Raised bed gardening can be a great way to grow, but if you have a lot of beds to make, it can get costly fast!
Here are some cheap ways to make raised beds. No waffling on for hours about the benefits of raised beds, just straight to the good stuff!
A Note About Pallets
Before we get into the list, I want to make a quick note about pallet wood, as the first few options are pallet based.
Before using them to grow food, you need to check on your pallets, as some can have been treated with nasty chemicals.
Most are fine now as the chemicals are banned in many countries, but the pallets still exist.
Look for markings on the pallets before using them.
- DB – Debarked.
- HT – Heat Treated.
- KD – Kiln Dried.
- DH – Dielectric Heated.
- SF – Sulphuryl Fluoride. Avoid
- MB – Methyl Bromide. Seriously avoid – the worst pallets.
Pallet collars sit on top of pallets to ensure everything stays in place during transport.
As you can see from the photo above, the make perfect ready-made raised beds and can even be stacked on top of each other for extra height.
You can often find these being given away for free or for a small charge.
If you’re not bothered about paying a small sum, Facebook marketplace is a good place to start.
If you want free ones, check around your local industrial estates, but always ask for permission before taking them!
Pallets can make great raised beds all on their own without much work being done to them.
As you can see above, they can also look beautiful when done right.
You might want to cut a bit off larger pallets so they are not quite so high.
Then line them with plastic or a fine mesh to stop your soil from falling out.
You can also use the pockets on the side for a little extra growing room.
You can also break pallets up and use the wood to create raised beds.
I did this at my allotment, as you can see above. For a step-by-step guide, click here.
This can be completely free if you can source free pallets and break them up yourself.
I bought the wood pre-cut up for 60p a metre on Facebook marketplace. There are lots of sellers as it is commonly used for firewood.
The bags that bulk compost, sand, gravel etc., is delivered in can make an excellent and free raised bed.
They are pretty deep, so fold the sides before filling, as shown in the photo above.
This kind of plastic does begin to break down over time, so these won’t last forever, but they can be a great free way to get started.
Scaffold boards make great raised bed, and they can sometimes be sourced for free.
You can try contacting your local scaffolding company as they will often be getting rid of old boards and can be grateful for someone to get them off their hands.
Other times you might have to pay for them, but it is usually only a small charge.
Gravel boards are one of the cheapest ways of buying new timber to make raised beds.
They also have the added benefit of being pressure treated to make them last longer.
The newer pressure-treated boards are much safer now after a change in EU law which still applies after Brexit.
This is true for pressure-treated wood in the UK. If you are from the USA, I would advise doing your own research as I’m not sure about the laws.
You can no longer use copper, chromium, arsenic (CCA) preservatives to treat timber in the UK. All wood-preserving products containing arsenic and chromium were banned from sale from 1 September 2006.
Another low cost way of buying wood to make raised bed is to use decking boards.
Again these are pressure treated so they last longer but are still safe to grow veggies in.