Apr 08, 2015

How to: Make a Modern, Space-Saving Vertical Vegetable Garden

created at: 04/08/2015

This modern, modular garden project works well in any space. Because it uses wood containers, you don't have to worry about the quality of your existing soil, and they can sit on any surface: grass, concrete, gravel or even a wooden deck. The garden's vertical orientation lets you grow a whole bunch of veggies, herbs, and flowers in a tiny footprint.The boxes are customizable to fit your space - all you need is solid wall or fence to attach the structure to, and you can put this guy anywhere.

Oh! And get this

If you want to learn to make your own, you can sign for this free DIY Workshop at your local Home Depot. It's available at Home Depot locations all across the U.S., and it doesn't cost a cent to learn. 

The Vertical Gardening Workshop takes place this Saturday, April 11, 2015 from 10:00 - 11:30AM. You can find more details and register at the Home Depot Workshops page. I, Chris Gardner from ManMade, will be teaching the workshop at the Beaverton Home Depot (Store #4018 4401 SW 110th Ave). If you're in the area, this is an awesome opportunity for me to meet  and collaborate with ManMade readers, and I've love to hang out with you and use some power tools for a day.



Tools and Materials: 

  • Miter or circular saw
  • Cordless drill and 1⁄8 inch drill bit
  • Staple gun and 1/2 electric cord staples
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses and dust mask
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Tin snips or cutting pliers
  • 3x  8' long cedar  1x8s
  • 4x 8' long cedar 1x3s
  • 16x 8' long cedar 1x2s
  • 1 roll of wire hardware cloth, 1/2" gap
  • 1 roll weed blocker fabric


created at: 04/08/2015

Building the Boxes:

I built my project out of "one-by" cedar material. Since my garden was going to be outside, I knew it would have lots of contact with water and direct sunlight, so I selected cedar for its natural decay-resistant properties. I would never use pressure-treated lumber for this, as it contains chemicals that will leach into the soil where my edibles are growing.

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The main boxes measure 10" high by 23" long and 7 1/4" wide. The sides are made from cedar 1x8s, cut to 10". Two cedar 1x3s make up the base, 21 1/2" in length, to give the bottom strength. Note that this is not a solid bottom, so that the soil can have proper drainage. The 1x3s are spaced evenly across the bottom. 


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The slats on the sides are made from cedar 1x2 material, cut to 23". This size allows you to use an 8' 1x2 to cut 4 slats for the front, while allowing for waste from the saw kerf. Be sure sure to place them flush with the top and bottom of the box, hiding the 1x3" base when viewed from the front. Just space them evenly by eye, about 1 to 1 1/2" apart. Attach them with 1 1/2" long #8 decking screws. Because you're screwing so close to the edge of the wood, you'll definitely want to drill pilot holes to prevent splitting the wood. 


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To give the covered boxes a little more space, the center boxes are 12 3/4" tall, and use five slats to make up the front and back.


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Once your boxes are assembled, cut 1/2" mesh hardware cloth using snips or cutting pliers, and staple it to the 1x3" base to make up the bottom of the boxes.


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Then, line the sides and the bottom with weed barrier cloth. This is, admittedly, the hardest part, as the cloth is stretchy and can be a bit unwieldy. Start by cutting the weed barrier to length, leaving an extra inch or so on each side. Then, to figure out the length, wrap it around the outside of the two sides and the bottom, like you would when wrapping a gift. Cut to size, then staple to the top slat of one side, and work your way down the bottom, across, and up the other side, using lots of staples to keep things taut. 

Assembling the Structure:

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Begin by placing two of the shorter boxes on the ground, and add a taller box to span the gap. Once you're happy with their placement, screw them to the backing material (the fence, wall, or what have you).


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The boxes are supported with a simple L-shaped riser. It's cut to the same height as the taller boxes - 12 3/4" - and is a piece of 1x8" with a 1x2" screwed perpendicularly to the back. This gives is a face to screw into the wall. Line it up carefully with the bottom box, and attach.


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Continue to build your structure until all the boxes and risers are attached and secure. Then, fill them with potting soil, and add your plants.

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Remember, if you want to learn to build your own, head to the Home Depot DIY Workshops page to sign up. If you're in Portland, I'll see you on Saturday!




created at: 03/31/2015
Thanks to Home Depot for sponsoring this post and making ManMade a partner for the 2015 DIY Workshop series. Thank you for supporting the brands that make ManMade possible.



