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Building Raised Beds

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Building Raised Beds, Wood framed garden bed.

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.

Solutions: Building Raised Beds

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Article: Directions for Building Simple Raised Beds

Raised Garden BedThere 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.

Gathering Your Supplies

Materials you will need:
  • Rot-resistant lumber in 4-foot, 8-foot, or 12-foot lengths (Use lumber that is 12 inches wide and 2 inches thick. Redwood and cedar are both naturally rot-resistant and, depending on the conditions, can last for up to 10-15 years before decaying. Avoid using pressure-treated wood or wood treated with water-repellant preservatives, especially if you're planting edible plants. These contain toxic chemicals that may inhibit plant growth and contaminate the soil.)

  • 1 lb. box of 2 1/2-inch or 3-inch galvanized nails

  • Hammer

  • Optional: Chicken wire/hardware cloth & staple gun (to deter rodents)

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

  • Once constructed, have someone help you carry the beds to the desired location and set them on top of the ground.

  • If necessary, dig the sides of the beds into the ground so the top of the bed is level on all sides.

  • If your beds are rectangular rather than square, you'll maximize sunlight by positioning them so that the long side runs north to south.

  • A 3 foot aisle between beds and other structures will accommodate wheelbarrows and lawn mowers.

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.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Square Foot Raised Garden Beds

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.

The best part about assembling them in this way is that there is no real need for precision. If you drill the holes off by a bit or a couple of the boards aren't exactly 4 feet long, it isn't a big deal. The bed will still be plenty stable and hold enough dirt to make a great garden plot.

Making the garden beds 4 feet square would work well for anyone utilizing the square foot gardening method. They are easy to reach across and tall enough that they are more comfortable to work in than a shorter bed.

Supplies

This is what you will need to put together one 4x4 foot garden bed.
  • 8 2x10 (inch) boards cut to 4 feet long
  • 4 4x4 (inch) boards but to 2 feet long
  • 32 3.5 inch deck screws
  • 32 1/4 inch washers
  • 1/2 gallon of wood stain (1 gallon was enough to stain 2 beds)
  • drill and drill bits
  • measuring tape
  • pencil
Garden Bed Supplies

Total spent for 4 garden beds:

  • $16.08  16 4x4s, cut to 2 feet in length
  • $81.76  32 2x10s, cut to 4 feet in length
  • $29.98  5lb box of 3.5 inch deck crews
  • $18.90  6 packages of 25 count washers
  • $56.96  2 gallons of Minwax wood stain
  • $3.97  1 wide paint brush

Total = $207.65 or $51.91 per garden bed

Instructions:

  1. Cut your boards down to the proper length. The 4x4s are 24 inches and the 2x10s are 48 inches.
  2. I bought the lumber at Home Depot, and they will cut it down to size for free. They used to charge $1 per cut, but seem to have stopped doing that. I am not sure if that is a national policy or just local, but it sure saved me a lot of time and money.
  3. The longer boards tend to be cheaper per linear foot. So, for the 2x10s we purchased 12 foot boards and had them cut into thirds, making them all basically 4 feet long.


    Thrifty Tip: Check the bargain wood bin that is usually back by the cutting center. We found a bunch of four foot pressure treated 4x4s, that they were just getting ready to mark as discounted. They marked each as $4.01 then cut them down into the 2 foot sections we needed.

    When I got to the cashier though, I noticed the 8 foot pressure treat 4x4s were $7.97 each, thus making my wood from the bargain bin more expensive. It was only $.04 a board, but I still asked the cashier how something from the bargain bin would cost more. She agreed with me and cut the price to $2.01 each. So all told, I got sixteen 2 foot long pressure treated 4x4s for about a dollar a piece ($16.08). Now that's a bargain!

  4. Measure 2 inches in from one end of the board on all of the 2x10s and mark them there. This is where the screws will line up with the center of the 4x4s from the end of the 2x10.
  5. Marking Board at 2 Inches

  6. Measure 3.5 inches in from the opposite end on all of the 2x10s and mark them there. This is where the screws will line up with the center of the 4x4s when it is butted up against the other 2x10.
  7. Marking Board at 3.5 Inches

  8. At the 2 inch and 3.5 inch marks, measure across the board and mark it at 3 inches and 7 inches on both ends.
  9. Marking Board at 3 Inches Marking Board at 7 Inches

  10. Pre-drill the 4 marked spots on each board with a bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the screws you will be using.
  11. Drilling Holes

