19 Cheap and Inexpensive Raised Garden Bed Ideas (DIY)

Raised beds have become an extremely popular gardening trend in the last decade and with good reason! Whether you’re growing vegetables or flowers, tending them in raised beds can lead to bigger and better results. However, getting started can be an expensive proposition. There are plenty of kits and pre-built raised beds available for purchase, but that always costs more than doing it yourself. To save you money and come up with a custom look for your garden, let’s look at some DIYs for building your own raised beds at a bargain price!

Just before we look at specific suggestions, there are a few basics that apply to any raised bed.

For the most part, you won’t be building anything on the bottom of these beds. At the most, if you’re setting your beds up on existing grass, you should lay down a thick layer of cardboard to help smother the grass. Over time, that cardboard will break down, and the roots of the plants in your raised bed will be able to stretch down into the soil beneath.

Once you’ve built the sides of your raised bed, you don’t have to use topsoil for the whole depth. Start with rough compost, straw, or even chunks of untreated wood or logs at the bottom, layered with finished compost and then topsoil for the top few inches.

1. Raised Beds Using Old Tires


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by ShantellRobertson (@yaasdarling)


Right off the bat, let’s get one thing straight: if you use old tires for making raised beds, only use them for growing ornamentals. Never plant anything that you’re planning to eat in tires, as they will leach dangerous chemicals as they break down. However, they’re a cheap alternative for ornamental plantings, so if you’ve got some old tires lying around, you can create some unique planters with them. Try painting them in bright colours, or turning them inside out for a really cool look! You can stack several on top of each other for higher beds, and they’ll be tough enough to last for years.

2. Build a Wattle Raised Bed (Interwoven Branches)


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Dave Jackson (@thesticksmith)


For a natural, rustic look, consider using branches woven together to form sturdy sides for your raised beds. It’s a classic technique that’s been used for centuries in country gardens. Whether you can gather materials on your own property, or obtain them from local sources such as professional landscapers, it’s a great way to make use of what would otherwise be disposed of by shredding or burning. Species such as willow, hazel, or dogwood are all good choices for making your wattle raised beds. Pound stakes into the ground at one-foot intervals, and then weave your branches through them until you reach the desired height. Make sure that you push the branches down to get as solid a wall as possible, and then line the interior with landscape fabric.

3. Raised Garden Bed with Rocks


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mio Ratiu (@organicgardenintransylvania)


If you live in a region with lots of rocks just lying around, why not make use of them in building attractive and permanent raised beds? While wooden beds will eventually rot and need to be replaced, a well-built rock raised bed will last indefinitely. If you have a supply of flat stones, as you can simply stack the stones. Otherwise, mix up a batch of mortar and start building your walls! Just be sure to build in some drainage holes near the bottom to let out excess water.

4. Multiple Layers of Landscape Fabric

Multiple Layers of Landscape Fabric

Maybe you’re just dipping your toes into the world of raised bed gardening, and don’t want to make any permanent changes until you’ve seen how it goes for you. While beds made from layers of landscape fabric won’t last forever, you can certainly try out the raised bed technique for a season to see how it goes! Pound in sturdy wooden stakes to your desired height, and then staple a few layers of landscape fabric to form a bottomless box sitting on top of the earth. You shouldn’t cover the whole surface of the ground with the fabric, but do let it curve inwards on the ground to hold the dirt in at the base.

If everything goes well, next season all you will need to do is add your permanent sides against the landscape fabric, and then you’ll be ready to grow again!

5. Build Using Free Old Wooden Pallets


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Applegarth (@viennawoods1960)


I am biased, as all of our raised beds are made from pallet wood. While we have started to replace the older ones, we find that even without being treated, they will last for about 5 years, which is a good deal for free materials! Use ones that haven’t been treated with chemicals, and if you do want to seal them use a non-toxic alternative such as tung oil that is safe for contact with food plants. It’s also a good idea to line the inside with landscape fabric, as the boards will shrink over time, leaving gaps that dirt can seep through.

6. Upcycle a Table into an Elevated Raised Bed

Sometimes, a really high raised bed is just what you need. For instance, people confined to wheelchairs can still enjoy gardening if a bed is set atop a frame that their chair will fit under. While you can certainly build a frame for that purpose, why not use an old table that would otherwise be thrown away? Simply build a shallow box to fit on top, drill a few holes in the tabletop for drainage, and fill the box with a good potting mix.

7. Bricks or Pavers


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by angelina williamson (@angelinawrites)


Materials such as bricks or paving stones are an excellent choice for raised beds that are not just functional but also decorative. Well-built brick raised beds will last for decades. Whether they’re edging your patio, or part of a courtyard garden, brick beds are a classic and practical choice. Keep an eye out on Facebook Marketplace for people looking to get rid of old bricks for free. They don’t even have to all match, depending on the look you’re going for!

