DIY Raised Garden Bed With Drawers

Thinking about trying to build your own DIY raised garden bed? Check out this awesome DIY project where I built a raised garden bed with drawers!

Gardening is something I’ve been wanting to get into, so this week I built a raised garden bed. I raised it off the ground not only because I live on mostly rock but also so I won’t have to kill my back or knees when tending to it. When designing the big box I decided to add in some built in storage for tools or extra fertilizer, or even a hat and basket. Lets jump into how I did it. 

Things I Used In This DIY Raised Garden Bed Project:

ISOtunes Bluetooth Hearing Protection
Miter Saw
Miter Saw Stand
Titebond III
Super Jaws
Cordless Nailer
Woodpeckers Square
Plastic Liner
Perforated Drain Pipe (w fabric sleeve)
Pocket Hole Jig
Drawer Slides
Precision Speed Square
General Finishes Outdoor Stain

Since this is an outdoor project I’m using Cedar for the vast majority of the build. I started off by flipping out the wings of my miter saw stand and cutting down the boards that will make up the front, back, and two side panels. I do have a set of raised garden bed plans for this project if you would like a cutlist, material list, and dimensions. 

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Next I set a round over bit in my router table and gave all the long edges a gentle rounding. This will take the boards from butting up to each other at a hard 90 on that very front edge and will soften the overall look.  

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Here’s a close up so you can see the difference….hard 90 edges vs rounded over edges. It’ a small detail but creates a drastically differently look.

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Now to make the side panels. I first cut some corner posts, if you will, and these will be used to attach the slats easily. Since this is an outdoor project I’m using only Titebond III since it’s a waterproof wood glue. You wouldn’t want to use a glue that would desolve when it rains. I applied a bead on the post then started attaching the side slats.

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After making sure it was square to the post I would pre drill then attach it with screws. I finished with one side then flipped it around and repeated on the other. Then of course with two sides being needed for the planter, I finished with that one then repeated to make a second. 

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I grabbed some Triton Superjaws to stabilize one of the panels for me while attaching, and this helped keep everything in place while I attached the ends. I once again laid down a bead of Titebond III then repeated with predrilling and driving in screws.

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This project might be big but it comes together surprisingly quick! That’s three sides done, so I flipped it over and did the same to the remaining side.

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Since I’ll be adding in drawers to utilize most of the wasted space under the bed, I left off some of the panels on this side. You’ll see that more clearly later on. 

Next was to add the trim to the corners. I first attached some scraps to build up the posts in this drawer area so that everything would be on the same level. Then it was as simple as cutting the boards to length, laying down some more glue, then nailing it in place with my pin nailer. I went with nails here to avoid screw heads. It probably isn’t obvious from this angle but these trim boards also double as four legs for the planter. 

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I set that aside, and started a new work area in front of it, to assemble some simple framing structure that will allow me to add a deck as well as the drawers. I started by taking measurements of the inside of my planter then cut my 1x4s and some 2x4s to length to match. Now, if you aren’t wanting to add drawers then placing these framing members isn’t a big deal But, if you want drawers like me then take your time to get these boards spaced evenly and squarely because they dictate the size of the drawers. 

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Alrighty, now to fit it inside the planter. I built it outside then inserted it just to avoid having screws on the outside of the slats. I shimmied it into place then backed it out just slightly so I could lay down some wood glue. I referenced one of the slats to line this up evenly around the entire planter. You can see that I used a brad nailer here to clamp the board in place while that glue had time to set up. 

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Cool, and that is a great start, so now to add a deck. I will be lining my planter with a pond liner so I built my deck from plywood however if you won’t be lining yours then using a slatted design is another method. After cutting my deck to size and also cutting the corners to compensate for the corner posts then I dropped it in place. Ha, it’s always a good feeling when it fits the first time. 

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With the deck in, I next added in some intermediate bracing on both of the long sides of the planter to prevent them from wanting to bow out. I set the brace in place and started my predrill so that one screw would hit each slat. Then I followed with screws, using a square to make sure it went on nice and straight. 

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Next came the liner. I went with a liner because I’m going to be trying out a submerged irrigation system where I’ll have a resevior of water at the bottom of my planter. It’s kinda like a soaker hose but instead of dripping in constant water from the top, I’m keeping it at the bottom for the plants to drink from.

I got a fish safe plastic liner (meaning no harmful chemicals to seep into the food) that is about 6mil thick and spread it inside the planter. I used a staple gun to staple it down into the bottom and corners, then worked my way up the sides and onto the top. You don’t have to go overboard with the staples here but you do want to apply enough so that when you fill it with soil, it won’t want to slip down.

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The very top lip is where I applied the most staples actually, I placed one about every 8”.

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Now was the top trim. These are also cut from cedar 1x4s and are placed directly on top so if you have any producing staples then just be sure to hammer them down flush. I started by attaching the two longer sides then the two shorter sides. When I went to place the short sides I didn’t like how much rocking there was so I quickly added in a scrap piece flush with the top slat to support it. Oh, and I also went back and duct taped over all the bottom staples. This might be overkill, but since I’m adding drawers under it, I’d rather be safe than sorry. And that is the outside of the planter done.