  12. At each of the 4 holes, use a 3/4 inch boring bit to create a counter sink for the washer and screw head.
  13. Drilling Counter Sink Close up of Counter Sink

  14. Stain the 2x10s with a wood sealant. Be sure to soak the screw holes and end of the boards well. I like the natural wood look so I used a light stain to bring out the natural color of the douglas fir panels. This step is not 100% necessary, but it will make your garden bed last much longer.
  15. Staining Wood Panels of Garden Bed

  16. When the stain has had a chance to soak in on the first side, flip the board over and stain the second side.
  17. Boy Helping Stain Panels

  18. Since I had managed to get pressure treated 4x4s, I only stained the cut ends on those boards. So if you have regular 4x4s, you should stain those at this time as well.
  19. Stained Panels Drying

  20. Once the stain is dry, you are ready to assemble. These beds will be heavy, so assembling them near their final destination will save you some backache.
  21. Two Stained Boards Drying

  22. Start by putting whatever is the ugliest end (there is always an ugly end) of one of the 4x4s facing upward, as this is the part that will be in the ground and not visible later.
  23. Next, line up the end of the 2x10 with the holes drilled at two inches in and square it up with the edges of the 4x4. The easiest way to do this is to lay the two 4x4s on the ground and then lay the 2x10 on top of it.
  24. Lining up End of Board

  25. Drive the screw, with washer, into the 4x4 through the holes you pre-drilled.
  26. Drilling First Panel

  27. Putting together all four corners as pictured below was easiest and fastest way we found to put these beds together.
  28. Assembled First Corner

  29. Once you have all the 4x4s attached so they are flush on the end of the 2x10s, the 3.5 inch ends will all line up with the 4x4 on the other side. Assemble the 4 pieces into a square and you are done with the hard part.
  30. First Level of Panels

  31. To add stability to the structure, you can offset the first board of the second level. This way, the end with the holes drilled at two inches lines up with the edge of a 4x4 that was attached at 3.5 inches on the first level. However, it is plenty sturdy if you don't wish to offset them. See photo below.
  32. Attaching Second Level on Panels

  33. Once all the boards are attached, flip it over and you are ready to put it in place!
  34. One Completed Garden Bed

We purchased enough lumber to put four of these beds in our front yard. As you can see, the first two came together very easily in 1 day. I will write an update next week when I have them all ready to fill with soil.

Two Completed Garden Beds

By Jess from Hillsboro, OR

Tip: Using Raised Bed to Separate Different Vegetables

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. Herbs don't need as much water as vegetables. Tomatoes can be separated so they aren't taking sunlight from other vegetables.

In the foreground bed (5.5ft x 5.5ft) is asparagus, parsley, jalapenos, yellow and green sweet peppers, carrots, radishes, lettuce and green beans. To the right is 3 tomato plants (4ft x 4ft). To the left (4ft x 4ft) is where I grew garlic (which is now harvested), dill and sorrel. In back of the 3 beds is my Herb area, also cucumbers and snap peas on trellises. The dill comes up from seeding itself every year. I pull out some. The rest I use for pickles and so the butterflies can munch on it. There are various flowers throughout.

By Melissa from Lincoln Park, MI

Tip: Make Small Raised Beds from Old Tires

Small raised garden beds save energy, water, and growing medium! Looking for ways to conserve energy and not dig more than I have to, I covered a large rectangular area with old garden cloth, large pieces of corrugated cardboard, etc. I then arranged old tires, sidewalls removed with a very sharp knife, on the area in an interesting pattern. A hole cut into the garden cloth inside the tire openings completed my new raised planters.

During the winter, I use the tires for small compost piles and in the spring I will fill them up with a mixed growing medium. In between the tires I will cover the area with wood chips so it is an attractive area, and the tires will almost disappear once the plants fill them up.

Source: I adapted my earlier experience with post hole composting and added recent information about raised beds and easy growing mixes from Mel Bartholemew's new edition of "Square Foot Gardening".

By Oldgardener from Thornton, NH

Tip: Raised Beds Using Cardboard Boxes

This year I want to try raised beds in my garden, but I don't want to spend any money on purchasing the wood necessary to make them, plus all the work involved. So I came up with this idea - why not use cardboard boxes from the grocery stores? I plan on getting approximately 12 inch deep ones with sturdier sides. I think that they should hold up for one entire summer. I will let you know how I fare with them. If this works, I'll be so happy!

