To build inexpensive raised garden beds you need free or cheap building materials. Once obtained, it’ll be your own free labor to construct them. Look around your backyard, in your garden shed, and in your closets – you may already have some suitable materials. It could be leftover wood, bricks, plastic, cement or cement boards, cinder blocks, or landscape lumber. Oh! – and don’t forget about your plastic IKEA bags. Through my research, I’ve determined that the cheapest way to make raised beds is to DIY them from free pallets and plastic crates. My top tip, in this regard, is to check with your local produce stores if they have any available. But before you do that, it’s also helpful to get some ideas about what other on a budget DIYers have done, so let’s jump right in.
15 INEXPENSIVE IDEAS
1. Build the Cheapest Raised Beds Using Free Pallets
As mentioned, pallets are one of the best and most inexpensive options for building simple raised beds. Indeed, there are plenty of places like home depot and hardware stores where you can get them for free. Or alternatively, you can purchase them for a minimal price. And when it comes to constructing your beds, you also have lots of options for styling them – from simple box designs like the one above to more complex aesthetics like the ones we’ll look at below.
This conveniently elevated raised garden bed is made of pallets and finished with a gorgeous top board frame, amplifying its overall look and feel. The designer has also used more than one aspect of each pallet by filling the cavities with flower planters. Overall, this fantastic design looks much more expensive than it actually is. And it won’t take more than a few hours to build.
This unique raised planter bed is made with upcycled euro pallets that have been sanded and painted, giving them a fresh aesthetic. It has a slightly more modern look than our other two designs, right down to the aluminum planter pots. Notice how they made DIY aluminum inserts that are perfect for growing herbs. No space is wasted in this bed. A set-up like this can also be ideal for a small vegetable garden in your backyard.
2. Use Free Plastic Crates
Image credit: Simplify Organize
We all know how important it is to recycle plastic. Therefore, reusing plastic crates (which are often just disposed of, anyway) is a stellar idea for affordable raised garden beds and requires minimal effort to boot. All you need to do is arrange them in a way that suits you and fill them in with soil and the plants of your choice. Plastic crates are also useful for your vegetable bed ideas, as you can include climbing frames like in the example above, or even move them easily when the season changes.
3. Repurpose IKEA Plastic Bags
Image credit: Ikea Hackers
As far as inexpensive ideas for raised garden beds go, this has to be one of my favorites. IKEA bags are tough and durable, making them an excellent option for use as planters. All that is required from you in terms of labor is to fill them with soil and arrange them as you please. Best of all, they’re porous, which means your plants will have an adequate drainage system.
If you don’t have a supply of IKEA bags lying around, you can DIY them with a little bit of canvas plastic and an overlocker sewing machine. This is a budget-friendly (and environmentally friendly) option that is quick and easy to pull off and has a charming rustic appearance. I especially like the turned-down rims of the bags in this example.
4. Create Homemade Garden Beds Using Twigs Salvaged from Pruning
If you’re after a medieval-style garden filled with fragrant herbs and vegetables, a raised wooden bed is the way to go. This elevated planter is surrounded by handmade woven willow and is the perfect complement to the kitchen garden of an old country house.
Here’s another example of a wood-woven bed with young potatoes growing in charming uniform rows. Ideally, the twig design will also deter unwanted critters from exploring your veggies!
If you live in the countryside, you likely have access to the woods and tree species like willow, poplar, Salix, and shadbush. Alternatively, you may live near an orchard with apple or cherry fruit trees. What’s great about this is that you can salvage twigs and boughs from the annual pruning season and upcycle them for your raised garden beds. It may take a bit of patience and time to weave your planter supports from leftover wood, but it’s well worth it for the breathtaking aesthetic these types of beds provide.
5. Build Quick and Easy DIY Beds from Leftover Plywood
Plywood is right up there with the best inexpensive raised garden bed materials, and many DIY enthusiasts already have leftover pieces lying around. Plywood planter beds are easy to construct, requiring only basic carpentry knowledge and a little bit of time. However, be warned that plywood tends to retain dampness, so this idea works better in climates where it doesn’t rain much. But hey, what’s cheap is cheap, you cannot expect a plywood bed last more than a couple of seasons.
6. DIY Inexpensive Garden Beds from Leftover Cement Boards
If you don’t already know, cement boards are used by contractors for building shower enclosures and the like. So, if you’ve recently remodeled and you happen to have some cement boards left over, why not repurpose them for raised garden beds? It’s an affordable, easy, and sturdy option and doesn’t take much time to set up.
7. Use Cheap Cinder Blocks or Caps
Image credit: This House of Dreams
Cinder blocks are cheap, and many people already have them lying around in their backyards. What we love about them is that they serve a dual purpose of creating a “frame” or enclosure for your raised garden bed while also housing convenient cavities that can double up as planters. This veggie garden and spring flower combo is just gorgeous. See more cinder block garden ideas.
An alternative option to cinder blocks is cinder block caps (or concrete cap blocks). They are cheaper, take less space, and you require less to build a large bed. They’re also easy to work with and can be joined or kept in place with some outdoor adhesive.
