Your Space

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Photo by Sarah and Jason licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Garden boxes are super useful for being easy to design to fit your space. You can make a garden box a simple square, as small as you need it, to fit even the smallest outdoor spaces. If you feel like you want to add onto your box later, make another one with the same dimensions.

If you find plans for a garden box you want to make, but the dimensions are too big for your space, use your math skills to scale it down. There are plenty of free resources online to help you build your own in a variety of styles and shapes.

For super tight spaces, consider making thinner garden boxes that you can line against walkways or up against the front of your house. It’s a good way to save yard space, while giving you room to grow your plants.

Save Space By Going Vertical

If you’re low on outdoor space, even on an outdoor patio, consider building vertical garden boxes that can house several plants without taking much room. Stan Sullivan demonstrates how to build a vertical garden box that’s perfect for housing small plants, like herbs. This vertical garden box is easily moveable if you want to relocate it later.

You can make vertical garden boxes in virtually any design you choose to make it best fit your space. Some handy materials for building your own include wire mesh, 2x10 and 2x4 wood boards, screws, or nails.

Draw your design first and measure out the space you have available to get your necessary dimensions. Homemade Modern has free plans you can download for stackable vertical garden boxes that can sit against a railing or wall, and are perfect for tight spaces (source).

Use Them as Your Garden

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Photo by PermaCultured licensed under CC BY 2.0

Garden boxes can absolutely be your garden, and they can make it beautiful. Mark out the area of your yard for your garden. Plan out how many garden boxes you’d like to have in your area and where you want them to go. Then, figure out your dimensions and build your boxes.

You can choose to keep them uniform sizes and shapes, or experiment with different lines for a unique effect in your garden. Put your boxes in their permanent places before landscaping. Leave the grass, or replace it with small pebbles, sand, mulch, or a material of your choice.

Not only will a garden made with only garden boxes be neat, sleek, and beautiful, but it’s also functional. Garden boxes can help gardeners grow productive vegetable plants in areas of poor soil and can prevent pests and disease (source).

Use Recycled Materials

You can make garden boxes quickly with a few pieces of wood. Why not use recycled materials to help your budget and remain eco-friendly? The video above demonstrates creating a garden box out of a free shipping pallet. It’s cheap, and couldn’t get much easier.

Did you know that cardboard and newspaper can also be effective materials in preventing grass and weed growth in your garden boxes? Soak newspaper in water for about two hours. Then, place the newspapers at the bottom of your garden boxes after you’ve pulled weeds and mowed the grass.

Make sure the layers overlap slightly so no grass or weeds can poke through. Make the layers two to three inches thick. Then, add your soil on top. Recycled paper will now help you control weeds in your garden boxes (source).

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