Arbor Day: Tree Box Garden

redwood boxes

You never know when inspiration will strike. A few weeks back I was scouring the stone fruit section of our local nursery when my epiphany came— those redwood tree boxes would easily make wonderful veggie garden beds.

Usually, you can find them for around $20 at any nursery. You probably will have to ask for them, they aren’t obviously for sale with a big “for sale” sign. If you are lucky, you may just ask to take them off their hands. If only that same approach worked at Neiman Marcus.  Also, if you are buying trees for your yard, keep those wooden boxes to reuse. (It is Arbor Day today! Any kudos for the tie in?)

garden boxes

At my house, we have this space near our not-so-elegant-but-oh-so-coveted trampoline that was not being used at all. A series of these planters and a gravel path created an unexpected veggie oasis and gave a little structure and style to the space.

If you want to add a bit of color to your garden, you could paint these guys with a non-toxic paint. I’m a fan of the natural look of redwood. As it ages, it weathers to a beautiful Flemish gray that is lovely in the garden.

It may seem obvious, but sometimes I get overly excited to get right in and start planting, so this note is for me more than anyone else: Make sure you place the boxes in their final location before you start adding soil!  These suckers are heavy to move.

redwood box garden

To plant, fill the base of the wooden box with about 3-5 inches of gravel and then fill the rest with some organic potting soil. You want your plants to have as much soil as possible for your plants to flourish and the gravel works as drainage.

For my boxes, I used a mix of plants, with about five seedlings per box. After planting, I sprinkled a bit of cottonseed meal over the top to give them a good fertilizing and a great kick-start. For Arbor Day, don’t just plant a tree, plant a tree box!

tomatoes in box

I planted tomatoes near the edge, so they can trail over the side.


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13 thoughts on “Arbor Day: Tree Box Garden”

What a fantastic and inspired idea. They look fabulous on either side of the path with the intermittent agaves. Can’t wait for you to show us how they look once in full bloom. You clever girl!

Oh yes indeed. Very clever and practical garden idea. I like to do things easy and making some sort of garden beds did not appeal to me. I think my hubby would go for this. Thankyou for your lit’ tips and inspiring ideas!

Hi Valerie,

I live in Santa Barbara, but haven’t been able to find these boxes at the price you describe. Would you kindly tell me where you found the tree boxes for $15-$20?
Thanks so much!

Hi Angela,
I got mine at a nursery in Carp but I’m sure you could look at San Marcos growers or someplace out in Goleta. I’m curious as to where you looked.
Let me know,

Thanks for responding, Valerie. I tried Island View: $25; Seaside Gardens: $45 (although the owner said these were a bit fancier); Terra Sol: $39.99. I can try a few others tomorrow. Did you find yours at Eye of the Day, or somewhere else. I may use wine barrels, but they are even pricier.

Really enjoy all your good suggestions!


Hi Angela,
7 day nursery said they would offer a 10% discount on the boxes to anyone who comes into their shop and mentions the blog. They have 18″ boxes for $24.99. Hope that is helpful!!!

Thank you again, Valerie, for your helpful reply. I will keep looking a bit more for the 24″, and if I don’t find them, I’ll stop at 7-Day and mention your blog!

Hi Valerie,
About a year ago, I came across your blog and was very inspired. Recently, I saw an ad for these boxes for free! I immediately jumped on it! They don’t look as nice as the ones in your pictures but hey, they’re free! These used wood tree boxes have been disassembled, missing the metal strapping. I have not found anything similiar to these metal strappings. We are planning to nail the 2×2 inside the boxes to support but not sure if we need to tie it around with something.
By the way, Would you know if they’re all made with either cedar or redwood? I goggled companies that make these boxes and all have said their boxes are made with cedar or redwood. Thanks in advance!

Hi Lucy,
Thank you for the message! Lucky you to find the boxes for free. Not sure where to find the metal strap to affix them together — maybe someone at your local hardware store has a good idea or option. Our boxes were made of redwood and held up well and looked great as they aged in the garden. Good luck with everything and let me know how it goes!

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