8. Stack Up Rocks to Form a Garden Bed
If you’re after a rustic, all-natural look, consider stacking rocks to form a raised garden bed. The hardest part of this undertaking is sourcing flattish rocks, but from there on out, it’s just a case of stacking them in the form you like. What’s nice about this idea is that you aren’t restricted to a specific shape and can build both angular and curved beds.
You’re also not limited to a specific height, as you can have shallow garden beds or really tall ones depending on how high you stack your rocks.
You can also play with different colors and sizes of rock to add visual interest. Ultimately, it depends on the materials you have available.
If you’re worried about durability, practice some basic masonry techniques by applying cement to hold your rocks together. This example with blooming pink, orange, and yellow Portulaca grandiflora flowers is the ultimate depiction of spring and an incredibly charming backyard feature.
Raised rock garden beds built up with cement are also an affordable and convenient option for less traditional yards that don’t have lawn and soil access. This designer has conquered their no-garden problem by investing in these affordable and convenient materials and building sturdy beds that suit the concrete landscape.
9. Use Leftover Bricks
You can build plenty of inexpensive raised flower bed ideas with bricks left over from other DIY projects. A simple brick planter can be low and small or taller and broader – it really depends on your space and what you like. I love brick beds for smaller landscapes, like this flowery bed in an English town garden.
If you’re feeling inventive, bricks can also be stacked in interesting and unique patterns, like this circular red brick flowerbed with three different planting tiers.
But for those who enjoy uniformity and symmetry, there’s nothing wrong with these beautiful modern vegetable planters made of red bricks and surrounded by river rocks. Bricks are an excellent material for retaining heat and moisture, which makes them perfect for growing veggies or fruits like strawberries.
Shallow garden beds are great for leafy greens, and we especially love how these planters are topped off with concrete capstone. This broadens your horizons in terms of how complex you can go with sheltering your veggies from pests and inclement weather.
10. Build Beautiful Garden Beds from Leftover Pavers
It’s a shame to throw away leftover pavers when they can easily be repurposed for other functions. With some cement and ingenuity, you can DIY a creative and good-looking flower bed like the one in this example. Flat pavers are also fantastic for building stacked raised garden beds.
11. Use Logs for Inexpensive Raised Beds
We know that logs are always useful for DIY projects, but have you ever considered using them for garden beds? This simple and well-supported design is easy to construct, although it will require an inside lining to prevent your soil from spilling out. If logs are easily obtainable, it’s also a great way to build a larger raised bed without breaking the bank.
Have you recently had an old tree taken down in your backyard? Logs could form any size or shape of a garden bed and look beautiful and earthy. In keeping with the natural aesthetic of this material, I love the idea of arranging log roundels in a circular shape.
12. Repurpose Railroad Ties or Railway Sleepers
Another exceptional and unique idea for raised garden beds is to make them from wood boards cut from railroad ties or railway sleepers. These are generally sold in lumber yards for low prices or, occasionally, given away for free.
13. Use Landscape Timbers as Pressure-treated Boards Alternative
If you want a sturdy bed, use landscape timbers. Landscape timbers are cheaper than 6x6x8 pressure-treated lumber but look so much better. This material is excellent for creating planters. You could pre-drill holes and use rebars to hold the timber in place.
With landscape timber, you’re not limited to a specific planter size, as there are many ways to arrange your logs to keep them steady. Hexagonal shapes versus rectangular shapes are a nice departure from the norm – easily achievable with a little planning and clever design.
Landscape timber can also be painted. I mean – just look at this festive red flower bed. It’s perfect for a smaller but cheerful space as it stands out with a pop of color.
14. Save on Wood by Using Polyethylene Landscape Fabric
Suppose you really want a raised garden bed but don’t have an endless supply of material. In that case, you can fill in the gaps between wood boards, for example, with affordable polyethylene landscaping fabric. This also helps retain moisture and keeps things neat.
15. Form Your Own Concrete Bed
Raised concrete garden beds can easily be DIYed with leftover concrete or a few cheap bags from the hardware store. All you need to do is use junk wood to build a quick mold and pour concrete into it. The bed doesn’t have to be perfect or tall, but it will serve you forever. This example shows how a simple wooden framework allows you to create an L-shaped sectioned concrete flower bed.
16. Repurpose Throw Away Bamboo Trunks
When living in California, I had bamboo growing on my lot. Bamboo grows so fast that I often had to cut mature trees and dispose of them. In retrospect, a better way would be to recycle those trunks for raised garden beds. You can cut the long trunks into short pieces, sharpen their ends and hammer them into garden soil to make beds similar to the ones shown in the image above.
17. Use Gabion Crates with Locally Sourced Stones
Last but not least, a homemade raised garden bed idea we love is this clever design incorporating gabion cages filled with locally sourced stones. The only expense you need to incur is the purchase of the cages themselves, which are affordable. Gabions are ideal for retaining soil while still allowing for moisture drainage and air circulation – ideal for summer flowers.