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Frugal Gardening: Great ideas for Making Cheap Raised Garden Beds

By Edited May 31, 2014 1 4

Protect your back

After gardening for years our age has affected and deteriorated our backs, therefore we decided to change our tactics on how to do our gardening. As this has been more successful than we expected I am going to share some of these ideas I am using and other friends have shown us work successfully.

Raised bed gardening will save you money once you have established the beds and it will save you time and back aches. It will  give you more room for planting than you realize by not needing paths in between. If you have limited space to plant a vegetable garden then a raised bed will definitely be more beneficial for your yard.

A raised garden bed, need not cost as much as you think. If you are the handy type of person, you can create a raised garden out of a number of products. 

One simple and cheap idea is using old tires, stack two on top of one another and fill with straw. Then plant your potatoes under a few layers of straw.

Ideas for creating a raised garden bed

Recycle objects in your yard

Timber Raised Garden Bed- Old railways sleepers make great garden beds.  Go to a second-hand timber yard and buy some cheap timbers to make one.

How to make from Timber - Cut four Timbers for the corners, about 7-8 cm square by at least 30 cm long. The side timbers will depend on the type and size of timbers you buy and the shape either square or oblong.  Whatever timbers you buy you have to cut to the required length then nail onto the outside of the corner timbers.

Brick Raised Garden Bed – Go to the demolishing yards and rouse up enough bricks to make a square or oblong bed. The size of the bricks will decide whether you need to concrete them in place.  Large bricks should hold their place without.  I would concrete the normal house bricks in place with concrete to create a firm wall.

Old Refrigerators – These are brilliant for raised garden beds as they are high off the ground, and save you bending. Have a refrigeration technician remove all the electrics and gas before attempting to dismantle. Remove the door, shelves and any other pieces inside.  Drill a few holes in the back of the fridge for drainage and lay on its back in best sunny place. Then use the same as any other garden bed.

Frugal Gardening: Old Fridge and Bird Bath

Old Chester Drawer Garden bed – Solid wooden (not malamute or similar) drawers are great to use for garden beds. Stagger these in open place in the original cupboard. Then again, you could fix these to a wall, or rest on bricks to keep them off the ground.

Old pallet flat garden bed – Old pallets make great garden beds, in a variety of creative ways. I have seen some mounted on the walls of the house or hide an old fence. Pull them apart and use the timbers to create larger garden beds. 

You will see these pallets all over the world and many of them are free. Although, I should warn you not to steal them, always ask permission before removing from a private yard. You can also hang these on walls, to hide an otherwise poor wall. The worst part is removing the nails out of the timbers. Some saws will cut straight through the nails, remember this is dangerous so always wear safety gear.

Make a corrugated Raised garden

Use old wheelbarrows for a garden

Frugal gardening: Corrugated raised Bed


We have Capsicums, Sweet potatoes, Spring onions, Rhubarb, Bok Choy, and Potatoes in here.


Corrugated iron garden beds – If you have an old water tank that no longer holds water then the sides will make great gardens. You can make them with flat corrugated iron sheet too. These need nailing to four corner wooden supports to keep them in place.

How to make these:

We used curved and flat corrugated iron to make our raised garden bed into an oblong shape. 


  • Length of flat corrugated iron cut in half lengthwise down the middle about 60 cm high (depends on sheet width).
  • Length of curved corrugated iron cut in half lengthwise down the middle about 60cm high (depends of sheet width).
  • Coil of thin tie wire
  • Hose to go around top of the metal - we used an old piece of 90cm water reticulation hose.
  • Paint
  • Clamps
  • Screws

Building metal garden

We laid out the metal with the two curved pieces at the ends and the two straight pieces (one either side). Make sure they are level, then, we clamped the pieces together overlapping each piece. Check the levels again.  Then drill and screw each piece together.  You now have an oblong shape.

Frugal Gardening: Bolting corrugated iron together

Now comes the hard part. We cut a line down one side of the hose and fitted over the top edge of the metal. (This prevents the danger of anyone cutting him/her on the raw cut metal edge)  We then drilled holes every 8 to 10 cm around the top edge.  We used this to thread wire under and over the hose around the top to keep hose in place.  Now all you have to do is paint it and place it where you want it to stay.

We have just put a round metal frame together although we still have to put the top on this one.  As you can see in the picture, it is easy to make these and they do not need any supports at all.

Frugal Gardening: Round Raised bed Garden

This has a mixture of cow and chicken manure, straw and pea hay to break down the soil.

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Filling your new Garden

Use good soil and mulch

The filling you use is entirely up to you.  Although you want the best, soil possible to grow healthy vegetables. We ripped up old newspapers, vegetable scraps from the kitchen, old dead leaves, mulch, animal manure, (we used a bag of cow and bag of chicken manure) and fertilizers.  We layered these and turned it over with fork.  Water well.

If you prefer a simple garden then you can even fill it with straw.  Grow your potatoes between straw, lift the straw and put potatoes in, and cover with more straw.  There is no more digging or washing them, as not any soil.  What more could you want.

Now you are ready to plant those recycled vegetables that I have told you about in my other Frugal Gardening articles, on how to grow recycled onions and celery, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Conclusion: These do take a bit of time and patience to make in the beginning although the result and benefits outweigh planting vegetables into the ground. You will never have to dig up hard ground again; no more back aches and no more weeding. Therefore, you will love having a raised garden bed.

There are other uses for raised garden beds. Instead of growing vegetables, you may prefer to have flower and shrub gardens, and you can save money by growing plants from cuttings or from seeds instead of buying the expensive plants from the nurseries.

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Now that you have set up your raised garden bed you want to grow beans and peas. This stainless steel trellis will make sure you have a great support to grow those peas and beans on.


Apr 5, 2014 5:08am
There are a lot of great ideas here for a raised bed garden, and these look easy enough to make. I'm pinning this.
Apr 6, 2014 1:09am
Thanks so much ologsinquito, they certainly save a lot of back breaking work once they are established.
Apr 8, 2014 9:11am
You know i never thought about the old refrigerator but that probably would work pretty good wouldn't it. I really like the height it would provide really giving you a deep fertile soil bed to work with.

Great Article
Apr 9, 2014 12:03am
Thanks JPLarson, yes it has good depth, although you have to be sure to make adequate drainage too. You can use anything really. I am growing my ginger in polystyrene esky type things and they grow great.
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