If you are a DIYer that loves to garden, my DIY Garden Box is a fun project you will want to try. I attached old picture frames to a grow box for a completely unique project.
I have to admit, this was not my idea. I inherited this project from my sister who lost interest in the project. It sounded like a neat idea, so I took it over. There were some missteps along the way. But if you follow along with me, you can learn from my mistakes for a much smoother project.
Here is a list of the supplies that I used for this project:
- picture frames – I used a total of 32 8×10 frames
- glue – for wood (make sure it is waterproof) I initially tried Gorilla glue which did not work well for me.
- furring strips
- nails and screws
- stain – a color that will compliment the color of your frames
- heavy drop cloth – at least 4 mil thickness
- staple gun and staples
- saw – circular, jigsaw or a manual saw
- utility knife
- zip ties
- plastic trays – a few inches tall works best
- plastic cups
- seed starter medium
How to assemble the picture frames:
- The first step is to assess your frames. You want as many the same as possible. The same size and thickness works best. Most of mine were very similar.
- Learn from my mistake–take out all the staples and glass. If you used the glass, the project would be too heavy. I did not initially remove the staples until after I had glued the frames together. This put undue stress on the glue joints.
- If there are any picture hangers attached to your frames, remove them also, and save for later.
- Using a plastic drop cloth to work on, place 12 picture frames, face down, and start gluing together in two rows. I only had four clamps, so this process took a few days including dry time. All of my 12 frames were exactly the same size, so I decided that this would be the front of my garden box.
- Next, I worked on my side pieces. I took four frames that were exactly the same. And I followed the above step. I did the exact same thing for the other side.
- The next step was to form my top. At this point, I had some frames that were a little different shapes. That is when I started laying out my next 12 frames for the top. It was kind of like putting a puzzle together. The width was really more important than the length because I decided that the finished edge could be uneven. (see the later images for what I mean)
How to assemble the wooden frame:
NOTE: This part is really a two-person project. In addition, I am not comfortable using power tools. This is where I asked for help from my husband.
Once I had assembled my picture frames with a front, top and two sides, I knew roughly the size that would need to be constructed for a frame. I also knew that I wanted the front to be a little lower than the back to allow for rain runoff.
I used furring strips from the lumberyard because they are inexpensive, but you could use whatever you like as long as it is sturdy.
This is what I needed:
- 4 long pieces to run horizontal, the same size
- 2 bottom horizontal side pieces, the same size
- 2 vertical back side pieces, the same size
- 2 vertical front side pieces, the same size (a little shorter than the back)
- 2 almost horizontal side pieces that run from the back top vertical to the front top vertical (the front angles downward)
- To provide stability, we cut four equal pieces to fit along the bottom of the frame to hold the trays of cups.
Once my pieces were cut, it was time to lightly sand them and stain them. I just used a stain that I already had that was a pretty close color match to the picture frames. Once stained, I allowed them to dry overnight before proceeding to the assembly.
We just used nails to hammer the frame together. At this point, you can either hammer in the four pieces across the bottom to hold the trays, or glue them in later as I did. Later, we used screws to secure the frame better.
Add the plastic:
Measure how wide your project is. Trim a long piece of plastic this width. Turn the frame upside down, and staple the long edge to the bottom of the long horizontal bottom frame which is now facing up. Wrap the plastic all around the frame, flipping as you go, until you end with the other side of the bottom, which is now up. Make sure the plastic is tight before you staple to the bottom of the other side of the long horizontal bottom frame. When you turn the frame upright, you now have an open bottom but a covered front, top and back. Staple the plastic to the frame in several areas all around the frame.
Using the side pieces and a utility knife, cut plastic to cover the two end frame units and staple down in several areas.
Setting up my DIY Garden Box:
It is time to move the project outside where it will be placed. I suggest a location that gets sunlight most of the day such as south facing. I used four old bricks to place my project on. Before I laid the bricks down, I removed the grass in that area. You want the piece to be as level as possible. Once everything is level, this would be a good time to add a few screws to the frame to secure it.
Adding the side pieces:
Now, this is the time to add the frame hangers you initially saved in the beginning. I put one on the top and one on the bottom of each side to hold the side pieces. Keep in mind that you might have to hang the top one slightly crooked because the side posts angle down toward the front. You will also want to put two small nails in the top of your side pieces and one in the bottom of your side pieces to fit into the picture hangers. This requires some measuring and maybe some redoing in order to get them to fit correctly.
Now it is time to attach the picture frames. Using long zip ties, attach the frame unit to the front. It will be necessary to cut small slits in the plastic where the ties go. Do not tighten then down until everything is put together. Now add the top section of frames in the same manner. If you are happy with the way everything came together, tighten down the zip ties and snip them off.
The final step is to fill your plastic cups with seed starting medium, add your seeds and more soil, water and place the cups into plastic trays that are easy to slide in and out of the sides of your garden box. Attach the side pieces onto the picture hangers.
The three most important things to know about my DIY Garden Box:
- Even though your finished project will be fairly heavy, I would advise you to anchor the project well in case of high winds.
- Check your project after it rains, you may need to put a few small holes in the plastic on top to allow the rain water to escape.
- Check the cups daily for moisture. You want them moist–not soaked. In a few days, you should start to see germination.
It is important to note that this project cannot be done overnight. In addition, you will probably need a helper to put the frame together. However, I believe my DIY Garden Box will be a project that you can be proud of for years to come. For another great gardening/craft project of mine, see my post Create the Best Solar Garden Lights. The Microgardener has a great post titled Seed Starting Guide: Quick Tips for Starting Seeds Successfully. It contains some good information that may be useful.
If you like this project, please like and share it–Thanks!
If you made this project, let me know in the comments how it went–xoxo Renea