BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (2023)

When you decide to build a raised bed the question arises in your mind is what type of material you should use for its making. There are different sorts of materials available for this purpose. You should do some research so you can be aware of the health and environmental concerns of any material which you are going to use in building raised beds for your favorite plants.

The most important thing in choosing the material is your budget. Some materials are cheap and some are expensive. So choose that material which is within your budget. The materials which can be used for building your raised beds are concrete blocks, different types of lumber, rocks, cinder blocks, steel, and even old branches.

In this article, we are going to discuss some materials which are best for building a raised bed. Each material has pros and cons and after considering all these you should choose your material very carefully. Hope this information is enough for you for selecting the material.

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (1)

1- WOOD

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (2)

The most common material which is used for raised beds is wood. The reason for its popularity is that it is very cheap. There are different types of wood available such as redwood, cedar, and pine. But you should avoid the wood which is preserved with toxins such as creosote-soak railroad ties.

TPA considers that pressure-treated wood is safe for your plants but as it is treated with alkaline copper quaternary. But you should line your bed with weed barrier fabric. In this way, you will avoid the contact of soil with the wood.

PROS

  • The garden raised bed which is made from wood is very easy to install.
  • Wood is a material that is easily available in most of the areas in any country.
  • You can create with the help of wood both traditional as well as contemporary raised garden beds.
  • You can make any type of design and construct you according to the instructions for the raised bed.
  • The most important benefit you get from the wood is that it is cost-effective for building raised beds for your garden.

CONS

  • Although it is a cost-effective material, it is not durable and its life is about 10 years.
  • Treated wood can last longer as compared to the treated wood but it is not good for your plants.

Read More: How to Build a Raised Bed for Cheap?

(Video) How to Build a Raised Bed CHEAP and EASY, Backyard Gardening

2- CONCRETE

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (3)

The use of concrete as a material is becoming very trendy nowadays. It seems very ordinary and humble when you add this as a material for raised beds. The main concerns about concrete blocks are: one is pH and the other is heavy metals seepage. The pH of concrete blocks is alkaline, if your soil is acidic then it is good for your plants otherwise you should be careful.

PROS

  • As compared to the wood-concrete can last long.
  • It looks incredible whether you are making a traditional, contemporary, or even global style by using this material.
  • The interesting thing is that it can be tinted to blend. You can easily match or contrast concrete raised beds with your home and other structures.

CONS

  • The main disadvantage of concrete is that it is expensive and if your budget is low you cannot afford it.

3- MASONRY

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (4)

The interesting thing about masonry raised beds is that they can easily adjust according to the design or style of your garden. But this quality depends upon the fact that what type of rock you are using in building your raised bed.

If you are not an experienced gardener then it is not able for you to complete a project without any help. So if you want to complete this project very perfectly then you should hire a masonry crew to install this type of bed.

PROS

  • The best thing about masonry raised beds is that it is a permanent addition to your garden. It is durable and long-lasting that’s why it is the choice of many gardeners who want to raise beds which last many years.
  • A masonry raised bed enhances the beauty of your garden and you can build them according to the exterior of your home.

CONS

  • As compared to wood masonry raised beds to cost you too much. It is an expensive bed so most gardeners who can’t afford it avoid it.

Read More: HOW TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED WITH SLEEPERS

4- CINDER BLOCK

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (5)

You can construct raised beds in several ways by using a cinder block. You can build this type of raised garden bed according to your desired height. The elegant finishing makes it unique. The surface treatment and the capped tops are another reason for choosing it.

(Video) Build a 4x8 Raised Garden Bed for $50! This Hack Makes it Stronger With No Wood (almost)

PROS

  • Inexpensive and easy availability are the advantages that make this raised bed unique.
  • You can easily buy this material from any home improvement and building supply stores.
  • Your design of raised beds can be rustic, urban, or elegant. It depends upon your creativity and aesthetic sense.
  • It is a cheap raised bed but it doesn’t mean that it is not durable. It can last for a long time.

CONS

  • Although it is an inexpensive raised bed and has many advantages. The only problem with this type of raised bed is that the individual species of cinder blocks are very heavy that’s why you cannot complete your project alone. You need help from others to complete it.

5- ROCK

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (6)

You can easily construct raised beds with the help of rocks. For building a raised bed you need small boulders and large cobblers. The smaller rocks can be used to make a border and the larger one can be pushed up against one another. This bed can be made curved or straight.

PROS

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (7)

  • This is easy to build a raised bed. You will not need any special skills for making it. It is also a good choice for newbies.
  • No special equipment is required for building this raised bed.
  • All the materials are easily available and you will not face any difficulty in building it.

CONS

  • Nestled rocks do not follow every kind of landscape style.
  • The construction of this type of raised bed is not permanent and you can change the shape and location of your beds very easily.

Read More: THE BEST PORTABLE RAISED GARDEN BEDS ON WHEELS

6- GALVANIZED CULVERT

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (8)

Usually galvanized culverts are used for drainage under roadways. But it is very interesting to know that when they are sliced into sections they can convert easily into smart, trendy, and wonderful planters for a modern garden. You can easily buy culverts from building supply stores.

