recycled pallet wood raised garden bed woman bending over wearing stray hat overalls

40 Raised Garden Bed Ideas That Won’t Break the Budget


Raised garden beds are a great idea for most gardens. They offer many benefits compared to planting a traditional garden in the ground. Raised garden beds are a great idea for those that have back problems or for keeping out pesky critters. The one disadvantage to a raised garden bed is that you have to actually build one before you can get started with planting.

The most important element to planting in a raised garden bed is soil building, so after you take a look at these fabulous raised garden bed ideas, make sure to read the section on soil building at the bottom of this article.

What Is a Raised Garden Bed?

Before we jump into the ideas, let us first understand what a raised garden bed is and why they are so beneficial.

According to Wikipedia — “Raised-bed gardening is a form of gardening in which the soil is raised above ground level and usually enclosed in some way. Raised bed structures can be made of wood, rock, concrete, or other materials, and can be of any size or shape. The soil is usually enriched with compost.”

Benefits of a Raised Garden Bed

  • Fewer weeds
  • More useful water retention in areas that have super-sandy soil
  • More satisfactory drainage in areas with clay soils
  • Better growing space
  • No soil compaction from human feet
  • Warmer soil earlier in the season
  • Warmer soil for a more extended season
  • Soil that has essentially a neutral pH unless you add something to change it
  • Less soil erosion

Corrugated Metal

Corrugated Metal is a popular material to use for raised garden beds. It offers a great contrast between the metal and the wood frame. You can add your own personality and style into this project by painting or staining the wood frame a color that you like or matches your exterior decor.

corrugated metal wood frame garden beds raised wide angle shot trailer in background
Photo from: Annicka Weber via Instagram
Corrugated Metal Raised Bed
Photo from: Our Fairfield Home and Garden
corrugated metal raised garden bed
Photo from: My Crazy Good Life

Concrete

Concrete is a great material to work with when building a raised garden bed. It comes in a variety of different shapes you can use or you can also form concrete into whatever shape you like by mixing up your own cement and making a mold.

Cinder blocks are easily attained and can be used to outline a raised garden bed.

masonry brick cylinders used for raised garden bed
Photo from: Instructables
cement block raised garden bed cinder top soil
Photo from: isaveAtoZ
curved garden bed concrete plants planter fence
Photo from: Gardener’s World

Simple Wood

A simply built wood box may be the most common and easy design idea when it comes to building a raised garden bed. When choosing wood for your project, make sure you select cedar. Cedar is commonly used for garden beds as it is naturally rot-resistant.

simple raised garden bed light wood with L clamps garden glove shovel top soil
Photo from: The Merry Thought
raised cedar garden beds pots on each corner wide shot
Photo from: LifeImagesbyGloria via Canva

Tiered Raised Garden Beds

Take your raised garden beds to new and decorative heights by stacking them on top of each other. Adding tiers will give your garden and backyard dimension while creating garden beds that are appealing to the eye.

multi layer raised garden bed strawberries planted
Photo from: virginjavaidakaviciene via Canva
corner tiered herb garden along white fence wood boxes plants
Photo from: Decor and the Dog
tiered garden bed with trellis planters brick wall large pot
Photo from: Anika’s DIY Life

Experiment with different shapes and layouts or choose a pattern that fits within the scope of your backyard.

wood L shaped garden beds raised top soil empty
Photo from: modboxco via Instagram

Elevated Table Style Garden Beds

By using repurposing old table legs or even old tables themselves, you can build an elevated table-style garden bed. These garden beds are great for herb gardens or are popular for lettuce.

raised garden bed on legs with plants inside on top of mulch
Photo from: KenWiedemann via Canva

 

herb planter box table legs red stool chair watering can tin pail
Photo from: This Old House
old table lettuce stand raised garden bed
Photo from: Creative Green Living

Bricks

Much like the concrete cinder blocks, bricks make excellent materials for a raised garden bed. If you are making a short raised garden bed, you can stack bricks 3-4 bricks high without securing them in place with adhesive. Unsecured bricks brick can be bumped out of place by critters or intense rainfall. For increased stability, build the bed with a thickness of two bricks all the way around. If making a larger garden bed, you will want to secure them and make something a little more stable and fixated in place.

brick raised garden bed edge close up scissors
Photo from: coramueller via Canva

Recycled Pallets

Recycled pallets are a great material to use for making a raised garden bed and the best part about this material — it’s free! Companies are always trying to get rid of pallets and many times you will see them stacked up at the side of the road for trash. However, if they are on retail or manufacturing properties, it’s always wise to ask first before just helping yourself.

recycled pallet wood raised garden bed woman bending over wearing stray hat overalls
Photo from: SimonSkafar via Canva

You can dismantle a pallet and be left with perfect size boards to build a raised garden bed. Experiment with different styles and shapes for your raised garden beds.

pallet planter raised standing on grass triangle shape
Photo from: Instructables

I think these pyramid pallet raised garden beds are such a cool and contemporary design.

pallet raised garden beds in shapes of pryamids
Photo from: Foxy Folksy

You don’t have to dismantle the pallets either – you can use them just as they are! Take a look at this idea:

raised garden bed old pallet painted yellow chalkboard paint chalk writing herbs
Photo from: OKSANA AKSENOVA via Getty Images

Paint your pallet a bright and fun color and also paint on some chalkboard paint so that you can mark off what you have planted. This is a great idea for a herb garden! No more forgetting where all your favorite herbs are!

