Raised garden beds are great, but the traditional wood version can be pretty expensive to build and maintain if you don’t have the time or expertise to do it yourself. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to build one that cost much less while still providing plenty of value to your backyard vegetable growing efforts. Here are five ways to build an inexpensive raised garden bed that won’t break the bank (and will even save you money in the long run).
Use reclaimed materials
Using the wood from old fences
By salvaging the wood from old fences, you’re helping keep that resource in circulation. This can be difficult as some materials may be poisonous, but if it’s a safe option then it will save you money and your garden bed won’t look out of place amongst its surroundings. Be sure to check with your local recycling center before using any materials so that you know what is appropriate and what’s not safe for your bed or the environment.
Old pallets work well for raised garden beds because they are durable, inexpensive, and easy to assemble! All you need is a saw or a crowbar (depending on how warped the boards are) and some screws or nails.
If you have a patch of weeds/vines growing near your property, consider harvesting them and putting them to use! Often times these plants grow wild without any care which means they are extremely healthy and perfect for adding depth and nutrients to your garden bed.
Milk crates make good garden edging when stacked next to each other because there is space between them which allows dirt to drain through while also keeping everything contained within the boundaries. It’s important that these crates don’t have holes in them since this would allow weed seeds through as well. When positioning the milk crates, make sure to leave at least 1 inch of space between them to allow water drainage. When watering the bed, you want to give extra attention to the corners where water may accumulate and cause rot to develop over time.
A cheap alternative is sheet metal like galvanized steel or aluminum. The panels should already come at about 36 inches wide and most hardware stores sell packages that range from 12 feet long all the way up to 60 feet long depending on how much length you’ll need. To attach the pieces together, first measure the width of your frame piece. Next, measure the height and cut pieces accordingly. Then drill holes every 4-6 inches across both sides and insert self-tapping screws. Once done assembling, you may want to seal joints with silicone caulking or putty tape before attaching a finishing coat such as polyurethane paint. Not only does this prevent leaks, but it also keeps pests away!
Use pallets as the structure
Some businesses still ship on pallets, but many shipping companies charge more for pallet delivery. If you find yourself with a few extra pallets and want to create a raised garden bed, here are some ideas on how to get started.
Cut two 2x6s down the middle so they’re 1x6s. Cut four of these 1x6s so they’re 6 inches high. Place one 1×6 perpendicular against the other, ensuring that both ends are flush with the opposite end of their partner. Mark where each screw will go; two screws per joint is ideal but you can use four if you want a stronger hold. Drill pilot holes before driving in your screws.
Make sure the boards are even by using a level as you drill your pilot holes and drive in your screws. Once all joints have been screwed together, stand up your new frame. Screw or nail it into place at the bottom edge first, then nail or screw it into place at the top edge. You can now add soil inside the frame to start planting seeds or layering newspapers. For really long beds, build two frames that are three feet apart from each other, creating a cross shape within the planter box.
To provide additional stability when planting small plants, stagger the joints instead of connecting them side-by-side so there’s room for roots to grow around them. If you need help figuring out what size nails or screws work best for this project, ask someone who works in construction near your home! They might be able to give you some advice about what would work best. You could also check online or look through old catalogs from local hardware stores for information on different sizes.
Add a lining for water drainage
You can line your raised garden bed with corrugated sheet metal for water drainage. This will help prevent excess water from pooling at the bottom of the bed and flooding your plants. If you are using plastic, there are options that are pre-punched with holes to allow for water runoff (such as Agribon Erosion Control Barrier).
You can also purchase inexpensive perforated PVC pipe (this is commonly used for indoor window wells) and cut it down into sections so that you have pieces that are about 2 feet long. Use screws or staples to attach the pipes over top of the box frame at different levels. Drill two small holes in each piece of pipe near the base where they meet the soil, then fill in around them with gravel or stones. Add the right amount of soil: Too much soil means more weight and a higher chance of collapse.
Start by adding 6 inches of loose compostable material like leaves, straw, grass clippings, or hay to provide nutrients for planting vegetables. Then add 3 inches on top of that for good measure – this will be amended throughout the season as needed. Add in a good layer of straw mulch: Cover your newly constructed raised garden bed with a thick layer (6 inches) of quality straw mulch such as wheat straw which provides insulation against frost during cold weather months.
