Raised Planter With Compost

Raised Vegetable Garden With Compost Bins

Since the demise of our city chickens I haven’t given much thought to my stint of urban farming. That is until it hit me one day that I wanted another Raised Vegetable Garden. I had a vertical veggie garden built into the sides of our chicken run, but it was a poor set up. With the removal of our deck I had freed up some space but caused a safety hazard in our backyard. I decided to take that set back and turn it into a veggie producing Raised Planter!

*This project has been sponsored by our friends at Kreg Tool and their plan site Build Something! Looking for hundreds of free build plans for your next project? Give Build Something a look!

Raised Planter Opportunity

With the deck ripped out, that meant the handrails surrounding the concrete steps that lead down to our basement were also gone. With a kids running (and crawling) around our backyard, I couldn’t just leave a drop off into the abyss. So I thought it would be great if we could add a raised planter right next to the house… Maybe even two flanking either side of the put of despair? But why make these easy?

Keyhole Garden Hybrid

A few years ago I read an article about a gardening method called the “keyhole garden”. The basic premise is you create a doughnut shaped raised garden with a section cut out for access and a compost bin in the doughnut hole. As your compost breaks down it seeps into your garden and fuels with with even more nutrients. It’s lazy gardening! So I like it. So I thought to myself, I built this tiered planter a while back, how about I figure out how to incorporate the key hole idea? So I did.

Raised Vegetable Planter Diagram

Materials Needed

Tools Needed

Vegetable Planter Cut List

  • (4) Lateral Frame Posts – 2x4x96
  • (16) Frame Cross Braces – 2x4x19.50″
  • (8) Vertical Spacers – 2x4x7″
  • (1) Support Post – 4x4x60″
  • (2) Hanging Basket Supports – 1x6x70″
  • (41) Cedar Siding Pickets – 14.25″
  • (2) Center Post Spacers – 4x4x2.50″
  • (2) Hanging Basket Support Spacers – 4x4x5.50″
  • (4) Cedar Bottom Support – 44″
  • (12) Cedar Bed Spacers – 12″

Step 1 – Cut Lateral Frame Supports

Step 1

Trim down any excess on four of the straightest 2×4’s to 96″ for the lateral frame supports.

Step 2 – Cut Cross Braces

Step 2 - Cross Braces

Cut 16 2×4’s to 19.50″. Then pre-drill a pair of 1-1/2″ pocket holes into both ends of each board using your Kreg Jig. On two of those cross braces, add a pair of inward facing 1-1/2″ pocket holes on center that will be used to support the center post.

Step 3 – Cut Vertical Spacers

Step 3 - Vertical Spacers

Cut eight 2×4’s to 7″ for the vertical spacers that will separate the top and bottom frames. Using your Kreg Jig, Pre-drill a pair of 1-1/2″ pocket holes into each end.

Step 4 – Assemble Frame

Step 4 - Assemble Frame

Using the pre-drilled 1-1/2″ pocket holes, assemble two rectangular frames with the 96″ lateral supports and the 19.50″ cross braces using 2-1/2″ Blue Kote Screws. Make sure to point your pocket holes outward for easier attachment.

Step 5 – Assemble Inner Frame

Step 5 - Inner Frame

Using the 12 pre-drilled 19.50″ cross braces, assemble the inner frame using 2-1/2″ Blue Kote Screws. The bottom frame (pictured closest) will be assembled upside down the with cross braces mounted horizontal and flush with the frame bottom. The top frame will have the cross braces mounted on their sides. Take note of the spacing: outside boxes 15″, middle boxes 15.75″. Spacing between cross braces on bottom frame 3.50″. Spacing between cross braces on top frame 7-1/2″. Notice the inward facing pocket holes on the blue cross braces will be facing upward to attach the post.

Step 6 Connect Frames

Step 6 - Connect Frames

Flipping the bottom frame back over so the cross braces are flush with the ground, attach the top frame to the bottom frame using the 7″ pre-drill vertical spacers. Make sure the pocket holes are outward facing when you attach with 2-1/2″ Blue Kote screws for easier assembly.

Step 7 – Add Legs

Step 7 - Add Legs

Prep the 24″x2″ angle iron by sanding away the oxidation and sealing with metal specific spray paint. You can get your angle iron pre- cut or cut your own like I did with the Diablo Steel Demon Blade with a Circular Saw. Pre-drill pilot holes with a metal safe drill bit and then attach to the frame using the 2″ lag screws.

Step 8 – Add Cedar Siding

Step 8 Cedar Siding

Cut 41 pieces of cedar fence plank to 14.25″. Pre-drill a pilot hole (because they’ll split) and attach to frame using 1-1/2″ decking screws. I used 17 planks per each long side and left about 1/4″ overhang on the top. On the short sides I did have to trim down a smaller piece to fill a short gap.

Step 9 – Add Center Post

Step 9 - Add Center Post

Cut the pressure treated 4×4 to 60″ and then center and attach using the pre-drill pocket holes and 2-1/2″ screws on the center cross braces.

