How to start a raised bed garden for under $30…is it possible? Absolutely!
Do you want to get started gardening but only have a few bucks to put into it? No problem!
I will give you all the information you need to start your very own garden for $30 or less.
Where to start with your raised bed
First, there are some things that you need to think about before starting out on your journey. Things to consider are: where to put your new garden, how big of a garden you want, what you plan on growing, and your reasons for growing food.
When considering these things it is important to remember that each part has certain needs or criteria. For example, when deciding on the location of your new garden; you need to consider the amount of sun that location gets, where your water source is located, and is the garden going to be conveniently located for your needs.
It is also important to think about the purpose of your garden; is it to grow food for your family or grow food on a market scale in order to sell some of your produce?
Carefully considering these things will start you out on the right track for your new garden.
What to grow
When thinking about what to grow: you always want to plant things that you and your family will eat, vegetables that may be more expensive or not available in your area.
That is the best way to decide what you will grow in your backyard vegetable garden.
Related: How to Plan Your Garden
The next step in the process is to put together a list of the materials you will need so that you can start sourcing them for your project. Now, there are several ways to build a raised bed garden so you just need to pick which method is best for you and fits your budget.
Raised beds can be made out of any material you can find with some basic principles in mind. First, you want something that will hold soil above the normal ground level.
The most commonly used materials are wood, concrete blocks, and even repurposed items such as bathtubs and used agricultural water troughs.
For the purpose of this article, we use wood. You can source free or cheap local resources by searching Craigslist or local groups on Facebook. There are literally hundreds possibly thousands of people each day that give away valuable resources.
1. Used Fence
There are always a ton of people trying to give away used privacy fence panels on local groups or Craigslist. They usually offer them for free if you will come to pick them up. The panels are typically made from the single fence pickets that you can buy at your local big box store.
These panels can be easily separated and repurposed into a cheap but effective raised bed. It will last for several years and looks great when it is all finished.
The same thing is usually true of used pallets. Companies will get shipments of products and throw the pallets away, or allow the manufacturer to reuse them and even give them away for free. Pallets can be found at any number of local businesses.
These pallets like fence panels can be taken apart and repurposed into great-looking raised beds.
If you cannot find these free or cheap in your area, do not worry!
You can still build your new garden fairly inexpensively. I built 4×8 raised beds for under $20 each using brand-new timber found at my local hardware store.
Pro Tip – When disassembling a pallet, use a reciprocating saw to rip them apart. Trying to remove all of the nails will cause you to lose interest in using pallets.
I recommend building your raised beds in a simple 4’x8′ rectangle unless you are planning on placing the bed alongside a fence of some sort. If placing a raised bed along a fence, I would then change the size to a 3’x8′.
The general idea is you want to be able to reach the middle of the bed from all sides. I find that these sizes work the best and allow you to reach everything.
I recommend making your raised bed at least 12″ which will allow you to comfortably grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Every vegetable has a different root structure, some have shallow roots while others have rather deep root systems. I also prefer to double-dig my beds when I first place the raised bed in its location.
Related: How Tall Do Raised Beds Need to Be to Keep Rabbits Out?
Some assembly is required
Once you have your materials, you can assemble them as you see fit. You can use nails, screws, or even brackets to secure the pieces together.
Filling for the raised bed
Now that we have our frame assembled we can move onto the soil to fill it with. Depending on the size of your raised beds you have options on the soil. You should always check your local resources first before buying anything.
Most cities will have free or cheap compost that you can fill your raised beds with. A city that is close to me has compost available for $10 per truckload.
That is a great deal that will provide you with enough soil for all of your needs.
Of all of the things that you can do for your garden, compost is your greatest friend and the most important resource that you can add to your raised bed.
Related: How to Fill Raised Garden Beds
Let’s review where we are so far on cost, we spent $0 on the raised bed material if we used free pallets or fence panels and $0 if your city gives away free compost. As of right now, we have not spent any money on our new raised bed garden.
Once you have the bed built and filled with the soil, the hard part is done. You can relax a little and have a big glass of sweet tea. At this point, the next thing for you to do is to decide what to grow and actually pick up the seeds or plants to put in.
Plants vs Seeds
With the budget still at $30 left (depending on materials used), there is a big question left. Plant starts or seeds? This is a serious question that will take some consideration. There are a couple of things to think about when selecting between plants and seeds.
First, the cost. The cost difference between seeds and plants is a considerable one. Usually, plant starts are between $2-4 per plant or $2-3 for a six-pack of plants.
This can make buying plants unreasonable when seeds are fairly cheap. You can purchase seed packets starting at about .20 cents per pack.
The cheap seeds found at local garden centers or dollar stores are just as good as the high-priced seeds.
In my opinion, seeds are the way to go! You can grow more for less money with seeds.
Related: Starting Seeds Indoors
So, if you are looking for a cheap wooden raised bed to build you have some options when it comes to materials.