Having written a lot about building raised beds, I love seeing what different gardeners have created to grow their own food. You don’t always need a big budget! With a little creativity, ordinary objects and materials can be turned into a garden. As we start to plan out our gardens for the growing season, I thought I would share some inexpensive raised garden bed ideas.
With the popularity of growing in raised beds in the last several years, there are loads of options online and in stores, and different price points. You can opt for kits or hardware that make assembly a cinch, measure out and purchase lumber to build something, or you can use natural materials, like rocks and logs, or even upcycled items. I tried to keep these suggestions under the $100 mark. And in some cases, these DIY garden beds could cost you nothing. Except the soil and plants to fill your new raised bed, of course.
Tips for finding inexpensive materials to make raised beds
Timber, especially rot-resistant woods, like cedar, can run on the pricier side, as can kits and other ready-to-build options. But there are affordable ways to create a garden. Do keep in mind that once you build your raised bed, you also have to fill it with good soil—another expense!
I’m a huge champion of upcycling, which is giving an object that no longer has a purpose a new life, thus diverting it from a landfill. When I wrote Raised Bed Revolution, I included project plans. But I also wanted to make sure I provided some inexpensive raised garden bed ideas. I’m continually inspired by other green thumbs’ ingenuity. Discovering what others have created was like unearthing a buried treasure.
Yard sales, antique markets, classified ads, that void behind your shed where items go, never to be heard from again, all of these places can be fruitful when searching for items to upcycle.
One thing I always advise when giving a talk about raised beds is to avoid using pressure-treated boards that have come from an old deck or fence. Chances are the chemicals have long since dissipated. But if you’re growing food, it’s better to err on the side of caution.
Inexpensive raised garden bed ideas using natural materials
Sometimes your raised bed materials are already part of your landscape. If you’ve ever had a mature tree taken down, you know that is a LOT of wood to get rid of. Place your new logs into a rectangle and all you have to do is add soil! The great thing is that wood will start to break down over time, acting as sort of a living compost. Rocks and large stones can also be used to outline a raised bed.
Building raised beds from bricks, blocks, and pavers
When I decided to carve out an area of my front lawn for raised beds, I discovered that my local landscaping supply store had an area where you can look for old pavers and stones that had come from former projects. They were a fraction of the price! I used square patio stones to outline the garden where my galvanized raised beds sit, but these materials could easily be used to create a raised bed itself!
Concrete blocks, or cinder blocks as they used to be called, are another item that could be cheap if you’re upcycling them from another project. Pricing them out, they can cost anywhere from $1.50 to $5 apiece, making them a budget-friendly option, even for a larger raised bed.
Inexpensive raised garden bed ideas using upcycled items
Besides the aforementioned bookcase, any number of items can be repurposed to create a raised bed garden. Wooden pallets can be taken apart or fashioned into a vertical garden. Tables can be pulled out storage and used to plant lettuces. And if you didn’t have to purchase the item with the intention of MacGyvering it into something, there’s nothing better than free-ninety-nine!
The main thing to consider when upcycling something is that there are adequate drainage holes. You don’t want soggy soil when you’re growing veggies. Drainage holes are easy enough to drill into wood. That’s what I did with my upcycled wooden suitcase project with gas pipe legs or the half whisky barrel I’ve turned into an herb garden. Other projects may require an HSS (high-speed steel) drill bit to power through, like with my wash basin raised bed.
With some projects, you just get lucky. If you are upcycling a stock tank, for example, there is usually a plug in the bottom. That means your drainage situation is already settled. Many recycling bins also have holes already in the bottom.
Inexpensive raised bed projects using purchased items
Sometimes budget-friendly items can be purchased new, coming together to create a raised bed, like my window well project. I’ve spoken a lot about what great choices raised bed corners are for those who don’t have woodworking skills or all the tools. You can also find corners that help you outline a raised bed made from interlocking bricks or pavers.
If you’re looking for a lightweight option, grow bags or fabric raised beds are much less expensive than lumber. And you can find them in larger sizes equivalent to what you may consider building for a raised bed.
Discover more inexpensive raised bed ideas
** Learn the basics of raised bed gardening from me at Savvy Gardening School! **
- Growing vegetables in straw bales
- Turn an old washbasin into a raised bed
- Build a lettuce table out of an old piece of furniture
- The benefits of growing fruits and vegetables in fabric raised beds
Pin this to your raised bed inspiration board
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