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Ok now lets make this reservoir! I saw the idea in a magazine and they said to use perforated drain tube with a fabric sleeve (You can find this at any big box stores). This is corrugated plastic hose that has perforations all around it. The holes will allow water in and out but the fabric will keep soil out.

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The idea is to cut it to the length of your planter, so that the ends fit snuggly against the walls of the inside. Cut multiple lengths to evenly space across your bed, I placed three lengths and since it still wants to curl from being on it’s spool, I used some soil to weigh them down and keep them still. 

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In the middle one, I drilled a hole that fit a small length of PVC. This will be where I can fill the reservoir so it needs to be tall enough where it will protrude from the soil once the planter is filled. 

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Then on the opposite end I punched a hole through the planter and also the hose to create a drain. So the way it works is you fill one reservoir from the fill hole, when it gets full, the water will seep out to fill the other lengths of hose. Once they’re full, the excess water will drain out. The plants roots will always have access to water, it keeps lots of water from evaporating, and also means I don’t have to worry about bringing in somebody to water when I leave town for a few days. 

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I actually got ahead of myself by putting the lines inside before making the drawer system. It will be much easier to install the drawers with the planter on it’s side. I moved some plastic in to catch the dirt that falls out, then tipped the planter back over. 

I first needed to make some hangers that will hang down from the faming members under the deck to give me something to attach sliders to. These are made from 1x4s and I used my Armor Tool self adjusting pocket hole jig to drill a few pocket holes into each horizontal piece. Just a tip, when I’m done with my jig I always take the time to loosen the collar so it’s ready to be set the next time I pull it out to use. 

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On these hangers, I left one leg longer than the other and this will create a middle row of legs that will give support to not only the drawers but also the deck. Now if you tackle this project, and don’t want the drawers you could leave them out and either carry the slats all the way down on both sides, or leave the bottom of the planter exposed where the slats end at the deck on all sides. 

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After I finished making all the hangers, I attached the drawer slides. Now I went with metal drawer slides because they are under the deck, which has a liner in it….so I’m thinking these will stay out of the weather and hold up really well. However, an alternative would be to use plastic slides or even make your railing system from wood. I’ll keep you posted on how mine do over time.

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Next I took the hangers and started attaching them to the planter. The important thing here is that they are square and in line with each other. I used wood glue and the deck and framing members as references. However, I did double check them with my precision speed square before throwing in a few nails. I also double checked that I was attaching them in the correct orientation with the longer leg in the center of the planter.

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I let that glue set up and moved over to making the drawers. I kept these at 3/4” material since I had some left over from the deck and if you did a precise job on framing the underneath then your drawers here will all be the same size. I cut all the pieces needed to make up three drawers then attached them. I kept drawer construction simple since I don’t anticipate holding too much heavy stuff in these. 

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With those made, I attached the second portion of the drawer slide to the two sides and then mated the two together to slide the drawers in their place. I once again found this much easier to do with the planter on it’s side. We’re getting closer!

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I designed it so that the drawer faces will look like the slats above it. With that, I took a few measurements to compensate for the reveals on all sides, then cut them to length, rounded them over, and stuck them in place.

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Alright and now it’s just the finishing touches! Lets put some protection and color on it shall we? I had such great experience before with General Finishes 450 outdoor stain, that’s what I chose to go with here. It is specially designed with an exterior rated pigment that will give you the durability to protect your project but also has a resin system that provides good adhesion. It dries extremely quickly (in just an hour or two) and doesn’t require a protective top coat. 

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I used a roller to apply the stain, a paper towel to wipe off the excess, and then a dolly on either end to move this big box outside where it will live.

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I chose to go right outside my shop, on the corner, so that it’s close enough to pick off fruits of my labor but out of the way of my bay doors. In this spot it will get plenty of morning and early afternoon sun, but the porch will provide shade from the heat of the day and evening sun. 

With the planter in it’s final resting spot, I filled in the rest of the planter with soil. It’s worth noting that I went with soilless soil which doesn’t retain moisture and compact like regular soil does. It’s light and fluffy, and will allow moisture to travel through it without bogging down over time.

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I grabbed my hose and used the fill tube to fill up the reseviors, you know they are full when water starts coming out the drain tube. 

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I can’t wait to see how this SIP works! I’ve only heard great things about it from other gardeners. If you’ve used one before, please leave your experience down below for other viewers to read about.

Also let me know what you think about the planter bed! I’m really happy with the way that it turned out and if you’d like to tackle your own then click here for a set of raised garden bed with drawers DIY plans to build your own!

garden bed
garden bed 2

That’s it for this one. I’ll see you on whatever I’m building next!

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3 Responses

  1. Please add two things to this great article:
    1. a photo (or drawing) of the drainage tubes as they are completely laid out. Is it one long tube in the shape of an “S” or 3 separate tubes?
    2. A photo of the finished planter bed showing the side with the drawers.

    Thank you!

  2. Hello April and four paws, great ideas and helpful. I’m planning a pool equipment pad surround. Hope it’s okay? To use products seen in the video(s). Thanks, Norm (Didn’t know Glue has properties.)

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