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  • Writer's pictureMarie Katherine

2 Ways to Build Cheap Raised Garden Beds

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

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I’m all about saving money! And with the price of goods lately, I’m sure you are too! I’m also an avid gardener which is an excellent way to lower that grocery bill! See my post here for what I grow to save!

There are MANY ways to garden, and all of them are excellent! Garden in whatever capacity you have! Here are my 4 Tips for Building a Budget-Friendly Garden! If you have decided that raised beds are the way for you, read on to learn 2 ways to build them affordably!

Here's a picture of my slightly-chaotic, end-of-summer garden. These 4 empty beds are freshly planted with carrots.

Purchasing either cedar or treated 2x6 or 2x8s is the traditional method of building raised beds. However, today 1 piece of lumber will cost you well over $20! If you use 3 pieces of lumber to build a bed, each garden bed is costing you $60 (on the cheap end)!! I did purchase 2x8s for 4 of my beds, however, that was in 2019, the good ole days when wood was affordable.

Currently, I have 13 raised garden beds! I’ve expanded the garden every year with a few more raised beds, and I’ve used all sorts of lumber to build them! Treated lumber, cedar, old pallets! You name it, I’ve probably tried to use it! By trial and error, I believe I've found the 2 BEST and most AFFORDABLE ways to build raised beds.

If you're a bit more frugal (like myself), here are 2 ways to build beds more affordably:

1. Pallet Boards

Pallet boards are an excellent way to build raised beds cheaply. Contact a local furniture store, or a few local factories to see if they have any for free. I've often seen them listed on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for free. Some pallets are treated already to weatherproof them, but some are not. If they have not already been treated, you would need to treat them yourself to keep them from rotting.

I’ve used old pallets to build 3 of my raised beds. This method was the cheapest as I got the pallets for free from a friend. However, it was VERY labor-intensive! For just 3 raised beds, we spent a whole Saturday, hauling the pallets, breaking them apart (this was HARD work, and took most of the day), and then I laid all the boards out in the yard and sprayed them with this to weather-proof them. I purchased 2 gallons of this waterproofing spray and put several layers on each board. In short, I spent a whole day, and $60 on 3 raised garden beds. They’re 3 years old now, and holding up surprisingly well. They do not look as nice as my other beds, but that's just because pallets are made with low-quality wood.

HOWEVER, today, I would highly recommend weatherproofing wood in a much different and more affordable way! See my post here for how to weatherproof lumber for free (or very cheaply)! This method is easier, cheaper, lasts longer, and is more environmentally friendly!

2. Fence Pickets:

Here is my tried and true method of building a raised bed garden for under $20!

I use pressure-treated fence pickets! At my local hardware store, these sell for $2.25 each. Yes, they are thin pieces of lumber, so I recommended reinforcing them with stakes made with 2x2’s. See my shopping list from Lowes below!

Here's how to do it:

  1. Trim the “dog-eared” end off the fence picket. (Or don’t, if you’re lazy like me).

  2. Cut 2 pickets in half exactly. These will be the short sides.

  3. 2 pickets stacked on top of each other will be 11 inches tall, so we need 11 inches stakes to attach them to. Take your 2x2, and cut at least 4 pieces, measuring 11 inches each. If you want to make it extra sturdy, cut 6, and attach them in the middle of the long side of the beds.

  4. Lay out your bed, placing the 2x2s in the inside corners and 2 in the middle of the long sides (if you chose to add these 2 stakes). Screw everything together!

    1. I used a few decking screws and a few drywall screws, and a few loose screws that I just had laying around.

    2. See my very fancy graph for clarification. This is a top-down view.

  1. Put cardboard in the bottom, and fill it with dirt (or leaves, sticks, and compost if you’re cheap like me).

  2. Stick some seeds in it, and you’re a gardener!


And that's it! 2 ultra cheap and easy ways to build raised bed gardens! Raised bed gardening is my favorite because it's the easiest way to cut down on weeds and control soil quality. Have you tried either of these methods? Tell me about it in the comments!

Want to learn more about frugal gardening?

See my post here for how to amend poor garden soil.

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