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Vertical Garden Box ... completed

Hi Folks,

I've finished the Vertical Garden Box! Quite and adventure!

It was my first wood working/gardening project and it was a test of endurance, adaptation and determination; took 3-4 weeks. The ultimate goal was to become familiar with wood so I can build an “in-between-the-studs” DVD library in a long hallway. I certainly got an education; and learned some of the differences between an engineer and a carpenter :)

I would like to share the problems and solutions in case some of you want to attempt this VGB or are already involved and having problems.



(Aside) … If anyone wants to know how to make that “pole” hummingbird feeder, let me know. It doesn't drip, won't sway because of wind or larger birds; it's inexpensive, easy and convenient to clean and change/add food. All the material is available at Home Depot.


Problem 1: LUMBER

For those of you who don't know; lumber is not cut to the sizes specified. For instance; a 1x4 is not really 1x4; more like ¾ x 3 ½ . Therefore, any pre-construction math calculations will not be accurate in real life. The variance is not consistent and varies depending on the specified size and whether it is softwood or hardwood. There are websites on YouTube that will give you the actual “cut size” of specific dimensions of cut lumber. This anomaly also appears to be true for some wood screws.


None of the stores in my area that sell lumber have “pressure-treated wood” in these sizes. You must plan to seal it after construction. The planned dimensions of the box are such that not all pieces can be contained in whole “cut” lengths (6' or 8' or 10'). You always had to buy an extra piece to get the right amount. (This might have been done on purpose.)


I cannot transport any lumber longer that 6 feet so I had everything cut at Home Depot. Only “milled ends” were right angle cuts. Everything else was 1/16” to 1/8” off and either a parallelogram or a trapezoid. Lattice work is only sold in 4x8 pieces (which I can't transport) and stores will not cut them down because of imbedded staples.


Problem 2: “Weed Block” is only sold in large rolls. Since I don't have a yard, that leaves 725 square feet of waste. Similar problem with plastic sheeting. I'm trying “shading” material sold by the yard.


Problem 3: I live in an HOA managed development so hanging something on an outside wall is a major “authorization” nightmare. So forget the French Cleat idea.


Problem 4: The box (without dirt) weighs about 25 pounds. With dirt/water/plants between 75 to 100 pounds. Being 70 years old, lifting that much is out of the question.


Problem 5: The 3/4” PVC that Home Depot sells in 2' lengths has an outside diameter of 1 1/16” and won't fit into a 1” hole.




Cut your own lumber!

I spent hours with a plane, file and sandpaper to remedy the errors in the original cuts. This changes dimensions. Once you start this, all other dimensions change just a little bit. However, by the time I put on the molding (instead of a 1x4 frame) it was square.


I have since bought a Compound Miter Saw and built a DVD cabinet with the scrap lumber from this project. Took 1 Day!


Don't cut all the lumber ahead of time (until you get good at it); do it as you go.

Don't forget to include the saw blade width in your measurements.

Note: I found no brand of putty/glue/filler that truly accepts stain like the wood surrounding it.


The lattice work you see is hand made from precut redwood 1x2 {really 5/8x1 7/8}(for the frame) and 1/4” x 6' redwood lathing strips using a small miter box for all the 45 degree cuts. They are cut to fit the 3/4” wide frame created by the original 1x6,s and spaced 3 1/4” just like regular lattice. Next time I'll make them 4” so it's easier to put in the plants.


This created a problem with the cross member inside the box. The lattice work raised the frame 1/2”. So there is a 1/2” x 3/4” extra piece attached to the underside of the redwood frame.


The little redwood “squares” are knobs containing the bolts/nuts of the four hanger bolts that are imbedded in the original 1x6's specified in the plan. This makes the lattice work removable without reusing threaded screw holes (that will wear out).


PVC plumbing was inserted as directed but a circular saw bit was needed to enlarge the size of the (already drilled) upper holes from 1” to 1 1/4”. Then a reducing valve was placed at the top to hold the pipe in. The oversized valve turns out to be perfect for holding a .5liter plastic bottle neck for watering.


I don't think the watering system is the best it could be. Not all of the plants receive enough water, especially on the opposite side from the pipe, and excess water drips out the front of the box. When I change the dirt (or maybe sooner) I'm going to put “T” joints in the bottom and top sections and run the pipes horizontally across the top of each section. Since water will go down; all plants should get enough.


Fitting the plastic sheeting into the box was really difficult. Like wrapping the “inside” of a Christmas Present. What to do with all the extra material at the inside corners? When it comes time to change the dirt I'll investigate rubberizing spray products or pre-made hard plastic liners. I drilled drain holes but I don't see why they're necessary since the lining is suppose to contain the water.


The molding around the outside really looks good but is incapable of sustaining the weight when trying to lift the box; they're only “tacked on” with small brads. So I made 4 oak handles that mount on the sides of the box when needed (for hanging/moving) and are removable and stored, using adjustable tool clips, in the underside (3 1/2”) space behind the molding. The small blocks at the bottom are for support when the box is vertical and standing on the floor.


Mounting this box without damaging walls was also a challenge. The box is mounted using double-link chain passed through a vent. The chain is anchored with lag bolts into a 2x4. The 2 pieces of PVC are there to keep the chain from damaging the vent. Designed to hold 100 pounds!


If you can utilize a French Cleat check out “”. They have some made of aluminum that are excellent and inexpensive; I used a small one to hang the DVD cabinet. They also sell them at Home Depot. No store would cut a 12” long French Cleat made out of wood.

 vent external.jpginside.mounts.jpg


So there you have it!


This project was exciting (sometimes frustrating) to do and I can't hardly wait for the next one.

Passersby, who all saw me building it on my patio, have only good things to say and think it's really beautiful.


I would like to publicly thank all the folks at Home Depot that gave me support, solutions and a great deal of assistance in solving the many problems I faced.


:) :)Except maybe the guy who cut the wood. :) :)


Eugene Varcados



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Posted 2012-08-31T03:06:40+0000  by Eugene Eugene

Good job Eugene!


Your box looks great!  I really like the moulding and stain color you picked... Really nice...Congrats!



Posted 2012-09-04T14:12:24+0000  by George_HD_CHI

Hello Eugene,


That has to be the best Vertical Garden Box I've seen.


I love all of the detail that you added. The grapevine is beautiful.


I'm glad to hear that you are getting into woodworking. It looks like you learned a lot on your first project. 


Your post is exactly what we need here on the community. When people share the mishaps that they run into with others everyone can learn form it.


As a person that has been doing woodworking for over 25 years I don't think about all of the basic things like the lumber being smaller (Actual size) than the call out size (Nominal size). I automatically take that into consideration without even thinking about it.    


Thanks again for shairing your beautiful VGB.


I can't wait to see your  DVD cabinet. Please post some pictures.



Thanks again for joining the community. I look forward to seeing your next project.

Posted 2012-09-12T21:28:07+0000  by Christine_HD_OC

That project turned out absolutely beautiful. Great job. I really like the stain and the trim. Makes doing things worthwhile. Post some more of your projects as you start and finish them.

Posted 2012-11-08T21:50:02+0000  by Ken_HD_OC
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