Step 10 – Add Post Spacers

Step 10 - Post Spacer

Cut two 2″ blocks off the scrap leftover from the 4×4 and use it as a spacer between the top cross braces and the center post. Use a level to make sure the post is straight. Toenail the block to the post with 2-1/2″ screws and then attach the space blocks to the cross braces.

Step 11 – Add Bottom Supports

Step 11 - Bottom-support

Cut four pieces of cedar fence picket to 44″ and attach to the bottom cross braces to add support to the liner. Pre-drill and use the 1-1/2″ decking screws to attach.

Step 12 – Add Liner

Step 12 - Garden Liner

Cut the reinforced garden liner into panels and attach the bottom frame of the planter. I folded my garden line into 2 ply and then attached with screws. You can also try staplers or roofing nails to attach it. Just make sure you have plenty of coverage.

Step 13 – Add Bin Dividers

Step 13 - Bin Dividers

Using the remaining scrap cedar fence pickets, cut 12 pieces to 12″ long and then attach on the outside of each bin divider. Be sure to pre-drill and use the 1-1/2″ decking screws. I left the center open and will be closing those holes with cardboard that will act as a divider for the compost bins and degrade.

Step 14 – Attach Hanging Basket Support

Step 14 - Hanging Basket Support

Cut both pressure treated pieces of 1×6 to 70″. Stack them and then pre-drill the 7/8″ holes for the dowel rod to hold the hanging planters. Then cut two blocks of your scrap 4×4 to 5-1/2″ and attach to the ends of one of the 1×6’s using decking screws. Then center your 1×6 on the 4×4 beam and attach using the 2″ lag screws. Be sure to pre-drill to avoid splitting.

Step 15 – Attach Final Hanging Basket Support


Attach the final portion of the hanging basket support with decking nails and lag screws. Then drive the 7/8″ dowel road through the holes. Cut off any extra with a hand saw. If the dowels aren’t going in easily, widen the hole on only one side.

Compost Bins


For the compost bins I just used cut up pieces of cardboard as a divider. I then added a layer of gravel, then sticks and leaves and then leftover compost dirt from my old bin.


I’ll continue to add and stir this compost and let it add nutrients to the planters on either side. Be sure to take note of what items you can and cannot add to compost bins to ensure best results!


As for the plants, I planting a mixture of lettuces, kale, carrots, squash, peppers and zucchini. At around 14″ these planters are deep enough to really let these veggies thrive. I did mix in mint in the middle of several bins as a squirrel deterrent. We’ll see if it works. In the hanging baskets I added mosquito plant to drive away our blood sucking friends, but I’d also like to see tomatoes or strawberries up there!

There’s a Matching Bench!

Outdoor Bench With Planters

Head to the Build Plans for the Outdoor Bench with Planter Boxes Tutorial!

Let me know what you think or having any questions. As always, don’t forget to “Pin This” to Pinterest!


*This post and build have been sponsored by Kreg Tool and Build Something.

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4 years ago

This project is so cool! These plans are brilliant, and are giving me so much inspiration. Which kind of lumber would you suggest I use on a build like this? Thanks for sharing!

Anne L
Anne L
4 years ago

Many thanks for this project plan – very doable and I appreciate all the detail in the post. I have two questions: (1) Are the cedar fence pickets 4″ in width or 6″? (2) Do you have a thought (or two) for an alternative to the angle iron? I’m not sure I can find someone to cut those custom lengths during our city-mandated stay-at-home-social-distancing-lockdown and I’m wondering if there is something I can use as an alternative. Again, thanks for this great design!

Anne L
Anne L
Reply to  lazyguydiy
4 years ago

Awesome – thank you so much!

3 years ago

Is their any chance you could do the plans printer friendly i cant print them with all the adds they pop up in the wrong places or you could add it to your sell page i don’t mind paying for it.

Pamela Beckett
Pamela Beckett
Reply to  Betty
2 years ago

Yes I am in

Pamela Beckett
Pamela Beckett
Reply to  Betty
2 years ago

Yes I would also like a printer friendly version. I had also purchased plan from you recently.

Danielle Martinez
Danielle Martinez
2 years ago

This is awesome! Can’t wait to do this project with my family. Great activity we can all enjoy and benefit from. Thank you so much!

2 years ago

how do i get plans ?

11 months ago

Hi! Wondering if you could adjust the height of this? We would like something closer to hip height. Could we just make legs higher and add support beams in the middle? Thank you!

Danielle Brence
Danielle Brence
2 months ago

I kill everything but am going to give it a try. Can you tell me a little about the compost aspect or a good resource on this. I love the idea but don’t know what to put in it, so as not to damage the soil.
Thank you

2 months ago

So with this design you could technically recycle the water and use it on other plants right?

1 month ago

Hi, I’m building very similar boxes loosely based on these plans. Do you have any concerns about this span being too long for 2x4s to hold up? It looks like if you fill this you’d have over 1800 lbs of dirt, which is a lot to put on 2x4s.

I’m putting an additional 4×4 post at the center on each side for extra strength but I’m wondering how your box has held up with just the one blocked in?


Would love your thoughts, please comment.x