By annelaundrie from Green Bay, WI

Tip: Making Raised Beds with Styrofoam

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. Its insulating capacity, helps to keep the earth cool. The first picture was taken before the topsoil was added. The second picture, taken a few days ago, shows the results of our Mother's Day planting date.

We are about to start picking squash and tomatoes... at least for fried green tomatoes. :)

002garden.jpg

001garden.jpg

By Harlean from Arkansas

Tip: Urbanite Raised Garden Beds

Urbanite Raised Garden Beds

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". Hmmmm...

So here's the tip. I came into a good quantity of used, busted up concrete rubble. Trash, really. But looking at the unfinished (bumpy, rocky and not smoothed) side of the pieces of rubble, I thought to myself that I could just turn them rough-side-up and use them like stones (which we have a scarcity of in these parts) and build some nice planting beds out of them.

We stacked the first layer how we liked it, then laid out the second course. After mixing concrete (I'm sure mortar mix would be as good or better, but plain ol' Sakrete from Home Depot was cheap), we added wet concrete to the joints, and buttered the top of the bottom rocks with it before laying the second course on and filling in the joints again. It's a good idea to let it have a day or two to dry before you fill and plant them. My husband thought I was nuts before he saw the semi-finished project. Now he's a concrete rubble, excuse me, "Urbanite" fanatic and helps me haul it home by the truckload.

We are lucky enough to have our small town bring us all the leaves that they sweep up, which we compost, and so we also filled the beds for free with black compost.

Sometimes one can even find someone tearing out a sidewalk or some such thing that will happily deliver it to your garden for free to save themselves a dump fee to dispose of it at a landfill.

It works great and is VERY permanent!

By

Tip: Building Wheelchair Accessible Raised Beds

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.

I have perennial plants only, not vegetables. It is necessary to closely monitor the height of the plants because the beds are already three feet off the ground, so yarrow for instance, would grow taller than the house if planted here! I have saved the compost only for the bed that will host strawberries and I put chicken wire only in the areas I have spring bulbs. I am extremely happy with them!

By Cheryl from upstate NY

Tip: Turn Lawn Into Garden With Plastic

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. Then, fill it with compost or manure. You have a garden without weeds or grass for years. Add more compost as needed every year. I get manure from Lowe's in 40 pound bags, I have a garden all the year, I also make flower beds the same way.

By Kathleen from Dothan, AL

Tip: Using Straw Bales For Gardening

Straw Bales For GardeningThis 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. I have done this type of gardening for the past 3 years and had very good results.

You start with Straw bales (not hay) DO NOT cut the strings on the bales. Start with a 2 in layer of organic fertilizer and a 4 inch layer of top soil, pat it all down and try to work it into the straw a little bit, then you plant like you would a regular garden. You do need to water a little more. I use a soaker hose about 30 minutes a day during the hot season. You can also plant marigolds into the sides of the bales to keep away pests.

After a couple of years you will need new bales, the old straw is now starting to degrade and compost so is good for your flower beds or compost it into a regular garden.

By Kalene from Oregon City, Oregon

Tip: Making Angled And Tiered Planters

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. In the center of the second level, make the planter 5 1/2 feet wide and long. The third level is 3 feet wide and long. If possible make a second planter on the opposite angle from the house. The angles makes the grounds look bigger.

On each level, plant shrubs and flowers. Keep the planters in clean shape and put a nice ground cover like bark mulch thinly to keep it fresh. Then in the back, add some rectangular beds to plant vegetables. Loosely behind them, plant corn and potatoes. For a delightful addition, add dry flower seeds and miniature gourds. Then add berry bushes.

By Bev from Chilliwack

Article: Creating Raised Beds

Easy Raised BedIf 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.

Small Spaces with Big Advantages

Once built, raised beds don't compact as easy as conventional garden beds so they are easy to work by hand and never require tilling. In the spring, they warm up more quickly than regular garden soil, which is a real advantage for cold climate gardeners. Pests can be spot treated and fertilizers applied only where you need them, saving time, money and resources. Beds built tall enough reduce attack and damage by moles, rabbits and other small animals. If your building beds from the ground up, you can experiment with soils and plants not normally suited to your soil.

Building Your Beds

Raised beds easily adapt to any site and can be constructed in any size or shape-triangles, rectangles-even arches. The most important consideration is to construct beds to a height and width comfortable for working. The taller the bed, the more materials and dirt you'll need to construct it. Construct the beds to a width that allows you to reach halfway across them from each side. Most people can easily reach across 3 feet so a six-foot bed works well.

