Building Raised Beds

There are a variety of reasons to build raised garden beds, from poor soil to creating a more orderly garden space. This is a guide about building raised beds.
Ad

Solutions

Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

2 found this helpful
March 22, 2016 Flag

I live in Tahiti and we have a lot of rain year-round. This can be a problem when it comes to planting flowers or plants in your garden. Therefore, I decided to raise my flower beds so when it rains the water doesn't flood my plants.

Ad

Unfortunately, when the water drains from the garden it started to erode the dirt in my flower beds and they started to crumble and wash away. In order to stop the erosion and the dirt from washing away, I needed to find a solution for this problem.

I have a river that runs in front of my home. I gathered the rocks from the riverbed and brought them into the garden. I used the rocks to start building a barrier for my flower beds.

Materials needed:

  • small to medium sized rocks
  • wheelbarrow
  • small hand shovel
  • large shovel
  • dirt

Start by digging a small trench along the line of your flower bed. Place a row of medium sized rocks in the trench.

Afterwards, fill the back side of the trench and rocks with dirt. You'll need to pack the dirt down around the rocks to hold them in place.

Continue adding rocks and dirt as you build your rock wall. You're basically stacking the rocks on top of each other. You'll need to find a rock that fits well on top of the bottom rock. Adding dirt to the back of the rocks holds them in place and supports the rock wall. Furthermore, it fills and replaces the dirt in your flower bed that has washed away from the rain.

I continued adding rocks and dirt until I had made a nice rock wall that would protect my plants. Now when it rains the dirt in my flower beds is protected and no longer erodes or washes away. Furthermore, the rock wall flower beds add to the natural look of the garden.

My garden is tropical and has a lot of flowers and plants. I keep the center of the yard open for the animals and walking around. Here on the islands, it's better to have a gravel yard than a yard with a lawn. Around my garden I have different areas that I have built raised rock flower beds.

Ad
CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read 4 Comments

8 found this helpful
March 4, 2011 Flag

There are several advantages to using raised beds when gardening. They provide excellent drainage, warm soil earlier in the spring, prevent soil compaction, maximize yields in a minimum amount of space, and for gardeners with limited mobility, they can be built to any height. Perhaps best of all, raised beds also keep your garden looking neat and tidy.
Related Content(article continues below)

Gathering Your Supplies

Materials you will need:

Determining Size

Length & Width: A convenient size is 4 x 4-foot box, because lumber is readily available in 4-foot lengths. This also allows you easy access to the center of your beds from either side. Set the beds end to end to create larger gardens (4 x 8-foot or 4 x 12-foot, etc.) or arrange them in interesting patterns. If you are planting vegetables, building 3 to 4 raised beds of this size will allow for adequate crop rotation. If the bed will be positioned against a wall or fence (accessible only by three sides), limit the width to 2-3 feet so you can easily reach the plants growing in back.

Depth: Most plants need at least a 6-12 inch root zone, so your boxes should be at least 12 inches deep to allow plenty of room for roots. Using 12-inch wide lumber to construct the boxes makes this easy.

Constructing the Box

Construct your beds on a firm, flat surface (e.g. driveway, patio, or garage floor). Set the boards up on their sides and nail the ends together to create a box. Use 4 to 5 nails on each board in an off-set pattern to help prevent the wood from splitting. If you're doing this project alone, it's helpful to brace one board against a wall to hold it steady while you pound in the nails.

Optional: If you line the bottom of a raised bed with chicken wire, you can easily control gophers and other marauding rodents. Cut a piece of chicken wire/hardware cloth so it's a few inches larger than the inside dimensions of your box. Lay the wire inside of the box. Bend the excess wire up the inside walls and use a staple gun to attach it securely it to the box.

Tips for Positioning the Box

Preparing the Box for Planting

Use a sharp spade to loosen up the top few inches of soil at the bottom of the box. This will help ensure good drainage. Fill the beds with equal parts of compost, topsoil, and well-rotted manure. Water well. Allow a few days to a week for settling to occur and add extra soil if necessary.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read 4 Comments

5 found this helpful
May 31, 2009 Flag

How I made a raised garden out of cardboard boxes, a tub from an old washer and some lumber on top of my driveway. I had to haul in a pick-up load of dirt.