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Jon on Mar 25, 2020:

Made this the other day and am quite happy with it, just a few recommendations:
1) directions and supply list were very good.
2) if I had to make it again, I would buy some kind of plastic liner to use as the box instead of fabric. As directions say, fabric is tricky. Then I would build boxes to fit them
3) I suggest taking a few prices of excess material and making feet to keep wood off the ground
4) I made them with full height sides instead of as boxes. Easy to do and once full of soil it doesn’t require screwing to the wall
5) I used 2-6” wide planks for the sides. 12” wide planks were way more expensive
6) make sure you have lots of staples
7) I wish there was a better way to hide the screw heads and keep the slats clean. Perhaps screw them in from the side instead of the front?
8) pre drill is necessary

Great project. Happy with results

Jennifer on Mar 06, 2019:

Is the supply list supplies for the whole project or one box?

Matthew Brandt on Feb 23, 2017:

Hi Chris, this vertical garden is a great idea! I have a question about the wooden containers, what is the minimum width you would recommend when building the wooden boxes, to avoid the whole thing tipping over? We are tight on space so every inch helps! Thank you so much for sharing your awesome post!

Suni on Jan 15, 2017:

I am late for this, but love the garden boxes, I have a tiny space and this is perfect for what I need. Thanks.

BIRSAN LUCIAN on Jan 13, 2017:


Noelle on Jul 19, 2016:

Yes, what is the cost for this project?

Mark on Jul 13, 2016:

Hi, are your dimesions in Inches? We use inches in the UK to deter the wood width and hieght i.e 4"x 2" for stud wall etc.


Sarah on May 08, 2016:


I LOVE this vertical garden. Unfortunately, the closest Home Depot is 4 hours drive and does not do workshops.

Can I have access to the details to DIY mine please?

Thanks a lot!

Chris on Mar 10, 2016:

Hi Anna - Here in the US, 1x8s and 1x3s are standard dimensional lumber, sold at home centers and lumberyards for building houses, decks, and the like. This system is standardized for ease - walls are frames with 2x4s, floor joists are 2x6 or 2x8, etc.

Anonymous on Mar 10, 2016:

Hey , I would like to try making this one , but could someone tell me the size of all boards in cm , and tell me what 1x8s or 1x3s are exactly ? 


Thank you :)

Chris on Mar 04, 2016:

Hey Max - Sure. Just water it starting from the top and work your way down. It's got plenty of drainage, so you should get a nice trickle down effect (literally). 


Max on Mar 01, 2016:

How would I irrigate this? Do you just water it normally? Do I need to have a catchall box at the bottom? Sorry, novice gardener here! 


Max Beaumont



Alex on Jan 13, 2016:

I just made this a couple weeks ago after I saw it on Pinterest. I made a few changes but it turned out great!!

Alex Garden on Jun 14, 2015:

Thank you man. This is great tips and tutorial. Hope I can do this :)

Kay on Jun 02, 2015:

Guess I am dense ... I understand about putting in a spacer to keep the crate off the supporting wall, yet give you something to attach the crate to. But the "L" shape eludes me. It's hard to describe in words what exactly I'm asking, I guess ... does the edge of crate kind of sit inside the angle of the "L"?


Regardless, thanks to both of you for replying, and so quickly. After I posted, I found the HD site's version ... I don't quite get their "support" or stablizing pieces screwed in along the frame either! For what purpose are the multiple squares of wood? I don't see any -- the blocks just float in space, at least on the front side.


Whichever version -- it's a cool look and practical way to garden vertically, even if you've got a lot of space. Thanks, guys!

Gregg on Jun 01, 2015:



the correct word is slats! I should do a better job at proof reading. There is no SLATE needed for this project. There needs to be 2 cedar 1x2x8 for the small boxes and 3 for the bigger boxes. I used 16, 1x2x8 to make the slats for the boxes. Everything else was dead on. I mounted the boxes different then what is shown so I can't help with that. Sorry, Gregg.




Kay on Jun 01, 2015:

I am very confused ... do all the comments following the project steps pertain to the plant box project??? What's the mention of slate about? How many pieces are actually needed? Please explain a bit about the "L" support -- can't figure that out from photos. Thanks.

Gregg on Jun 01, 2015:

Hay Chris,
you do need to up the amount of 1x2's for the slate. Everything else worked out perfect! I have pics but I can't add them. Thanks, Gregg.

Gregg on May 14, 2015:

I'm getting a material list together and couldn't help notice that the posted wood list is not correct. There should be double the amount of 1x3's. There are 8 in the list and according to my calculations there needs to be 16. 2, 8' 1x3 per short box and 3 for the 2 bigger boxes. Am I correct or am I an idiot? Gregg

Kenway on Apr 20, 2015:

Thanks for the great idea!!