DIY Raised Garden Beds

by Kelsey Reaves
(Austin, Texas)

Many budding gardeners choose to utilize raised garden beds for a multitude of reasons. Raised beds protect vulnerable plants from weeds, create an organized look with room to walk in between your garden rows, and provide superior drainage.

You could spend thousands of dollars buying pre-made beds, but there are several ways to make a raised bed yourself, without breaking the bank.

To create a wooden garden bed, first create an outer perimeter with pressure treated lumber.

Pressure treated lumber is best for the gardener on a budget because it is the strongest and most cost effective, but if money is not a factor for you, using cedar wood will provide a beautiful encasement guests are sure to comment upon.

You can make your garden bed as long as you’d like, however, keep in mind it should only be as wide as your arms can comfortably reach for weeding. The recommended width is 4 feet.

After you’ve cut your wood, arrange your boards in a rectangle as you plan to attach them. Assemble your boards using a power drill.

For extra support you can insert a 4x4in block, using your power drill, and 2 inch screws in each corner.


Fill the base of the garden bed with newspaper. It will stop weed and grass seed in their tracks.

Many builders recommend using fabric, but newspaper will decompose after about 18 months eliminating any weed seeds that were present at the time of planting.

It’s an eco-friendly way that is cheaper and easier to manipulate should you decide to redesign.

Atop your newspaper, fill your box with yard debris and compost.

You can kill two birds with one stone, freeing yourself of your waste and creating an environment inside your raised garden box favorable to sprouting seedlings.

Fill this box with soil and enjoy the new look of your garden.


The overall start-up costs of a wooden raised bed will be $100-$300 depending on the size. The wood and soil comprise most of cost.

Although this may seem like a large number for a DIY project, the cost of maintaining your bed throughout the years will be incredibly low.

Just refill with a top layer of new soil year after year.

The money you can save by gardening your own food will cover the cost of building in less than a year.

An even more affordable option is to create a raised bed using cinder blocks. Simply line up your cinder blocks into the shape you desire.

Fill the interior of your cinder block bed with newspaper and debris just as described for the wooden bed.

Fill the space with potting soil and start planting. One added benefit of the cinder block bed is the extra space inside each cinder block.

You could surround your garden with small flowers or separate your herbs using these versatile containers.

With a cinder block bed, you have the option to create any shape you can imagine. It is a great option for filling odd shaped areas or creating a circular bed.


The overall startup cost of a cinder block raised garden bed would be under $60. You can find several options available at your local garden center or home improvement store to create just the look you want, most for just around $1 per block.

If you have children, let your kids paint the blocks and create a colorful wonderland, sparking their interest in gardening and starting a conversation about nutrition.


As with all DIY projects, it’s about having fun and being able to make exactly what you want.

Invite a few neighbors over to participate and reward them with a BBQ and margaritas in the new backyard when you’re done.

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