Raised Veggie Garden

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

1 found this helpful
April 9, 2012 Flag

We were able to put these two 4 foot square raised garden beds together this weekend. It was an easy project for the kids to help with; and they will be able to plant whatever they want in them this spring.

Two Completed Garden Beds

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

1 found this helpful
June 23, 2005 Flag

If your ground is solid rock, the best way to raise veggies is in a raised bed. My husband built a raised bed garden this year. The "blocks that hold the garden together are, believe it or not, Styrofoam. This was salvaged from boat docks a few years ago when they banned its use in the local lakes.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

2 found this helpful
June 21, 2013 Flag

I thought I came up with it all by myself and that it was terribly original, but after patting myself on the back for months, my permaculture book has informed me that this wonderful, free-to-the-point-they-may-pay-you-to-haul-it-off building material is called "urbanite".

Urbanite Raised Garden Beds

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

0 found this helpful
September 7, 2016 Flag

This is a guide about making a raised be vegetable garden. There are a number of ways you can create a very successful raised vegetable garden, whether you build with new materials or use recycled items.

Several raised garden beds full of lush plants

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

0 found this helpful
February 8, 2007 Flag

If you're short on space or the soil in your area is riddled by sand or clay, building raised beds may be the best solution to your gardening woes. You'll trade the time, money and effort required amending poor quality soil for maximum yields in a minimum amount of space.

Easy Raised Bed

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

0 found this helpful
October 9, 2008 Flag

This idea is very old, my grandmother used to have straw bale gardens. It was great for her not to have to stoop over to pick and weed her garden.

Straw Bales For Gardening

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

November 20, 2008 Flag

We made a 30x20 foot garden in our back yard with plastic and cement blocks. You do not have to remove grass. Put down plastic or a thick layer of news papers, and place cement blocks on top around the edge of the space.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

0 found this helpful
January 31, 2008 Flag

I landscape on an angle from the house. I will make a three level planter; the first level is 8 feet wide and long, the sides are white rock or, preferably, pressure treated wood.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

August 19, 2011 Flag

I love my raised beds. It helps keep different gardens separated and makes it easier to keep weeds out. They can be watered separately, depending on what you are growing in them.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

0 found this helpful
June 27, 2005 Flag

If you can get hold of some old car tyres, stack them up. They make great raised beds for flowers or vegetables. You can fill them part way up with old used compost and top up with new for economy. Great if you have trouble bending or kneeling.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

0 found this helpful
January 16, 2012 Flag

In the summer of 2011, I had raised beds made to accommodate a wheelchair and my short arm width necessary to reach across to weed. They have landscape fabric to control weeds on the bottom, a layer of sod face down, then layers of newspaper and leaves that will decompose and on top, regular soil.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...

Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

April 2, 2011 Flag

I'd like to see some pictures of various raised veggie garden beds you have made from recycled wood or other recycled items. The ones I see in books and on line aren't recycled items (but rather made of recycled materials).

What I have made works, but is rather "ugly". I don't want to buy the beds, or buy the materials, but am hoping to repurpose items already here on the farm, trying to be thrifty!

So, I am hoping some of you can give me some good ideas! I plan on going 100% raised bed gardening this year for my veggies.

Hardiness Zone: 5a

By April from NW MO

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
April 11, 20110 found this helpful

My non-recycled raised beds are kind of boring. I live in Texas, so I was thinking about using some barn tin on the sides of my wood, and painting them with bluebonnets and other Texas wildflowers to cutesy them up.

Check out your local craigslist in the "free" section, or freecycle, for materials. I see a lot of fences taken down, the fence pickets looking quite nice but not useable for another fense, and other construction materials.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

0 found this helpful
October 30, 2008 Flag

My husband and I are looking for a platform bed. Does anyone has a good suggestion? Where can we find a good deal on a good quality platform bed? Thanks.

