A raised garden bed is a great way to start growing fresh vegetables and flowers right in your own backyard. They don’t require a lot of space, are easy to maintain, and a lot can be grown in just a small area. There are lots of great raised bed kits that can be purchased, but if you’re willing to put in a little bit of work and want to save some money, you can build your own fairly easy. These are several materials you can find for free or cheap around town or maybe even already have around the house to create your own raised garden bed.
Landscaping timbers can be found at any home and garden store and are very inexpensive. They are made of pressure treated wood which means they will hold up well to the elements and are resistant to rotting. They come in 8 foot lengths that only cost around $3.00. They are easy to cut to any size that you want, and you can nail or screw them together to make your garden bed sturdy. Three landscaping timbers stacked give you a depth of about 7.5 inches which is the perfect depth for growing most vegetables. An 8 ft x 8 ft raised bed will take about 9 timbers, but if you want a smaller 4ft x 4ft bed it will only take about 6 for each one that is built.
Railroad Cross Ties
If your home is anywhere near railroad tracks (many homes in the US are), you should be able to get wooden railroad cross ties for cheap or in most cases, free. The railroads replace the cross ties pretty often and in most cases just end up throwing the old ones away. Be sure to talk to the foreman of the crew replacing the ties before taking any, but most of the time they’re happy just to get rid of them. Railroad cross ties can be quite heavy, so you’ll probably need help lifting and transporting them. Stacking two of these on top of each other in a square or rectangle creates a sturdy raised garden bed, that can even be moved later on if you choose. There are certain chemicals that are used to treat the cross ties, specifically creosote, that are not suitable for organic gardens, but for the most part the weathered cross ties shouldn’t pose much of a problem with leaching anything into the soil. This is something to keep in mind depending on your desired use of the raised beds to be made.
Concrete blocks are one of the cheapest building materials available, and are highly durable making them a good choice for a raised garden bed. Unlike wood, they will never rot and you won’t have to worry about insects eating them. The concrete blocks can be stacked free-standing or they can be put together with mortar to make the raised bed even sturdier. They are not the most visually appealing material to use, but they can always be painted to fit into your landscape better. One great feature of the concrete blocks is that the two holes in the top are a perfect location to plant herbs or small flowers to create a useful border around the raised bed.
If you’re really on a tight budget a few old tires can make an awesome garden of raised beds. Tires are easy to find at gas stations, tire shops, or junkyards and usually really cheap or free. It’s best to find ones that are not steel-belted, which will allow you to be able to cut off the sidewalls easily. Tires can be found in many different sizes, from small car tires to giant tractor tires, so you can find ones that will suit your growing needs. Just cut off the sidewalls on both sides of the tires, place the tires where your want your raised bed, and them fill them with your choice of high-quality garden soil. The rubber material the tires are made from will last for many years, and is highly durable.
As you can see, building your own raised garden bed can be both cheap and easy. You’ll be able to watch your plants grow and thrive in something you created, and be rewarded with fresh veggies and flowers for years to come.