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Inexpensive Raised Bed Ideas

There are many thrifty, creative ways to use natural or recycled materials to make raised garden beds. This is a page about inexpensive raised beds.


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.

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 mom-from-missouri from NW MO


April 3, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

If you live in cattle country you may be able to get cattle waterers from farmers or feedlot owners. They can't use them once they have a hole, but they will hold dirt. You could raise them by putting them on 2x4's or whatever wood you have , to make them higher.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 3, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer
I don't know if this would be what you're looking for, but it's a great idea.

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

April 2, 2011

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


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 Isabel Ruiz

Inexpensive Raised Beds 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 Krystal

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 kathleen williams

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 Wyncia

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 Peggy

Inexpensive Raised Beds

I just read about haybale gardening! Try this link: (may have to cut and paste to your browser) or just Google haybale gardening! (03/26/2010)

By Teri Van Hecke

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 rach

Comment Was this helpful? 1

March 24, 2010

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


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

Comment Was this helpful? 1

June 18, 2009

2x8's make great walls for raised beds.

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

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 Melissa Minerd

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


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 Carole

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