Repurpose Something Old

Not everything has to be built brand new. If you have an old dresser that’s destined for the dump why not use it in the garden? I love the idea of using the drawers of an old dresser for a succulent garden.

side by side dresser photo garden bed drawers closed open with succulents in them mirror
Photo from: Shelterness

Be careful with this one, though — you want to make sure that your dresser is not in an area where it will get too weather-worn as most interior furniture is not built to withstand the outdoor weather.

Landscaping Timbers

Landscaping timbers are a wonderful material to use for a raised garden bed as they are made to go outside in the garden anyway. Typically used for edging a garden, these timbers can be stacked to form a raised garden bed.

landscaping timbers raised garden bed on grass fresh soil few plants
Photo from: Remove and Replace

Add-In a Bench

If you’re going to make a raised garden bed, you might as well add in a place to sit. A raised garden bed with a built-in bench will provide a place to sit as you are picking weeds and provides a bit of decor to a plain cedar box raised garden bed.

raised garden bed box with benches attached chair and table bistro set in background
Photo from: Bonnie Plants
wooden benches with garden beds built in on grass
Photo from: RailwaySleepers.com

Enclose Your Raised Garden Bed

If animals are particularly pesky in your area, you might consider a raised garden bed that is enclosed. You can build a variety of different frames and enclosures around your garden bed. Starting at very elaborate working all the way down to something as simple as just wrapping the box in plain metal fencing.

raised garden bed with enclosure chicken wire
Photo from: The Home Depot
raised garden beds wrapped in metal chicken wire fencing
Photo from: Thrift Diving
raised garden beds with frames covered in chicken wire
Photo from: Hydrangea Treehouse

Simple Stand

Raised garden beds aren’t always massive. Sometimes a nice little two-tiered plant stand is all you need. Something like this is perfect for a tiny herb garden — great for people who live in apartments or are short on backyard space. 

raised garden bed stand two tier grass in background
Photo from: Growing The Home Garden

Slick and Trendy

Raised garden beds don’t have to be just boring wood. Try adding in a trending design or something simplistic that elevates the style of your backyard. I like this simple black striping on this light wood cedar. It adds just a little style without going overboard.

black and wood striped raised garden bed with top soil
Photo from: Delia Creates

Hoop Garden Bed

A hoop house is a type of garden bed cover that has a “hoop” shape. The supports are bent around the top of the raised garden bed, creating a dome-like space inside. This shape holds up the cover material, be it plastic, netting, or fabric.

hoop garden bed covered white fabric
Photo from: Apartment Therapy
hoop wire garden bed chicken wire
Photo from: hamaksatcher_garden via Instagram

Self-Watering Veggie Table

Great for lettuce, a self-watering veggie table is ideal for those that don’t have the space to plant a garden or maybe don’t have the right soil. This is a system where you allow water at the bottom of the container to be drawn up to the roots as they need it. There is an overflow hole in the side of the container, near the top of the water reservoir that overflows when the water reaches the top.

self watering veggie table plants plastic containers wood
Photo from: Instructables

Straw Raised Garden Bed

A straw bale can make a fantastic growing medium, and a straw bale garden is a raised bed in which the potting soil, compost, and plants are all housed inside the straw bale. Straw bale gardening is a great way to grow herbs and vegetables, and can also be used to grow ornamental plants.

straw raised bed garden hay bales with plants in middle
Photo from: Bonnie Plants

Trellis Raised Garden Bed

If you are planting claiming plants, add a trellis to your raised garden bed. I like this idea of bending cattle panel over to another raised garden box.

trellis curved garden bed wooden boxes brick wall background
Photo from: Weed’em and Reap

Water Trough

If you can get your hands on an old water trough, they make great raised garden beds. This is great for the homeowner that may not want to build or DIY something. Just place and fill. This is an easy but extremely pretty option!

water trough garden beds copper in large garden gravel
Photo from: Gardenista

Add in Dividers

For hard-to-manage plants and veggies, add dividers into your raised garden bed. This will help you keep your garden organized.

raised garden bed dividers on grass
Photo from: Almanac

The Space Saver

If you’re tight on space, make sure you use the space under a raised garden bed. Here’s a neat idea of making a raised garden bed with storage underneath for trash containers. This also provides a pretty space to store items that aren’t so pretty.

