Raised Bed Garden, Quick and Cheap!
Last week my husband and I spent hours researching inexpensive ways to build garden beds, trying to come up with a solution we could afford. With the big bucks we have been spending on our remodel, we didn’t have a lot left. Growing a garden, however, is something we both feel very strongly about, so we were determined to make it work.
Walking through Lowes last week we decided to check on the price of some tile we had been eyeing for our kids bathroom, and happened across this display.
And immediately a plan started to form in my mind. These are fence pickets, and only $1.56 per piece! They are 5/8 of an inch thick 5 1/2 inches wide and 6 feet long. And they are pressure treated!!! (The form of pressure treating used is safe for Garden Box use, I researched it!) We figured that with cutting them in half, and stacking them 3 tall that we would need 9 pieces per Garden box. This gave us boxes that are almost 3×6 for a little over $14.00. Wow. It turned out when we got up there to buy them that they were on sale for $1.09 apiece BONUS!!! So ended up spending less than $10 per box!
*******Update. Although these held up really well, and we are on our 3rd year with them now, when we build new beds this year we paid a bit more for the upgraded boards. They were about 2.09 apiece, but they are a bit sturdier. Both sets of boxes still look great, but keep it in mind.
We (well my husband anyway) started by cutting off the ends of each of the fence pickets, so that they wouldn’t have rounded tops- then he cut several pieces of 2×2 into 16.5 inch sections, for us to attach the corners to. We had the 2×2’s on hand from another project, so they were free, but you would only need 1 2×2 or 2×4 for each box, so this doesn’t add but about 2.50 to your overall cost. Lastly he cut the end pieces in half so that we had 6 3ft boards and 6 6ft boards for each bed. (we made 8 beds total)
Then we simply laid the boards down (don’t you LOVE our fancy workshop?) and screwed the 6ft boards onto the 16.5 inch 2×2’s.
Then we lifted the 6 foot pieces up and screwed the 3 ft boards onto the 2×2’s from the other side. This took about 10 min!
Ta Da! Now the basic frame is done. In hindsight, I think it would be even sturdier with a 1×3 support screwed or nailed in the center of the 6 ft pieces, just to keep them from bowing out- but its not really necessary.
Then my husband leveled the ground out underneath them, just using a shovel and level.
Lastly he lined it with plastic (we just used plastic drop cloth bought from Lowes as well) Covered the ground with brown paper, the idea was to keep the grass from growing up underneath- although, we ended up getting the lot graded first- and probably didn’t need it. If you are placing yours on a spot that has existing grass though, I would NOT skip this step. Then we simply filled it with dirt. See if you can find someone with a truck you can borrow and call up your local landscape supply. You can usually get a truckload full of garden soil for under 20 dollars, and that should be enough to fill a few beds!
Now just plant your little garden plants and enjoy! We have planted tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, and squash. I can’t WAIT for them to start producing!
*************Update- do NOT line with plastic! A- It can leach nasty chemicals into your soil- and B it breaks up over time and you end up with tiny pieces of broken plastic in your beds. GROSS. So until I can update the graphic, please ignore “line with plastic” We also use cardboard boxes as frequently as we use brown paper!
**************Also, if you want them to hold up a bit better- add another piece of wood as a support about halfway across the 6 ft sections of board, epsecially if you use the cheapest fence post pickets.