PROS

(Video) How To Hügelkultur AMAZING Grow Method For Raised Beds Vegetable Gardens - Organic & Cheap

  • It gives a cool, trendy, and contemporary look to your garden.
  • It is easy to install and no assembly is required.
  • You can also choose the size and the height of the culvert according to the need and requirements of your garden.

CONS

  • It is difficult to find the desired length and width of the pipe for making raised beds.
  • After that, you will face the problem of cutting the pipe into sections to use as planters.
  • Now the step comes, transporting these sections to your home for this purpose you need a truck or arrange delivery for your sections.
  • Culverts are more expensive than galvanized stock tanks.

7- STOCK TANKS

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (9)

Another option for the materials of a raised bed is a stock tank. Stock tanks are available in different sizes and shapes such as round or rectangular with rounded ends. Stock tanks are generally used to feed the animals of the farm but nowadays they are becoming trendy and most of the gardeners are interested in growing plants in them.

Its addition gives an urban style to your garden. The important thing you have to do after buying the tanks is that make drainage holes to the bottom. You can make these holes by using a drill. The size of the holes must be ¼ or ½ inch. Drainage holes are more important for soil and the better yield of your plants.

PROS

  • These tanks are very inexpensive and do not affect your pocket.
  • They are easily available at feed stores of animals as it is mentioned above that they are used to feeding different animals.
  • No assembly is required before using them.
  • They are durable and last for a long time.
  • They are portable so you can easily move them from one part of the garden to the other. If you are changing the layout of your garden you will not face any difficulty as they are handy.
  • They are available in different sizes and shapes so you can choose the size according to your needs and requirements of your garden.

CONS

  • After buying from the feed store you need to transport them by a truck or arrange any delivery service. You have to spend some money on transportation which will raise your budget.
  • In hot seasons, the sides of the tank will be heated up due to the sunlight. This is not scorching heat that will burn your skin but you should be careful if you are using such types of tanks.

8- STEEL

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (10)

If the theme of your garden is rustic then you can use steel as a material for your raised beds. The addition of steel will add an industrial look to your landscape. Steel is mostly used in construction projects. The thickness of the sheets of steel is about ¼ inch thick.

After installation, it will start on natural Steel color. If you use a chemical process then it will create the rusty patina immediately. When you are doing this application you must be careful and avoid a rusty runoff into nearby plantings.

PROS

  • Steel is a new material that today’s gardeners are using for raised beds. Most people are interested in wood but if you want to add a new look or give an interesting view of your garden then you must try steel because it creates an up-to-date aesthetic.
  • Steel has a quality of naturally weather-resistant that makes it durable.

CONS

(Video) 10 Reasons Why Raised Bed Gardens are Best

  • The installation of this type of raised bed is very difficult because the material is very heavy.
  • It is very expensive and not readily available in all areas.
  • If you are living in such an area that receives salt spray from the ocean then steel as a material for your raised bed is not recommended for you. because such an environment rapidly deteriorates this material which you are using for your raised bed.
  • Steel will heat up due to the rays of the sun, especially in summer. In this way, the soil of the raised bed will become warm due to steel which is not good for your plants.
  • If you want to grow sensitive plants in your raised bed then steel is not a good choice for your plants.

Read More: 5 BEST METAL RAISED GARDEN BEDS

TIP FOR STEEL WHEN YOU ARE USING IT AS RAISED BED MATERIAL.

If you want to use steel as material then you should place your bed in a partially shaded area. In this way, the steel will not heat up more quickly.

TIPS FOR THE BEGINNERS

The beginners have no idea about the size, location, and material of the raised bed. The thing you should understand is that building raised beds need the commitment of your time and money. If you are not an experienced gardener so you should make a simple raised bed because this is the best way to start.

If you are a newbie and your budget is very low then it is suggested that you should start gardening by growing your plants in the ground. It will not cost you too much. In this way, you will get the experience of gardening without spending your money.

If you don’t like this idea then you will go and make your first raised bed with cheap material. Pinewood is the best option for you because this will last many years and available at cheap prices.

In this way, you will get knowledge about the size and location of the raised bed. After making the first raised bed you will get experience and can make your second raised bed with expensive and good material.

BEST MATERIALS TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED | Bed Gardening (11)

FAQs

What is the best material to use for a raised garden bed? ›

Build your raised bed with a decay-resistant type of wood, such as cedar, black cherry, oak (bur, chestnut, post, white), black locust, Osage orange, or redwood. (Source: USDA Forest Products Lab) Use a non-wood material such as stones, concrete blocks, bricks, or synthetic lumber.

What materials do you need to make a raised garden bed? ›

Raised beds can take on countless shapes, sizes, layouts, and materials. From wood, metal, stone, and plastic to wine bottles, dressers, animal troughs, canoes, and cardboard boxes, there's no shortage of creative ways people have dreamed up to garden above ground.