Peggy from Mcallen, TX

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
June 25, 20100 found this helpful

Fake one like we did. I wanted one too but couldn't afford it. So we took 2x12's sanded, stained to match bedroom furniture, put the box spring on the floor and boxed it in. Mattress on top no headboard. Looks like the pretties you see in the magazines. I also wanted Asian furniture like the Mino collection which cost about 2500.00 for livingroom set. We made a couch,settee and two chairs for under 300.00 which included all materials. We reused our old cushions and I sewed covers for them. This stuff is stout and can withstand active children and all the cushion are removable to be washed.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

0 found this helpful
May 10, 2016 Flag

I want to build a raised vegetable box in my yard, but have dogs next door and because my yard runs on an angle all their urine runs through my yard. Will my vegetables be afflicted by that? How do I get rid of the smell?

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
November 1, 2013 Flag

I have read how straw bales are used to build a raised garden. I was wondering if straw could be used to line the bottom of a wood build raised garden? I was thinking that the straw would decompose and provide nutrients for the soil as well as help to maintain moisture. Please help out.

By Faye B.

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
November 5, 20130 found this helpful

That would depend on what kind of straw you're using and what kind of plants you're going to put in. Pine straw (needles) are acidic. The straw that's left over from cutting hay is full of seeds. Also, as the straw breaks down the level of your soil will drop.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
January 4, 2011 Flag

I am looking for an economical way to edge my raised beds. I have a large garden and lumber is just way too expensive to do all of the beds. Any ideas?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Heidi from PA

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
January 7, 20110 found this helpful

Heidi, you could use old wooden pallets. I know at work, we gets lots of spare ones. We give them away to people for putting firewood on, temporary flooring, broken ones are ideal for firewood etc. Most businesses are pleased to get rid of them. They make good compost heap frames. Most are made of untreated wood, which is ideal. No chemicals leaching into plants. Best of all, free. I have heard of freecyle that may be another option. Many lumber yards also have offcuts and they will sometimes give them away or even packing crates are good, if companies import heavy items. Just a few ideas. brentnz

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

0 found this helpful
February 9, 2009 Flag

I would like to use all the rocks that seem to grow here to good use. Instead of buying wood to make raised beds in the garden I would like to try building it with the stones. The previous owner left three bags of quick-crete, so I was hoping to use that. Will I have to wash all the rocks first? Do I have to put down a layer of sand before I even start? How long will it have to 'set' before I put in the dirt?
Has anyone tried this before, and what worked and what didn't.

Any knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
February 10, 20090 found this helpful

Whenever you make anything outside using concrete, you should dig into the soil and lay a foundation. Check your area to see what your frost line is, that will tell you how deep to dig. Since this isn't the foundation for a building, merely a raised garden bed, it won't need to be as deep as the frostline--but that will give you something to go by. If you fail to do this, cold freezes can crack and raise part of the raised wall. Personally, depending on the types of rocks, I'd either dry stack them, or if they're smaller, build a form out of scrap wood and make the retaining wall in sections, then just lay them together on top of the ground. This way if one lifts, you can dig to lower it; if it sinks, you can add soil to raise it; if you want to move the bed or make it bigger/smaller, that would be an option too.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

0 found this helpful
October 24, 2011 Flag

Can you turn an old fridge into a raised veggie bed? I would need to put drainage holes in the back and lay it back on ground. What are potential hazards?

By Bec B

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
October 25, 20110 found this helpful

Refrigerators are an environmental hazard that need to be specially disposed of, so turning one into a veggie bed isn't a good idea I'm afraid. Depending on the age of the fridge it might contain CFC's, mercury, and other baddies. Even newer ones have things you wouldn't want leaking into the soil. Better to see your fridge properly recycled. There are plenty of ways to make raised beds from reclaimed materials that would be a safer bet. Good luck with your garden!