raised garden bed above trash containers concrete patio with houses in background
Photo from: Jennifers DIY home & garden! via Instagram

Get Creative with Shapes

Ditch the traditional rectangular shape of a raised garden bed and go for something a little more modern. Try making a raised garden bed in the shape of a hexagon to add a little dimension to your backyard.

hexagon raised garden bed on mulch
Photo from: Kris Wong via Getty Images

Think Resourceful

Work with what you have. If you want to make a raised garden bed as inexpensive as possible, look around your home and see what you can come up with. Even an old bathtub makes a wonderful raised garden bed!

repurposed bath tub filled with plants raised garden bed
Photo from: AZMANL via Getty Images

Soil Building

Building a raised garden bed is really the way to go, especially if you live in an area where the soil has clay, rocks, or sand. In building a raised garden bed, you control the soil and its qualities.

The key to having great soil is to build it in layers, because filling a whole garden bed with rich soil can be quite costly. Typically raised garden beds are 18” – 24” deep, but the key is to layer different materials into your raised beds, conserving the top 12” for your more expensive, high-quality soil.

Important: All of your layering materials need to be organic and toxin/petroleum-free.

Bottom Layer: Wood, newspaper, or manure. The bottom layer or base layer will decompose over time, but it’s important to remember how deep your layers are so you do not disturb this layer when digging in the soil. For this bottom layer, you can lay a thin layer of small twigs, branches, or bark at the bottom of your raised bed.

Less expensive soil: Add in a less expensive soil like old potting soil. Make sure that this old soil doesn’t have any weeds in it. Also, be careful not to use old potting soil that is moldy or has a pest infestation. You can also add in some leaf mold, compost from your pile, and grass clippings.

High-quality soil: Save the best for last! Most raised bed plants need 6-12” of good quality soil, so aim for that depth when adding in the good stuff.  Fill your bed to within an inch under the top edge of the bed. Remember that soil will settle in more as you water.

Best Tips for Building a Raised Garden Bed

Before you start building, there are four tips to consider:

  1. Plan where you want to place your raised garden beds. Typically, you want an area with the most sun — unless, of course, you’re going to plant plants that require shade.
  2. Plan how many raised garden beds you’ll need. If cost is an issue, one big bed is more cost-effective than several smaller beds. Depending on what you’re going to plant, undersized beds might be a better idea, though. Group similar plants and companion plants in the same bed.
  3. Plan the size of your raised garden bed. Beds built larger than three feet wide are harder to manage, but raised garden beds can be as long as you want them to be.
  4. Plan the material you’re using. Wood is a common choice; it’s inexpensive, durable, and light. If cost is a big issue, you can even recycle wood from pallets. If you need a more permanent solution, concrete is always a good choice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do I put on the bottom of a raised garden bed?

Organic materials such as straw, grass clippings, wood chips, and leaves are great for filling a raised garden bed.  You may also want to place cardboard or any other suitable weed barrier material over this organic layer and weigh it down with a few bricks or pegs.

How deep should a raised bed garden be?

A raised bed does not have to be very deep to be effective. Eight to 12 inches is usually sufficient. If drainage is a concern, or if the plants you are growing favor drier soil, the bed could be more elevated and filled with a porous growing medium. Vegetable beds should be 12 to 18 inches deep.

What is the cheapest way to make raised beds?

Work with what you got! Be creative and resourceful and take a look around your home to see if you have anything readily available to make a raised garden bed. If you don’t have anything, using recycled pallets is also an option. If you do have to buy building materials, see if there are any discount building supply places in your area, like a Habitat for Humanity Restore.

In most cases, cedar is the best wood to use for garden beds because cedar is naturally rot-resistant. Western red cedar is commonly used, but white cedar, yellow cedar, and juniper are also high-quality choices for outdoor construction projects.

Should I line my raised garden bed with plastic?

Plastic prevents drainage and could drown your plants’ roots so it should be avoided. If you have a weed or pest situation, consider installing a combination of metal mesh and fabric or hardware cloth and cardboard to get both benefits at once.

Do you need drainage holes in a raised garden bed?

Having raised beds with good drainage is crucial. Not only will it prevent overwatering or underwatering your plants, but it can also decrease the risk of various diseases associated with water issues, like root rot.

Can I use cinder blocks for a raised garden bed?

If you want something affordable that’s not going to go anywhere, you can’t do better than cinder blocks. There are a lot of options when it comes to building a raised garden bed, and although wood is the most common choice, cinder blocks follow closely behind.

New pressure-treated wood is considered safe but it is not recommended to use pressure-treated wood where the preservatives may become an element of food. If you do decide to use pressure-treated wood, it is recommended to use an impervious liner between the wood and the soil.

Is wood or metal better for raised garden beds?

Wood will insulate your soil far better than galvanized steel, which makes wood ideal for building raised beds with cold frames for winter gardening.

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