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Cheap alternatives for raised bed gardens

Use the holes in cement blocks as raised planters or turn them on their sides and top with planks for pot shelves.
Use the holes in cement blocks as raised planters or turn them on their sides and top with planks for pot shelves.
Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Finding cheap alternatives for raised bed gardens is at the top of my to do list this fall. I had such a rough time gardening this season. The constant weeding and bending just doesn't agree with me. Still, I love to garden. That's why we've decided to go with raised beds next year. Of course, that means we have to start building them now. Our first idea was a raised table. We figured it would use less soil and keep the weeds down. The plan was to build several. We started with one, which is turning out beautifully and will do everything we hoped. Unfortunately, the lumber cost us a small fortune. Now we're using some more affordable alternatives for the rest of our raised beds.

We plan to use all the scrap lumber we can.

This might mean our raised beds will vary in size and shape. Still, we'll be able to build quite a few with just the wood we have on hand. The nice part is that our garden won't take on that neat uniform, factory produced look. It'll be a little wild and eclectic, just like its owners.

Keeping with the eclectic theme is an old bathtub made into a raised bed.

My partner is a plumber. That means he recycles plenty of used tubs, laundry sinks and the like. We plan to partially bury these as raised bed garden alternatives. Of course, we'll use gravel under the soil and leave the plugs out for better drainage. We'll disguise them with a pretty rock border. Some might even become water garden ponds.

Old bookshelves make excellent raised bed gardens. Here's a step by step:

1. Remove the flat back of the shelf (save it)

2. Staple landscape fabric in its place.

3. Choose a sunny location.

4. Lay the bookshelf (fabric down) on the ground.

5. Fill the sections with new soil.

Bookshelves aren't the only old furniture we plan to re-purpose.

The old owners of our home left a few old TV stands and the like in the basement. Some will be turned on their sides as cheap alternatives for raised bed gardens. We can easily attach a trellis here and there as needed. Others will be taken apart and used to make more scrap wood raised bed gardens. Still others will be used as table bases for raised beds.

Remember those bookshelf backs?

We'll make raised bed garden tables from them using short 4x4 posts for support. We plan to place same sized pots and containers on them. Then we can fill and plant. All the pots will be at the same level for easy gardening. Of course, we'll have to watch the weight limit on these tables. We'll also double them up and brace them, since bookshelf backs tend to be quite thin.

Step tables can be made with scrap lumber and cement blocks.

It's an easy alternative to raised bed gardens. The first step is just a plank supported by three cement blocks, one at each end and one in the center. Directly behind it, the next step uses two blocks on each side and two in the center. The last step uses three block stacks in the same fashion. You can easily reach pots placed on all three steps from the front. Now you know what to do with those leftover cement blocks, planks and pots.

Raised beds placed directly on the ground are cheaper to build than tables.

Need raised beds but can't afford them? This is the cheapest alternative using new lumber. Just use four short 4x4 posts as corners. Now you can nail 2x12 inch lumber to the posts to make a cheap square raised garden bed. This technique can be used with scrap lumber as well. Be sure to use weed block or cardboard under these beds or you'll defeat the purpose.

Please note: When using finished old furniture or treated wood, be sure to use pots inside them, so as not to contaminate soil.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.