Three Easy Options

There are several ways to construct raised beds, but before you begin, make sure to remove any weeds or sod from the site you select. It can be helpful to place a barrier like plastic landscape edging around the inside perimeter of the bed to prevent grass from encroaching in the future.

Mounding:

To create raised beds from already existing beds, simply loosen up the soil and heap compost and other organic matter on top. Rake it all together to create a mound. If your soil is poor add in some purchased topsoil and amend it as needed.

Tilling and Hilling:

Till up your garden site to a depth of 6-8 inches. Mark off areas designated for raised beds with rope or stakes, making sure to leave space for pathways. Now dig down the pathway areas and use that dirt to mound up the beds. If you live in a dry, windy climate, try creating sunken beds-beds dug down lower than the pathways. These beds will protect seedlings from wind and hold on to moisture more efficiently.

Bag 'O Soil Method:

This is a really fast and easy way to make raised beds. Purchase a large bag of topsoil (50lb bags work great) and lay it out flat and unopened in the area you've prepared for your beds. With a sharp knife or scissors, cut open and removed the topside of the plastic bag. Mix in a little compost and you have a ready-made bed for planting! Leave the bottom portion of the plastic bag in place to kill off any weeds. Punch a few holes in it for drainage, and simply remove it at the end of the season to prepare for next years crops. Easy!

Choosing Materials for Framing

Bricks, rocks and stone pavers all work well for framing raised beds. Wood works well, but will eventually rot. Cedar and redwood are naturally less resistant to rotting than most other wood and will hold up the longest. Pressure-treated or chemically treated woods are rot resistant, but should not be used around beds containing food crops because their arsenic based toxins may leach into the soil. Old railroad ties are also suitable, but newer ties may leach creosote, which is harmful to plants.

No matter what method you choose to build them, or the shape or materials you use to frame them, raised bed gardening offers you space and crop versatility in a minimal amount of space.

By Ellen Brown

Tip: Tires for Raised Beds

If you can get hold of some old car tyres, stack them up (whatever height is comfortable for you). 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.

Source: I found the idea in a gardening magazine years ago

By Jan from Grantham. UK

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Questions

Here are questions related to Building Raised Beds.

Question: Raised Bed Gardening

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

Question: Using Straw on Bottom of Raised Garden Bed

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.


Most Recent Answer

By Carol [3]11/05/2013

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.

Question: Making a Raised Veggie Bed from an Old Fridge

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


Most Recent Answer

By Tapestry Lady [2]10/25/2011

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!

Question: Inexpensive Raised Beds

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


Most Recent Answer

By gail [6]04/12/2011

Hi April, we were lucky enough to have old rainwater tanks on our farm that were rusted out on the bottom. My husband cuts off the top and bottom, then cut them in two, he puts poly pipe slit down the middle and attaches it to the rough edges with cable ties after drilling hole all around the edge. All my beds are raised now the more tanks we find the better.Hope you have these galvanized tanks in the USA like we have here in Australia. Happy hunting gail

RE: Inexpensive Raised Beds

Question: Economical Edging for Raised Garden Beds

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


Most Recent Answer

By Eileen M. [54]01/11/2011

I have used 8x8x16 cinder blocks as the edging for my raised beds. I do "nail" them down with rebar so they don't shift. If you get a sale, they aren't too expensive, or check around colleges when school gets out and pick 'em up for free when the students leave them behind.

Question: Raised Beds Made With Rocks

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.


Most Recent Answer

By Laura Meller [6]02/13/2009

I have a small hand book, stone gardens. You are more than welcome to it. Let me know, I will mail it to you.

Question: Recommendations for Platform Beds

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


Most Recent Answer

By mara [4]06/25/2010

babbles5,
We'd love to see photos of the furniture you've crafted. :)
Marz

Photos

Below are photos related to this guide.

Raised Veggie Garden

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. Then I build a 4x6 foot box. I have 12 tomatoes, 10 potatoes, strawberries, corn, squash, watermelons, sweet peas, onions and cucumbers. There is also one hanging tomato I wanted to try.

The potatoes are in Eggo boxes lined with garbage bags. The white cylinder is an old window shade to encase the tomatoes. Trying to keep the birds and squirrels out. The silver metal tub is the inside of an old washing machine.

By Leonard the Bull from Moorpark, CA

Raised Garden Bed

I upgraded my boxes this year, bigger and taller.

By Melissa

Photo of raised bed made with wood.

Archives

Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

Archive: Tires for Raised Beds

Use old tires painted and stacked two deep for raised beds.

