I see those $100-$200 raised garden beds for sale every year and feel mildly horrified. $100 for a few pieces of wood and some plastic corners? Yikes. I know why they keep selling though. When you are saw challenged like me, cutting wood to size seems impossible. It is easier to earn some money and pay for a kit with some nice pre-cut boards instead. Since I'm of a thrifty nature, I decided to make my own raised beds anyway. Here are a few quick and easy ways to make your own raised vegetable beds.
How to Make Wood Raised Beds
I can't saw worth a lick, but there are plenty of people out there who can, including the employees at my local hardware store. They'll give me a free cut for each piece of wood I purchase and charge a very small fee for additional cuts. A four foot by eight foot garden bed only needs one eight foot long piece of wood to be cut in half. After that, all I need to do is pick up some metal braces to support the corners and some wood screws to assemble my rectangular bed.
I've also checked the scrap pile to see if there are some four foot boards in it. Sometimes, I get lucky and there are two of them. I can buy them for less than the price of the whole board cut in half because the "scraps" are sold at a discount.
Once I have the supplies laid out in the yard, I grab my drill and my square. I can work without the square, but it helps keep everything tidy. I screw the braces into one of the long boards at the corners and then attach a short board to one of them and screw the braces to it, too. Then, I screw on the other long board. I finish up with the second short board and I have a raised bed. (You can skip the braces and just screw the four sides together without them, but you'll end up with a wobbly structure.)
How to Make a Cement Block Raised Vegetable Bed
Cement blocks make really nice raised vegetable beds and the only tools you need are the blocks, some gloves to protect your hands, a shovel, a measuring tape, a few pieces of rebar and a mallet. (The rebar and mallet are optional if you are doing a single layer of blocks like I did, but they help make the whole thing a lot more permanent. ) You can buy the blocks, but since you only need 24 for a single layer raised bed that is four feet by eight feet, I bet you can find them on Freecycle. A few people are bound to have a few left over from building house foundations.
Start by using the shovel to dig down any high spots in the ground where you're putting your bed. That way, your blocks will be nice and level when you lay them. Next, put a corner block into place. If you are putting it in a fenced area or in line with your house, it is a good idea to measure how far the block is from the fence or house, move down to the end of the area and then measure the same distance so both ends of that side are an equal distance from the house or fence. Then, it is simply a matter of filling in the space between those two blocks to make one side of the bed. I like to measure to be sure the center block is the same distance away, too.
Next, put the short side blocks into place. If you are doing an eight foot by four foot bed, you might want to measure the distance between the two sides to be sure it is eight feet at both ends.
Once the short sides are in place, add the other long side and measure across the middle to be sure you didn't end up going in a bit as you laid the blocks.
Now, you are ready for the optional step of anchoring the blocks into place. Drive a piece of rebar into one hole on each block. This will keep the blocks from shifting around very much.
After the blocks are secure, all you have to do is backfill the area with your favorite topsoil mix and start planting.
Hopefully, you'll be able to use one of these raised vegetable bed ideas to make your own budget friendly garden beds instead of buying expensive kits. Just imagine all the fun new seed packets you can buy to play around with if you only spend $25 to $30 a bed instead of $100 or more!