Raised beds are a great way to grow plants, vegetables, and herbs, especially when the soil is too rocky or tough to plant them in the ground. When a local Girl Scout troop reached out to the team at Ask This Old House about their old raised beds, the team couldn’t wait to get to work designing solutions. General contractor Tom Silva’s design appears to be quite a challenge on its own: a double-hexagon raised bed.
But it doesn’t have to be that complicated, and Tom shows host Kevin O’Connor just how simple it is. This guide will explain the process.
Note: The following instructions will build a hexagonal planter roughly 40 ½ inches in diameter, from point to point.
How To Build an Herb Planter
- A regular hexagon has 6 equal sides, meaning it also has 6 equal inside angles (60 degrees). For a miter saw to cut 60 degrees, the bevel must be set to 30 degrees. Set the saw to 30 degrees before moving forward.
- Next, cut a 60-degree bevel on the end of a board. Flip the board over, hook the end of the tape measure on the long edge of the bevel, and mark the board at 20 ⅛ inches. Cut the board at this mark. This should result in a longer face of the board (20 ⅛ inches) and a shorter face. Repeat this 5 more times.
- On a flat work surface, stand the 6 pieces on their edges, forming a hexagon with lap joints. At each joint, drill through the face of the outside board and into the end of the lapped board. Drive screws through the joint to fasten the joints. Repeat at each joint.
- Cut the end of one of the boards at the same angle (60 degrees, with the saw set at 30 degrees). Flip the board over, hook the tape measure over the long edge, and mark the board at 18 ⅜ inches. Cut the board at this mark, again resulting in a long face and a short face. Repeat this 5 more times.
- Place the cut boards inside the large hexagon and assemble them into a hexagon, with one end of each board butted up to the mid-way point of each of the original hexagon’s size. This creates a vortex-like look with a smaller hexagon in the middle. Pre-drill through the outside of the original hexagon and into the ends of the interior boards, using screws to secure them. Repeat the process at each joint—anywhere the boards butt up to each other.
As part of a special episode, the cast partnered with a local Girl Scout troop to rebuild garden beds at their local library. To help, Tom and Kevin build a hexagon-shaped, divided herb planter out of cedar boards.
All supplies used for this project can be found at most home centers.