By Wakaliz


RE: Tires for Raised Beds

tyres can be used quite successfully. It has been said that tyres leach cadmium, not sure about the amounts or which foods are most affected. I have used tyres for potatoes for the last 5 years or so. I find them good from the point of view that I always know where the plants are and also for late crops when it is possible to protect the potatoes from the frosts, to a degree anyway. Not so good in the heat of summer as they dry out very quickly and crops such as potatoes can cook during very hot weather. We are just using some tyres to create steps/ somewhere to put stones and clay and will try planting heat loving herbs such as thyme into the tyres. Hopefully it will work well. I also find that we get a good gathering of snails inside the rim of the tyre. (07/08/2005)

By

Archive: Inexpensive Raised Beds

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2x8's make great walls for raised beds.
2x8's make great walls for raised beds.
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Frugal Ways To Make Raised Garden Beds

There are several inexpensive materials you can use to construct raised beds, among them, 4" landscape timbers or 2"x12" boards. Avoid wood that has been treated. Untreated woods like redwood, cypress or cedar will last longer than most other woods, but without the worries of chemical leeching. Concrete blocks, plastic landscaping edging, corrugated sheet metal or stones work well, too. If you live near a rural area, you can offer to "rock pick" an area of a farmer's field before it's planted. Most farmers will be more than happy to have the help.

Also keep in mind that beds at a height of 3 ft will be both wheel chair accessible, and accessible when standing. For an easy reach from all sides, keep the beds no more than 6 feet across (most people have about a 3 foot reach) or keep a walkway in the center.

By Ellen Brown
http://www.sustainable-media.com

Additional tips on raised beds from our ThriftyFun community:

Supplies for Raised Beds

My husband and I just put in some raised beds this year and we used (3) 2x6x8's. He cut one in half for the ends and used (3) 3" screws in each to hold them together, making a frame. We used (14) 40lb. bags of top soil and (3) 40lb. of cow manure, and it filled the frame up nicely. We built one for each of the vegetables we were going to plant.

By Melissa1968

Recycle Wood From Skids

One idea would be to ask around at Home Depot, etc for old skids (wood pallets). Take them apart and use the wood. For example, use three slats for height, use one slat to keep them together.

By Pat

Red Logs Raised Beds

We made two, one for the front yard and one for the back for our roses. We went to Home Depot (or you can find them at Lowe's, but Home Depot has a better selection) and bought the 8' red logs. They're about $2.50 each and we used 4-5 for each planter. We used three high for the length of the planter and cut the other ones down for how wide we wanted the planter to come out.

We did ours against the block fencing but, if you wanted a completely free standing one, just do the same on both sides. To secure the logs, we drilled holes through them on each end and in the middle and trimmed down rebar and hammered through the logs into the ground.

My roses are doing wonderful in the planter and you can just mix some dirt and fertilizer in it. Also a tip is next time you go to Starbucks, they have a box or basket that has used coffee grounds to amend your soil.

By Allison

Recycled Materials

Keep your eyes open for recycled materials to use to make raised beds. Constructions sites will sometimes have a free pile, be sure to ask the foreman if they have any lumber to give away (don't just take it). Stay on the look out for materials on Freecycle, Craigslist and at garage sales.

More Reading


RE: Inexpensive Raised Beds

When we first started building raised beds we used simple cherry timbers (stacked three high) and long nails, and later pipe (to hold them together). Those worked nicely for about three to four years before starting to rot out. We're in our third house now and have moved on to a more permanent raised bed solution (cinderblock). You've gotten a lot of good suggestions. I hope you find something that works for you. (05/30/2007)

By Anonymous

Archive: Inexpensive Raised Beds

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Inexpensive Raised Beds
*** Here's a compact raised bed with rich soil that has been "built" over 8 years of composting. The bed is made of pine logs felled for fire protection. The frame holds wire to keep the deer out. The gardener is celebrating the lovely soil that has been developed. The hat is a rhubarb leaf.

By Wyncia from Boulder, CO


RE: Inexpensive Raised Beds

I think I will try that in my yard. I am recycling everything in my garden this year, margarine bowls, felled branches, large rocks painted white, but I might change it to Red, White, and Blue; seeds from tomatoes and watermelons and etc. When I go to restaurants I keep the seeds and plant them later. I recycled venetian blinds for plant markers. Thanks for the tip. (06/18/2009)

By Robyn Fed

Archive: Raised Garden Bed

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

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Archive: Inexpensive Raised Beds

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?

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