How to Build a Garden Box out of a Dresser

Recently, I have begun gardening and as a renter with limited land available I have had to find ways to use my space more creatively. One of the things I have done is to turn an old dresser taking up space in the garage into a planter.

Not only does this provide an additional area to grow edible foods for my family in a reasonably attractive manner but it recycles an item that would probably otherwise have gone to the dump or even used as firewood. In fact, once it finishes its second life as a garden box it can still be used for heat.

The process is not terribly difficult and can be accomplished in under an hour assuming you have the tools and a basic idea of what you want. For our dresser, we decided growing herbs and strawberries would be best for our needs.

What you will need

Dresser- 3 drawer or level

Safety goggles






Getting started

The first step is to find a suitable dresser for your needs. It should be relatively sturdy because once you have filled the various sections with soil and compost and put it in place it will be exposed to physical and environmental stresses it wasn't built for. It should also be no more then 3 drawers tall. The last and biggest concern is that you use a dresser that is made from real wood. Composite types may disintegrate when exposed to water like this will be.

The dresser we used had already been modified in the past to be used as an additional kitchen counter so we chose to keep the counter top and simply cut out holes according to the corresponding drawer sizes underneath. The idea is to use the drawers as the container or box to hold the soil/compost mixture and plants.

Since this is going to be an outdoor garden box exposed to the elements, there is no need to get too fancy or detailed in your measurements. Besides,if you are practicing lazy gardening like I am, why get all worked up over the details of building a simple planter?

Simply remove the top drawer(s) and place it on top of the dresser. Set it in place as close as possible to how it would sit if it was in the closed position and trace it with a pencil. When you have the outline drawn, make sure to look inside the dresser for and nails, staples or other support items and remove them before continuing. If your dresser is like mine, you have nothing to worry about and can proceed.

Take your drill and place it on the inside edge of the drawer outline. Make sure the drill bit you use is slightly larger then the size of the jig saw bit you will cut the top out with. Once you are ready, simply drill a hole through the top of the dresser. When placing the drill bit where you want it, make sure to err on the small side. In other words, the final hole should be the same size or smaller then the drawer that will sit under it. This will ensure any soil and plants you put into the finished garden box do not fall into the inner dresser and remain where you need them instead.

Once your starter hole is drilled, you are ready to cut out the top of the dresser. Take the jig saw and follow the outline of the drawer again taking care to err on the small side. Do not worry about straight lines or any mistakes. This is a garden box to be filled with dirt, not an entertainment center you will be decorating your living room around.

When you have removed the top piece, set it to the side for later and relish in the fact that the hardest part is done

The next step will be to decide the placement of the next 2 drawers. Pull the drawer second from the top out about 6 inches. Once in place, mark where the front of the dresser meets the drawer on either side. This will show you where to place the new back of the drawer which we will get to in a few. Do the same thing with the bottom drawer, pulling it out 6 inches past the front of the second drawer being careful not to pull it out too far. It should now resemble a small set of stairs.

When everything is properly marked, remove the drawers and get ready to make the new false backs. This is not completely necessary, however if you do not do this you will need to use a lot more soil and compost.

Now you will take the piece you removed from the top of the dresser and cut it in half lengthwise with the jigsaw. Again, nothing fancy, just a line down the center. This will be hidden inside the box anyway. When you have finished, you will have one more measurement for each half of this wood to make and possibly 2 more cuts.

Take one half of the wood and place it inside the second drawer. Mark a line that makes it just fit inside the drawer and cut off the excess wood. You will now line this new back piece up with the line you marked on either side earlier when you pulled the drawer out 6 inches. Using 2 nails on each side, nail the board in place. This creates a new backing to the drawer and allows you to fill the smaller section with soil and compost saving on both cost and weight added to the drawer.

Repeat the above step with the bottom drawer and you are almost done. The last thing to do is place the drawers into their proper places and you are ready to plant.

Now you simply need to fill the drawers with the proper mixture of soil and compost for your selected plants, add the plants and water as necessary.


Before using your tools, make sure to put on any eye protection such as the safety goggles. You don't want to spoil your new garden view by ruining your eyesight.

Beware when choosing your dresser not to use it if the drawers have been treated with some sort of protective coating or stain. You don't want any of those chemicals leaching into your food.

Comments 9 comments

Cheryl 7 years ago

I think this is so cool. I get a kick out of functional creative recycling.

Leslie Nicole 7 years ago

I Love the idea!!! Thanks.

chantelle 6 years ago

I hope this post isn't too old. But how do you avoid the dresser drawers, once pulled out and with tons of dirt in them, from falling forward, or breaking.

Judi Burton profile image

Judi Burton 5 years ago from Myrtle Beach

love! Great idea!

Kristi @ Addicted 2 Decorating 5 years ago

I love this project! I've included it in my roundup of 12 ways to repurpose a dresser.

Thanks for the inspiration!!

BWD316 profile image

BWD316 5 years ago from Connecticut

what an awesome idea! and it looks great too!green in everyway, voted up!

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Such a neat project--a great idea.

Donna Woods 4 years ago


annie 17 months ago

using a large kitchen cabinet for raised bed should I line the areas that are in contact with soil to avoid leeching unknown stain material?

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