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© 2019 by Community for a Sustainable World

Vancouver, British Columnbia | Canada

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12 Old Fence Boards + 12 Baby Plants + a Sunday Afternoon = 1 Recycled Wood Herb Garden



The fence between our house and the next door neighbour has been on its last legs for a while. Wet winters over the course of several years left completely falling apart. Between our two homes we have four dogs, one cat and two children so at the sight of good summer weather, it was time to fix the fence.


Full disclosure, we didn't have much of a role in putting up the new fence. Our neighbour spent a full Saturday and Sunday taking down the old one and putting up over 50 feet of new fencing... like a total legend! Our backyard smelled incredible with all of the freshly cut wood.


This weekend fence reconstruction left about 80 fence boards up for grabs. Being the crafty DIY team we are, Matt and I decided these old boards would make an excellent little garden and we had just the space for it! Matt got hard to work drafting up the vision. After a few edits we scaled this down to a doable afternoon project and penciled in a Sunday to do the work.


Living in a small apartment, storage comes at a premium. Rather than hoard our own power tools, we're part of the Vancouver Tool Library (VTL) instead. VTL is a local tool library that allows you to access and check out all kinds of tools the same way you would library books; perfect for the DIY-er in all of us!


Our Sunday agenda was simple, hit up the tool library for a table and mitre saw, swing by the landscaping place for soil and rocks and set up a backyard workshop. That's exactly what we did!


We started by assembling wood panels to surround the unused garden bed already in the corner. Having to sort through the various wood panels for good sections of wood, we decided to go with an abstract aesthetic; this was also convenient since it meant we could cut random length panels on the mitre saw and assemble them quickly. After some jigging into place, our garden bed was ready to go.


Next we used the best panels in the bunch to assemble two troughs. This was tricky to do since many of the boards were either warped or different lengths. But with a little bit of math we calculated the angles and lengths needed to cut the boards at and put them together with a little bit of force, wood glue, and some 1 1/2 inch screws.


While we had plans to build three herb troughs, we decided two was best for the space.


Next we had to figure out how to get those troughs onto the wall and how we would support them. We found some 1/2 inch posts that would make great legs. The first side of legs went on easily, but the challenge came when we had to flip is all over and screw together the opposite legs. Needless to say it took two tries, but we lined everything up perfectly and got the troughs mounted to the wall.


While we didn't plan it, conveniently the troughs were sort of angled towards the side of the garden bed so we decided it would be a good idea to drill some holes in the bottom of the upper and lower troughs to encourage drainage and water recycling between the beds. It worked, we tested it!


Finally, it was time to get the troughs all set up. We lined the troughs with rocks to help promote drainage and then covered the rocks with fresh nutrient rich soil. We dug out spaces for the different herbs and planted them. Nestled in their new homes, they had a good drink of water and settled in for the night. Matt and I are now happy herb garden parents to, Thai Dragon peppers, habanero peppers, three types of Basil, Rosemary, Dill Oregano, Parsley, and cilantro.



The garden bed was a little more work. Planning to fill the bed with veggies, we harvested the compost from our worm bin. Yes, we have a worm bin. Worms are excellent decomposers and we feed them food waste they love to eat so that we can use the compost for our gardens. Getting the compost ready takes a bit of time because you have to harvest it all first and let it sit while baiting all the worms away from the compost you need. Once out of the way, it was time to fill the garden bed by mixing the compost into the soil.



At last, we planted our tomato babies and they're lookin' pretty happy in their new home. The remaining fence boards are being use to fix up the other garden beds in the backyard and we're excited to cook with our plant babies in the coming weeks.


12 fence boards, 12 plant babies, and a Sunday afternoon later, we have two beautiful herb troughs and a garden bed that are well on their way to producing lots of delicious goodies.