DIY Raised Garden Beds on a Budget

DIY raised garden bed ideas offer something to fit every budget. Consider finding materials around the house, at yard sales or hidden behind sheds as upcycling pieces into a raised garden bed.

Old shelves can easily be converted into tiered gardens for lettuces and herbs. You can leave them as-is for an authentic country aesthetic or add some pop with outdoor paint for an updated look.

1. Build the Box

Your garden can yield much more vegetables, fruits and herbs if you build raised beds. They’re easy to manage, maximize space usage and don’t disturb surrounding soil – plus there are numerous DIY options for any budget!

Consider recycling materials such as railroad ties to create raised garden beds – these affordable yet sturdy pieces give any garden an authentic charm!

Repurposing old wood pallets is another fantastic solution for growing microgreens and other shallow-rooted herbs and veggies. Just ensure any sharp nails or splinters have been removed, then staple landscape fabric around all four edges before adding your Gardenary recommended soil mix.

For optimal results, cedar raised garden beds offer the best results; however, if this material is out of your price range you can still erect them using any structurally sound wood that doesn’t contain treated or pressure-treated chemicals that might leach into your soil.

Reusing boards that you already own is another cost-cutting technique, especially 2x2s with slight warps that you have on hand. Simply cut them down to length using a circular saw before making miter cuts at their ends with a circular saw and attaching these to framing angles using 3-in screws.

Once complete, your raised bed frame should resemble this image. For an even more attractive finish, add top trim that sits flush against supporting 2x4s and completely covers angled corners of board.

This will prevent unwanted animals from burrowing beneath your new garden and adds an aesthetic finishing touch to any raised bed. As an alternative, rocks or other forms of free edging material could work effectively as well; just be sure that any such rocks or materials have been properly screened so they do not contain seeds or weeds that might spread into your future garden.

2. Fill the Box

If you’re on a tight budget, building a raised bed without using wood boards could be an economical alternative. Instead, try building it from concrete blocks, cinder blocks or bricks you already possess; these materials will give your garden a much more finished appearance while eliminating the need to purchase lumber or plywood.

Once your frame is built, the next step will be filling it with dirt. This will represent a substantial expense in gardening; before beginning make sure you find an economical yet nutrient-rich soil solution at a good price. Premium potting soils can often be found at garden centers or online; some even contain organic material as well as an abundance of essential vitamins that will allow plants to reach their full potential.

Use wood chips, leaves or grass clippings as a layer on the bottom of your beds for good drainage and to add richness to the soil over time – this will also keep weeds under control and ensure cool moist conditions in your beds. These options may even come free!

Some gardeners choose to add hardware cloth as an effective barrier against voles or armadillos in the area. This creates an additional barrier against their tunneling ways while keeping soil from washing away after it rains.

Consider building your raised bed out of cattle troughs, which are cheap and easily available on Amazon. These deep enough beds allow most vegetables to flourish while keeping soil cooler and moister than shallower beds. Some people like planting deer-resistant flowers such as marigolds or nasturtiums that look nice at the corners.

If you’re not quite ready to commit to an enormous raised bed, smaller options such as window-box sized raised beds with metal trellis systems might be better suited. These are available at home improvement stores and will support more shallow-rooted vegetables like microgreens and herbs.

3. Add the Soil

As part of your raised bed gardening endeavors, it’s crucial that you begin with an excellent soil mix. However, that doesn’t have to mean purchasing multiple bags from home improvement stores; use whatever resources are at hand and within your budget.

Ideal raised bed soil should contain plenty of organic matter to foster the development of beneficial microbes that create a network that feeds into plant nutrient development and delivery, yet this may be difficult with commercial bagged garden soils that tend to contain low amounts of organic matter and can contain debris such as seeds or debris from lawnmowers.

Be creative: you can easily create your own soil mixture by mixing compost, yard trimmings and kitchen scraps with existing garden soil. For optimal results, add slow-release, non-synthetic fertilizers like Milorganite to ensure raised beds contain enough nutrients for veggies and flowers throughout their growing seasons.

Repurposing wood pieces such as railroad ties to make raised beds even more cost-effective can also make the purchase even more affordable. Yard sales, antique markets and the space behind your shed may all offer opportunities to find these heavy and sturdy structures (they won’t float around or degrade quickly!). Just ensure any you purchase has been treated for termites and carpenter ants before using them in your raised beds.

Another money-saving trick is layering cardboard and mulch like leaves, straw or hay at the bottom of raised beds before filling them with soil. Over time, these materials will decompose, adding valuable organic matter. You could also try “lasagna gardening”, where layers of kitchen scraps, yard waste and cardboard provide your soil with all of its needed nutrients without the hassle of digging and tilling – Nicole Burke’s book Lasagna Gardening details this easy, cost-effective approach for creating healthy soil.

4. Add the Plants

Although you can grow vegetables in any garden bed, raised beds offer more options and make tending them simpler. A gardener can move plants around more easily in a raised bed while its walls help prevent weed growth. Furthermore, its soil is richer, making it perfect for leafy greens and herbs to flourish in. And with enough room, multiple raised beds could even be planted together in one area to reduce both weeding and watering needs.

There are a variety of low-cost ways to create a raised garden. Wooden pallets make an excellent base, which you can either leave as-is or coat in black paint for added impact in your garden. Concrete blocks from home improvement centers cost approximately $2 each while cinder blocks can help create the outline of your raised bed, especially when used as borders.

Landscape fabric makes an affordable yet equally effective border option, helping insulate the ground and suppress weeds while providing insulation against rainwater drainage. Available at home improvement stores or online retailers.

Before filling your new raised bed with soil, loosen the old soil by turning over any sod or grass clumps in the area, digging them out, then mixing in compost or other amendments to enrich it further. If large clumps prove impossible to dig out by hand, use a hoe or spade to cut into them in half and break up.

If you live near a former railroad, inquire among friends and neighbors for any leftover railroad ties, which are heavy yet durable and ideal for use as the frame for your raised bed. If these don’t exist locally, try purchasing some from online sellers; otherwise try Gardeners’ Supply’s corner kits which offer a clean look with 2″ boards for use instead.

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