Wheat straw not only insulates the bed but also helps keep weeds at bay while still allowing rainwater to drain through easily. Apply a generous layer of chicken manure: Wait until after you’ve covered your raised garden bed with straw mulch before spreading a generous layer of organic chicken manure over top. The decomposition process should happen quickly since there’s plenty of fresh air flowing through the gaps in the straw and manure acts as a fertilizer for your vegetable plants.
It’s best to avoid using manure with straw or hay in order to prevent any potential risk of fire. Fill any gaps: Fill any space between the edge of your garden bed and other objects like a fence or wall with landscape fabric, making sure it slopes downward toward any pools or ponds. Gaps create entrances for pests and small animals that can wreak havoc on your crops. Install drip irrigation system: After installing drip irrigation lines onto stakes within the raised garden bed, place them along one side.
From here install additional lines perpendicular to those first ones and position them every 12 inches outwards from a center point along all sides of raised bedding area. Connect the end of the tubing to the stakes and then run a siphon tube across the surface of your raised bedding area. Place your plant containers, made with scrap wood, upside down inside these tubes. Be sure to use pots that are narrower than your drip tube diameter to ensure proper flow.
As you fill your pots with soil, press them gently against the stake in the ground. This will minimize any spilling of water that can potentially overflow and make its way back to your raised garden bed. For a professional look, you can also purchase a 4’x8′ roll of landscaping fabric (the kind that doesn’t require stapling or tying), and lay it flat on top of your raised garden bed. Cut slits at regular intervals for the drip irrigation lines to poke through, starting at the edges and working towards the center.
Make sure the slit is wide enough for the drip tube to fit through. A 1/2-inch slit should do the trick. Fill in any gaps with mulch and then pack it down tightly to prevent any weeds from sprouting up. You can also put a layer of black or white garden fabric over top to discourage weed growth.
Choose a good location
Plant your garden bed in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. If you don’t have much sun, choose a spot near an open window or on the south side of your house. The best time to plant a raised garden bed is after the last frost when soil temperatures are around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some people plant earlier and then use row covers for protection from the elements.
A well-drained site will help plants thrive and be less susceptible to pests and diseases. You can improve drainage by digging down 18 inches or more with a shovel and adding 2 inches of gravel at the bottom before adding dirt fill.
Finally, dig holes that are twice as wide as they are deep. Fill each hole with loose dirt, then add 2 inches of compost material (optional) and top it off with more loose dirt before planting.
Avoid these five mistakes if you want your garden bed to last: never skimp on depth; make sure it’s level; use good quality materials; allow for proper drainage, and build sturdy sides for support.
Top with soil or mulch
Starting with a sturdy frame is the key to making sure your raised garden bed will last for years. A simple frame that is made of 2x4s and posts can be turned into a raised garden bed in a number of ways. You can screw the wooden boards directly onto the posts, cover them with mesh wire or attach some form of lattice material to them.
Instead of securing the 2x4s directly on top of each other, they can be screwed into pre-drilled holes that are spaced evenly apart. This leaves space between each board so water drains out and the air gets in. This type of setup also means you can remove boards if you want more sun or direct access to what’s being grown below it.
By spacing the boards out this way, you’ll have easier access to plants from all sides. If digging up soil sounds like too much work, get a flat piece of wood that fits snugly inside the perimeter of your raised garden bed, and then put about six inches worth of dirt on top of it before planting. It won’t look as nice as mulch but this method works well when growing vegetables like carrots or potatoes.
If building an entire new raised garden bed sounds too time-consuming, there are many types available at home improvement stores that come in pieces and snap together easily with no construction required! The most common type found at hardware stores is made of plastic while others are made from composite materials.
The cost ranges from around $30-$60 depending on size. They’re also easy to move around because they don’t need stakes pounded into the ground and take up less space than traditional gardens because you don’t need a deep hole for drainage.
If building one seems too complicated, plant things closer together in traditional rows instead of scattering seeds over several feet of ground – this makes it easier to weed and harvest produce without disturbing neighboring plants.
In this blog post, we looked at five ways you can build inexpensive raised garden beds. To recap, there are: buying a kit (which is a cost-effective way of avoiding the hard work and providing assurance of a professional finish), using recycled materials like wood pallets, using re-used building materials, DIY with brick and stone or kits from hardware stores. If you want something more off the beaten track for your raised bed, then combine these materials with some ingenuity and creativity.
Hi I’m Bilal Malik, a digital marketing and blogging expert holding years of experience.