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
August 22, 2014 Flag

I would like to construct a raised bed garden on a hilly area. The best plan would look like 3 beds of 3 feet by 10 feet. Any suggestions? The is soil is poor and possibly rocky so I think just placing the boxes on top and filling with good soil is best. To avoid tons of soil I am thinking of raising the bottoms up on the lower box. I need advice on drainage too.

By Nancy

AnswerWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

Photos

Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photographs. Click at right to share your own photo in this guide.

July 2, 2010 Flag

I upgraded my boxes this year, bigger and taller.

By Melissa

Photo of raised bed made with wood.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read 1 Comment

Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

0 found this helpful
April 2, 2011 Flag

I am looking to find some free or inexpensive wood to build a raised garden. Other than Home Depot or Lowe's, any ideas where I can find this?

By Deno from Mesa, AZ

Answers:

Inexpensive Raised Beds

Look around your town. People throw away wood and all kinds of stuff. Check out lumber outlets - used lumber is sold cheap. I have a wood rail that I am using for a seat in my garden. The neighbor gave it to me, and some long steel that I will use on my garden wall. Good luck. (03/24/2010)

By iruiz27

Inexpensive Raised Beds

freecyle.org. Join a community near you and then offer a small item and then ask for the lumber. You will probably get several offers. (03/24/2010)

By Robyn Fed

Inexpensive Raised Beds

Another way you can cut down on costs is to go to car dealerships or auto repair stores and ask for their old used tires. most will give you tires for free, and they hold a lot of dirt. You can stack them if you want to plant potatoes, or if you simply don't want to bend over and have enough dirt or stone to fill up the bottom tires. Most used tires have been exposed to air long enough to oxidize, so you won't have to worry about chemicals leeching into the soil. (03/24/2010)

By Ladyscorpio0088

Inexpensive Raised Beds

I used cement blocks to make my raised bed garden. You do not need to remove the grass. It will last a life time, put down plastic or several layers of news papers then put the blocks around it on the edges of the plastic to hold it down and to keep the grass from growing in the garden, fill with composted manure. Sprinkle some 10-10-10-fertilizer on it, water it then you are ready to plant your garden and have veggies growing all the time, good luck. (03/24/2010)

By kffrmw88

Inexpensive Raised Beds

Many communities have sources for reusable building supplies. Our local source is called ReSource. Check with waste management companies and town or county government. (03/25/2010)

By Wynclute

Inexpensive Raised Beds

One year a neighbor had tons of wooden pallets from his work. It didn't take much to take out inside wood and had perfect size squares to put many kinds of veges in. (03/25/2010)

By msburny

Inexpensive Raised Beds

I just read about haybale gardening! Try this link: thegardenersrake.com/hay-bale-gardeneing-techniques (may have to cut and paste to your browser) or just Google haybale gardening! (03/26/2010)

By mom of towers

Inexpensive Raised Beds

I used old fence boards. Just find a contractor that puts up privacy fences and pick up their scrap wood. That and a couple of 2x4's for the corners and bottom to hold everything together. The beauty of it is the are already treated to withstand the weather. You can line the box with weed barrier cloth stapled to the sides and bottom to keep the soil in. Hope this helps. Good luck. (08/26/2010)

By rach1964

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes

0 found this helpful
July 2, 2010 Flag

Here is a raised bed that my husband put together this weekend. It is 4x10 feet and 20 inches high.

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
Read More...
Load More
Categories
Home and Garden Gardening Raised BedsAugust 12, 2011
Guides
stack of railroad ties
Using Railroad Ties for Raised Vegetable Beds
Several raised garden beds full of lush plants
Making a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden
Gardening in Raised Beds
Gardening in Raised Beds
Garden Pond
Building a Garden Pond
More
🍀
St. Patrick's Ideas!
💘
Valentine's Ideas!
Facebook
Pinterest
YouTube
Contests!
Newsletters
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Categories
© 1997-2017 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Published by . Page generated on January 18, 2017 at 9:14:03 PM on 10.0.2.231 in 3 seconds. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of ThriftyFun's Disclaimer and Privacy Policy. If you have any problems or suggestions feel free to Contact Us.
Loading Something Awesome!