The 6 best inexpensive raised garden bed ideas

What is a raised garden bed?

Raised garden beds are a way to provide fertile growing areas above ground. Also called planters, they hold anywhere from a few cubic feet of soil to as many as 60 cubic feet, surrounded by sidewalls a foot or two tall. Raised garden beds may be made of metal, wood or synthetic materials. Some sit on the ground and others sit atop four legs but all are designed to be more comfortable to dig in than ground-level garden beds by reducing the amount of bending over you have to do when working with your plants.

What are the advantages of a raised garden bed?

Easier to prepare the soil

Regular gardens require you to dig into compacted soil with shovels and rakes to loosen it before you can begin planting. When the soil is hard, you may need a power tiller to break it up to ready it for planting. When tilling, shoveling and raking the existing soil, you can find yourself having to deal with roots, stones and things hidden underground. With a raised garden bed, you fill it with prepared and pre-mixed soils and nutrients.

Better drainage

Raised garden beds rely on gravity to drain the soil, so even when the ground underneath your garden bed is oversaturated after heavy rains, the excess water drains away quickly. Another benefit of raised garden beds is that no one is walking on the soil, trampling it and packing it down, so it stays looser and drains more quickly.

Better soil health

When you use raised garden beds, you are not limited by the existing soil in your yard, which may be too wet, too dry, too sandy, too acidic, too rocky or not have enough of the proper nutrients. With a raised garden bed, you get to fill it with the exact balance of soil and nutrients just right for growing your favorite vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Better control of weeds and pests

When you have a garden bed that sits above the ground, you can exclude many weeds and pests by using heavy plastic sheeting to line the bottom and provide a barrier that inhibits encroachment.

Easier access

If you have a series of raised garden beds, you can space them with walkways between them just wide enough for your garden carts, tools and hoses.

Longer growing season

The soil in a garden bed that is raised above the ground stays warmer than the ground beneath it. The temperature change is enough to let you get started planting a few weeks earlier in the spring.

Grow more in a smaller space

Because your raised garden beds are essentially islands, they can be worked on from all four sides, with every plant no more than an arm’s length away. This design means you don’t have to leave the kind of space between your plants that you would in a full-sized garden.

Less encroachment

Raised beds will not be invaded by lawn grasses and because they’re above ground, fewer things are likely to end up in your flowers, including pets.

Less bending over

Whether you buy or build a raised garden bed, you get to choose the height you find most convenient to work at without having to bend over and strain your back. Some raised garden beds have sides wide enough to sit on.

A more interesting look

The walls of your raised garden beds do more than just contain your soil and plants. They add texture, shape and color that can complement your plantings or provide a design counterpoint to them.

You can relocate them

Most raised garden beds are easy to set up and take down. After your first season, you can move your garden bed to a spot that has more sunlight and better growing conditions than your first choice.

Raised garden beds for under $100

metal

Land Guard Galvanized Raised Garden Bed Kit

Land Guard Galvanized Raised Garden Bed Kit

This 4- by 2-foot oval bed is made of double-layer steel alloy treated to resist corrosion. The appearance is that of a 1-foot-tall stock tank for watering cattle and adds a ranch theme to your garden.

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Wood

Eco Gardener Raised Bed Garden Kit

Eco Gardener Raised Bed Garden Kit

The tiered design puts your flower and herbs at three different levels. The 4- by 4-foot square shape is made of treated nontoxic wood that is sanded smooth and assembles in less than 15 minutes. Joints are precision-cut, so you can easily stack and expand these.

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Synthetic

Vivohome Elevated Garden Planter Kit Pack of 2

Vivohome Elevated Garden Planter Kit, Pack of 2

Each box is 16 inches on the sides and 10 inches high. The high-density polyethylene has a texture that resembles a rattan basket weave and is environmentally safe. These boxes have a water baffle built in to reserve excess water and a handy drain plug with a stopper.

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Raised garden beds for $100-$150

metal

Frizione 3- By 6-Foot Galvanized Steel Raised Garden Bed and Planter

Frizione 3- By 6-Foot Galvanized Steel Raised Garden Bed and Planter

This sturdy 2-foot-tall rectangular structure bolts together with thick steel support rods that prevent warping. The ends are capped with corner guards and the bottomless design accommodates plants with deep roots.

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Wood

Best Choice Products 2-By 4-Foot Elevated Rollabout Wood Planter

Best Choice Products 2-by 4-foot Elevated Rollabout Wood Planter

This 32-inch tall planter is the same height as most kitchen counters, letting you work without stooping over. It is reinforced with crossbars, rolls easily on lockable wheels and has a storage shelf beneath the bed for your favorite gardening accessories. You get a protective liner that retains the soil and keeps the moisture from the wood.

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Synthetic

Keter Urban Bloomer 12.7-Gallon Self-Watering Planter Box

Keter Urban Bloomer 12.7-Gallon Self-Watering Planter Box

The water gauge is easy to read and the drainage system can be opened or closed to regulate moisture. The water reservoir prevents root decay that comes from overwatering and the polypropylene resin has the look and feel of wood.

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David Alan Van writes for Best Reviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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