Cedar Garden Beds & Trellises

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Project by january posted 01-14-2014 04:55 PM 3247 views 8 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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"

10 comments so far

View CudaDude's profile


179 posts in 3275 days

#1 posted 01-14-2014 06:23 PM

Well… Nobody messes with the “crazy” neighbor.

Seriously though, this is nice. Been wanting to something similar in our backyard. What did you use for the netting on the trellises?

-- Gary

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3642 days

#2 posted 01-14-2014 07:33 PM

what?.... are you trying to drive us gardeners crazy?
posting a garden picture in the dead of winter….now that’s just cruel.

expecting 2 inches of new snow in Chicago. So ready for spring.

nice trellis and a very cool garden. post a picture of it full next harvest!

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3394 days

#3 posted 01-14-2014 07:36 PM

Nice job! We gardeners enjoy good food that money simply can’t buy.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3394 days

#4 posted 01-14-2014 07:37 PM

Nice job! We gardeners enjoy good food that money simply can’t buy.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View january's profile


23 posts in 2561 days

#5 posted 01-14-2014 10:35 PM

Thanks for the kind comments, all.

@reedwood – I know, I felt cruel even looking at these photos. Wood keeps me busy in the winter when the garden doesn’t. Unfortunately a lot of my workshop projects are garden-related so there seems to be no escape!

@CudaDude – This isn’t the exact product, but it was something along these lines:
If I recall, there were two nets in the package, each say, 8’x5’ and I strung up two of them next to each other, tying them to each other and also to some small eye bolts I put on the side of the trellis posts. I take those down every season, too. Amazingly I’ve been able to reuse them for two seasons now. The nylon is really tough.

@exelectricia – Amen brother!

-- Heh heh, you said "wood"

View Randy_ATX's profile


881 posts in 3408 days

#6 posted 01-15-2014 02:53 AM

From a guy who loves gardening almost as much as woodworking – nice job and thanks for the tease. Welcome to lumberjocks.

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View january's profile


23 posts in 2561 days

#7 posted 01-15-2014 05:40 AM

LOL! Sorry for all the greenery, guys. I promise my next project will be a little more dreary. Thanks for the warm welcome. I’ve been lurking for a couple months. Glad I’m here now!

-- Heh heh, you said "wood"

View jroot's profile


295 posts in 2189 days

#8 posted 01-15-2014 03:19 PM

I like it. Wish I had more level land in which to place something similar.

-- jroot

View january's profile


23 posts in 2561 days

#9 posted 01-16-2014 05:43 AM

Jroot, you could just build higher sides and dig them in like I did. If you look close the right hand sides of the beds nearly have their whole 6” height buried to allow for the slope, so I could keep the beds level. If your slope is steeper, just build 8-12” high beds. Heck, I’ve seen 3 foot high garden beds! I’m just too cheap to buy all that wood and soil.

-- Heh heh, you said "wood"

View mervillehomesteader's profile


31 posts in 2563 days

#10 posted 01-16-2014 06:14 AM

I really like the trellis. Nice and simple but tough at the same time. The corners make the beds. Very nice.

-- Perfectly Imperfect. Thats my style!

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