Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Welcome Wenesday: Thrifty 101

We are so excited to have Michelle here today guest posting! You will love it! Also check out her glitter toe post too, I have totally tried these and it works like a charm! I am also thinking the Castle Room looks AMAZING!

 Hi Everyone!  I'm Michelle from Thrifty 101. 
 I'm so happy to be posting on Moms of all Trades today! (Thanks Kori and Tara!)

I'm a wife and mom of 3 boys and I LOVE HOME DEPOT!!   I LOVE DIY projects and will tackle any project I can to save money.  I started Thrifty 101 last year to share ways that we can all save money.  I cover ideas on DIY projects, planning vacations on a budget, Internet deals, everyday living and money saving tips.  I have had so much fun watching my blog grow over the past 9 months and meeting amazing blog friends.

I'm so excited  to share with you my most popular post; DIY Garden Box tutorial. 

Last year I decided to try my hand at gardening.  I was just hoping to get enough produce to grow to justify the money I was investing.  My soil here is sand and rock.  So I had to use planter boxes.  I did some research and found that the cute vinyl garden boxes are EXPENSIVE!!!  Lots of companies and home improvement stores have "kits" that you can use to build your own boxes, but they can be pricey too.  Ultimately it's just a wooden box right?  That's what I figured, so I started on my garden box adventure.....

Wood planks to make a 12" deep box.  So either 2 layers of 6" or 1 12" wide piece.   (I used 12X2 pieces that were 12 feet long)
Galvanized screws so they do not rust
Weed paper
Level (a right angle would also be helpful, but it's not necessary)
Latex paint or some kind of sealant for the wood.
Staple gun
Scissors or utility knife
Top soil

First cut your wood into the dimensions you want.  One 12X2 12 foot long piece of wood will make a 3'X4' box or a 2'X6' box.  The helpful people at Home Depot or Lowes will cut the wood for you for FREE to take home so you don't have a 12' piece of wood sticking out of your car. :)
Paint your wood to seal it from water and rot.  I used a white Latex outdoor paint because I wanted it to match my white vinyl fence.  It's important to use Latex as opposed to Oil Based because you will be eating the items out of your garden and you don't want them tainted with oil from the paint or stain.

After the paint was dry I then put the boxes together in my garage and carried them to the backyard.  I didn't get many pics of this part (sorry) but all you do is align your boards at right angels and screw them together.  If you are super picky this is where your right angle would come in.  For me a box is a box and as long as all the sides are at right angels it was good enough for me.  I used 3 screws across each edge and I pre-drilled the holes so the wood would not split.  (The 3rd screw is buried in the photo) Here is a close up of a joint:
Another option is to use a right angle joint.  I used this to extend my strawberry planter that was already in the ground  Here is what they look like, just screw them in and you're done.
The next step was my Birthday present from my husband.  :)  The area I wanted the boxes was not level.  There was a generous slope to our yard in that spot, which is why I chose that spot.  Lots of sun and we didn't use it at all.  But of course I wanted the boxes my hubby cut out the sod (I'm talking with an axe and shovel), dug the area level and helped me adjust the placement of the planter boxes with a level.  We would eye it level, insert the box and realize it wasn't level. Then we would take the box out and make the adjustments and try it again.... and again....and again...  One of the planters has a corner that sticks above the ground about 2 inches due to the slope.  That means we buried that one corner 10" into the ground to make it level. This was a VERY tedious process and I think it was quite possibly the BEST Birthday present I've received. :)  If you choose a flat area this process will be dramatically easier for you then it was for us.

*Note: It is not necessary to take out the grass if you use weed paper.  BUT from what I've read and from what friends tell me...."grass finds a way" into your planter and it over runs it.  Why waste all the time and effort building a box and keeping weeds at bay if you are going to plant it on top of grass that will eventually work its way up?  My opinion is you should remove the grass from under the box.

So after the box is level and set, the inside looks something link this.  Framed in crappy dirt. ;) (minus the annoying Butterfly bush in the way)  I used part of an existing planter for one side, and a retaining wall as the other side of my box for this planter. (I actually cut the sod, dug and leveled this one all on my own.) :)
To keep weeds out of your planter, you need to apply weed paper:
I used a staple gun to attach it to the inside of my box.  I put down 2 layers.
Then fill with top soil.

And here are my raspberry bushes.  I built a trellis for these and up them up since the photo.
 And here are 3 of the 4 planters I built and my two little apple trees on the left and right.  The middle bush is a rogue Butterfly bush that I don't have the heart to cut down.  If it starts making my strawberries not grow, that sucker is GONE! LOL
You can see the slope on the front right box and the box on the left on the right side.
I planted a "Salsa Garden" with tomatoes, onions, garlic, green peppers.  I also planted basil (we loved having that on hand for cooking) carrots, pumpkins and cucumbers (which didn't work) and my strawberries and raspberries in separate planters.

It was a lot of fun gardening this past year.  I learned a lot and I'm excited to plant again this year.  I've already got garlic that has sprouted and now that my strawberries and raspberries have established roots they should produce a ton of fruit this year.  Bring on Spring!

Other popular DIY tutorials you can find on Thrifty 101 are




  1. Thanks again for letting me guest blog! I linked back to your page and added your button. You ladies rock! :)

  2. Great blog!
    I'm a new follower from the hop!
    Come check me out when you get the chance:
    Carolina Summer

  3. Great post--thank you for sharing! We put in garden boxes a few years ago, and I always love seeing what others chose to do!


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