If you’re looking for a cheap way to build a DIY raised garden bed and you have access to discarded wood fence, I’ll help you learn how to make one (or three) in just a few hours. Don’t worry; you don’t have to be a handyman (or woman). You just need a few tools and supplies and you can build a raised bed for your vegetable garden on the cheap!
My family knows me so well. When my brother-in-law replaced a section of his picket fencing, he asked if I wanted it for my garden.
Of course I do! (I couldn’t agree fast enough.) I first confirmed that the fence was built after 2003 to ensure the pressure-treated wood was free of arsenic-containing CCA. Then, I did ask my husband a few questions since he’s the builder in our family, but if I could do most of this DIY raised garden bed myself, anyone can.
Step 1: Examine and Prepare Wood for Raised Bed
First, examine the wood and discard any pieces with major cracks. Then, use a hammer and pliers to remove any staples left in the fencing.
Once that’s completed, measure the wood and count how many pieces you have to work with.
Most of my pieces were six feet in length and six inches in height. I did have a few that were five feet in length. For the five-feet pieces, I chose to cut those in half to use as end pieces. You don’t want your beds to be any wider than four feet.
Because I had plenty of wood to work with, I chose to create three 2.5′ x 6′ beds that shared inner vertical posts.
Step 2: Gather Materials for Building the Raised Garden Bed
Although you can do this a variety of ways, I chose to secure the wood pieces to 4×4 pieces of lumber. My husband cut these into 18″ pieces. Six inches would be used to anchor into the ground, and the other twelve inches would be used to secure the two pieces of lumber for each side.
You will also need screws, drill, carpenter’s square (or ruler), and pencil.
Step 3: Attach the Wood to the 4x4s
I chose to build all of the long sides first. Although I was making three beds, I only pre-built the two end beds first. The final bed’s sides would be added in the garden (more info below). If you choose to build stand-alone beds, you can build them all before placing in the garden. Or you could build them in the garden, though I appreciated the stability of concrete while laying the pieces.
Because I wanted to save 4×4 lumber, the inner pieces would be used to anchor two beds. They looked like this:
But the end pieces would be attached flush like this:
(If this is confusing, it will make sense when you see the final product. And if you’re building stand-alone beds, don’t worry about this. Build each corner flush.)
Step 4: Set Raised Beds in Garden
First, level your garden space as best you can. Then place the beds where you want them before anchoring them in. Adjust as needed.
I pressed on the raised bed to mark the place for the corners and then moved the bed out of the way. From there, I used a post hole digger (you could use a shovel) to dig out a large hole for the anchors to be set.
(Beware of chickens in the garden scratching for bugs in your newly leveled garden area!)
Then, move the bed into its place. Use a level to ensure your bed isn’t tilting.
If you’re only building standalone raised beds, you are done! All you have to do next is fill your bed with soil! But if you’re building interlocking beds like I did, you have a few more steps.
Step 5: Attach Final Wood to Raised Beds in Garden (optional)
Here you see I’ve built two raised beds. The inside corners have room to attach two more sides. But first, I had to measure and ensure I set the beds far enough apart (but not too far) so the remaining lumber could be attached. Once I did that, I was able to add the sides to complete the three raised bed system.
Because the wood was given to me, and my husband had two extra 4x4s and screws, I was able to build three raised garden beds for FREE! If you have to purchase the 4x4s and screws, you’ll spend about $20 on 4x4s and $5 on screws — for 3 RAISED BEDS, putting each bed at under $10! That’s a pretty cheap raised bed if you ask me! Now I just have to add the soil and wait for spring to arrive!
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