8. Mix and Make Your Own Concrete Beds


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by JenMar Farms (@jenmarfarms)


Pouring concrete is another way to build permanent raised beds that will require little or no maintenance over the years, and can be done as a DIY project. You can either build the forms in place and pour your concrete mix directly, or cast panels and then put them in place once they’ve cured. Either way, it’s a good idea to rent or buy a portable concrete mixer to make the job run more smoothly.

9. Build a Gabion Raised Bed


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by BABER DESIGN + BUILD (@baberdesignbuild)


If you have access to lots of small rocks, gabion walls can be used to form your raised beds. Start by cutting sturdy wire mesh to size. Once you’ve formed the cages, fill them with stones. You can finish off the top edges with boards, which can also provide a place to sit while enjoying your raised bed garden or even doing some weeding!

10. Repurpose an Old Wooden Dinghy Boat


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mary Elizabeth (@designphenomena)


Your boat spring a leak? Turn it into a raised bed! This is a perfect way to add some flair to a cottage landscape next to beach where the soil isn’t the best. Simply drag your old boat to a spot where you want something growing, fill it with good quality soil, and start planting!

11. Cinder Block Raised Beds


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Frugal 👩🏻‍🌾 gardening (@frugalgardening)


Practical and long-lasting, cinder or cement blocks are an easy way to create raised beds. Sometimes you can be lucky and score some used ones free or cheap, making this an even more affordable project. If you’re only laying a single height of blocks, you don’t even need to worry about mortaring the blocks together. Simply lay the blocks out in your desired dimensions and fill the interior with soil. You can even fill the cavities in the blocks with soil for individual plants!

12. Log Raised Garden Beds

Living on a rural property with lots of trees to cut down? Why not use those logs to build raised beds? It’s only going to be cheap if you’ve got ready access to the logs, but if you do, it’s a great way to make raised beds with relatively little work. Secure the logs in place with sturdy stakes pounded in on both sides. You can easily stack logs on top of each other for additional height.

13. Use Old Plastic Milk Crates


Even the smallest outdoor space can have a raised bed when you have some old milk crates ready to use! Take as many crates as you’ve got or have room for, line them with landscape fabric on the bottom and sides, and place them where they’ll get enough sun for plants to flourish. You can move them around whenever you want as well, for the ultimate in versatility.

14. Repurpose an Old Bathtub


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Bathtubs2bellies (@bathtubs2bellies)


Renovating? Got an old bathtub (or more) to get rid of? Save yourself the landfill fees and turn that old tub into a raised bed garden! Of course, a vintage clawfoot cast iron tub makes for a beautiful addition to a landscape, but you can also use less decorative bathtubs for practical purposes in the vegetable garden. You don’t even need to worry about adding a drainage hole, as that’s already built in! It’s best to build a simple wood frame to support the tub, and then you can fill it with good-quality soil to support flowers, vegetables, or even small shrubs.

15. Sideways Cut in Half Barrel Beds


If your space is limited and you want to make a raised bed that is not only practical but decorative, a wood barrel that’s been cut in half lengthways is the way to go. It will fit perfectly on even a small patio or deck, and can be planted with either ornamentals or vegetables such as a grape tomato plant.

16. Recycled Metal Raised Beds

You will see corrugated metal raised beds for sale everywhere right now, as they are the current favourite style of raised beds. That makes sense; they’re long-lasting and virtually maintenance-free, but buying them can get expensive really fast! Consider making your own from salvaged materials. You can find used metal roofing or sheet metal, or even old galvanized washing tubs for sturdy raised beds.

17. Straw Bale Raised Beds


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Niki Jabbour (@nikijabbour)


Straw bales make great raised beds, without having to build anything! Briefly, all you have to do for straw bale gardening is place the bales where you want them, and then condition them to prepare them for planting. Several applications of high-nitrogen fertilizer and lots of watering for 2 weeks will start the decomposition process, and then you can plant out seedlings.

You can turn straw bale beds into more permanent raised beds the next year, by simply building sides out of whatever you want to enclose the composting straw. This also saves you money, as you’ll need less soil to fill the beds up!

18. Wine Bottle Raised Beds


This may sound crazy, but building raised beds out of stacked wine bottles can actually have real benefits in your garden! It’s possible that you can gain a few extra weeks in your growing season by using wine bottles as retaining walls. If the bottles are laid on their sides with the open ends facing inwards, the sun will warm up the air inside the bottles, which will then be transmitted deep into the soil. Save up your bottles or scrounge them from friends, and see how it goes!

19. Make A Garden Bed from a Bed!

Garden Bed from a Bed

Yes, you read that right. If you’ve got an old wood or metal bedframe that’s been retired from bedroom duty, why not bring it outside? A bedframe that has siderails as well as a head and footboard can either be nestled into the earth and then filled up, or can be placed on the ground and left elevated. If you have an old cast-iron bedstead, it’s perfect for filling with colourful annual bedding plants, while less decorative bedsteads can be used in the vegetable garden.

Leave a Comment