There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to wander into your garden to pick your own herbs, peppers or tomatoes to use in a homemade dinner. Knowing the ingredients came fresh and picking them with your own hands makes the meal taste even better.
Unfortunately, planting and maintaining a raised garden bed, whether it’s bursting with blooms or has neatly labeled rows of vegetables, can be expensive. Not to mention the space a proper garden can take up in a yard. Since we don’t all have a bottomless budget or a spread of open lawn at our disposal, here are five simple frugal raised garden beds that look great and won’t break the bank.
Milk Crate Garden
Not only is this a great way to save money on materials for a garden bed, but you’re also doing the planet a favor by recycling all those milk crates you have stacked up in the garage (and if you don’t have any, ask a neighbor). Use cardboard in the bottom and sides to keep the soil from spilling out if your crate has wider gaps. Otherwise, you can take advantage of crates with closely spaced gaps and allow the soil to breathe.
Uneven stacks will give your DIY recycled garden bed a more interesting look. You can also spray paint the plastic crates to match your space and style. If you don’t have these crates lying around, check your internet retailer for 16-quart milk crates. You can usually buy them for under $10 and you can even skip the paint and pick your favorite color.
As an added bonus, the finished beds are compact enough to transport if you need to move them around. Since they’re on the smaller side, they’re great for rooftop gardens or apartments with little outdoor space.
Woven Basket Beds
These woven garden baskets may take a more advanced DIY-er’s touch, but if you live near a forested area you could create the bed for free. If you like a more natural look (these basket-like beds almost blend into the background) start gathering thin but sturdy sticks. This bed is permanent, so you’ll need to make sure you have a safe spot for it in your yard.
You can collect your own materials for this basic bed. Willow works best but you can use anything you find that’s a good length and has a bit of bend. You might also want to collect some thinner material, like bamboo or orchard clippings, to fill in any gaps and help secure one twig to the next. If you need to trim branches for this, you’ll need to do a bit of planning ahead. It’s best to do cuttings in January or February so you don’t damage the tree or bush.
To shape your bed, use wooden stakes (or thicker, sturdier sticks from your yard). Drive the stakes directly into the ground where you want the garden. Remember, whatever shape you form with the stakes will end up being the general shape of the bed. Use your willow branches to weave around the stakes.
To finish, you can braid the willow ends together or tuck them in the inside of the basket. Or leave them out for an even more natural look.
Found Material Pallet Beds
Here’s another raised garden bed you can make with supplies you or someone you know probably has taken up valuable storage space in your garage or basement. Seriously, ask around! These wooden pallets are bulky and hard to toss, you’d be surprised how many people just hang on to them hoping to re-purpose them.
If your pallets aren’t the same size, you may need to saw and sand them before nailing four pieces together. Or if you have a smaller space, you can saw two pallets in half to get the four bed walls. The look of the old wood gives these a rustic touch, but you can stain the pallets if you prefer a more polished feel.
Build-it-Yourself Pallet Beds
If you like the look of the pallet bed but don’t happen to have any lying around, you can make them yourselves with two-by-fours from the hardware store. This option requires a bit more construction (just remember: measure twice, cut once!) but it also gives you a lot more freedom with the size and the shape of the bed.
Like the other pallet bed, you can stain the wood here to suit your preference. Cut and build four pallets (two long and two short for a rectangular shape, four the same size for a square) for the walls of your garden and nail them to a raised base. If you don’t want to raise your garden bed, you can skip this step and use cardboard, simply cut the correct size and place it underneath the pallet walls. Stuff the sides with a gardening straw so your soil won’t fall out of the sides.
Modern Metal Garden
Here’s a garden bed for the serious crafter. This DIY bed is made from corrugated metal (otherwise known as tin roofing) so it has a much more urban feel to it than the typical wooden raised bed.
Secure the metal walls to treated wood posts using screws. You’ll also need to secure a base using plywood. The finished product is definitely on the bigger side, so it’s best suited for a yard with a little more space. On the plus side, this garden bed is durable and its sleek sides will keep out a lot of those pesky critters.