What type of wood is best for raised garden beds? ›

In most cases, cedar is the best wood to use for garden beds because cedar is naturally rot resistant. Western red cedar is commonly used, but white cedar, yellow cedar and juniper are also high-quality choices for outdoor construction projects.

What is the cheapest material to use for raised garden beds? ›

Raised beds made of cinder blocks or concrete blocks

Cinder blocks and concrete blocks are very inexpensive (typically $2 to $3 a piece at home improvement centers), and they make it really easy to build the outline of a raised garden bed.

Is wood or metal better for raised garden beds? ›

Wood will insulate your soil far better than galvanized steel, which makes wood ideal for building raised beds with cold frames for winter gardening.

What is the best soil mixture for raised beds? ›

You want the kind that's dark, rich, and loaded with microorganisms. Fill your beds with a mix of 50 to 60 percent good-quality topsoil and 40 to 50 percent well-aged compost. Before each new growing season, test your soil for pH and nutrient content. You can buy a kit at most home-improvement stores.

What do you fill the bottom of a raised garden bed? ›

The first option for filling your beds is a simple soil mixture. As you may have guessed, this is the simplest route you can take. Fill your bed with a 1:1 mixture of topsoil and compost mix, then lightly combine with a rake or shovel.

What should I use for the bottom of a raised garden bed? ›

The most used materials for a raised garden bed liner are cardboard, mulch, concrete, fabric, and plastic. They serve as a barrier between your garden soil and the ground to stop the weeds from coming through and keep out toxins and other pests in the ground.

How deep should a raised bed be? ›

They should have at least 8 inches of soil depth to accommodate the root systems of plants, because the majority of plant roots require 6 – 8 inches of soil for healthy root growth. A depth of 8 – 12 inches will suffice for most gardening situations.

How thick should lumber be for raised beds? ›

Use lumber that's at least 2″ thick. Many beds are built of 2x6s, because a 6″ deep bed will grow nearly anything except carrots and parsnips. At Spotts, we use 2x8s because we like that extra depth. The easiest way to make a raised bed is just to screw some 2x6s together to make a square.

How thick should wood be for raised beds? ›

Next is the thickness if the wood. In general, a thickness of 3cm or more will ensure that your raised garden bed lasts for a decade or more. There shouldn't be a need to maintain them but if you do they are likely have a longer life. A thickness of 2.5cm or less is likely to reduce the durability of the raised bed.

Is 1 foot deep enough for a raised garden bed? ›

A 1-foot raised bed is more than enough to accommodate a salad garden box plan. Carrots, radishes and peppers thrive with 12 inches or more. Medium-rooting vegetables like kale, cucumbers, and zucchini love at least 18 inches.

Is it cheaper to buy or build a raised garden bed? ›

A raised garden bed is like a small retaining wall, as it retains the mound of soil and plants behind its sidewalls. On average, building materials cost $18.39 per square foot.
...
Building from scratch.
MATERIALAVERAGE COST *per square foot (Materials Only)
Poured Concrete$22.80
Natural Stone$41.31
7 more rows
7 Jun 2022

What are three mistakes to avoid when gardening with raised beds? ›

8 Raised Bed Gardening Mistakes That Could Thwart Your Success
  • Picking the Wrong Spot. ...
  • Forgetting About a Water Source. ...
  • Making the Beds Too Big. ...
  • Building with the Wrong Materials. ...
  • Not Using the Best Soil. ...
  • Selecting Oversize Plants. ...
  • Skipping Mulch. ...
  • Not Protecting Your Plants.
18 Apr 2022

How long will a wooden raised bed last? ›

How Long Will Untreated Wood Last in Raised Beds? The longevity of untreated wood used for a raised garden bed depends largely on its exposure to the elements. Most wood species can last between 5 to 15-years outside. Wood deteriorates quickly if exposed to water/moisture and sunlight.

Should I put anything under raised bed garden? ›

It's not mandatory to create a raised garden bed floor, but experienced gardeners recommend it for several reasons: Prevent weeds from growing up from the ground below. Stop burrowing pests like voles, moles, and gophers from entering the raised beds.

What is the best soil mix for vegetable gardens? ›

I have found the best vegetable garden soil to be a mix of 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 compost and 1/3 peat moss (or coconut fiber). This mix gives you a well draining soil that also has the ability to retain moisture and is full of nutrients needed for your plants to grow.

What do you put in a raised garden bed before soil? ›

Bottom Fill – The Secret To Filling Raised Beds

Shredded leaves or straw, or a combination of the two are one of the best choices of all. What is this? To add an organic layer, place four to eight inches of material in the bottom of the bed. Don't worry about the height, it will compact down once the soil is added.

What soil is best for garden with vegetables? ›

The best soil suitable for vegetables includes lots of compost and organic matter such as composted leaves and ground or shredded, aged bark. Whatever you're starting with, incorporate enough organic material so that the amended soil is neither sandy nor compacted.

Should I line my raised garden bed with plastic? ›

Avoid lining your garden beds with plastic, as this prevents drainage and could drown your plants' roots. If you have a weed and pest problem, consider installing a combination of metal mesh and fabric or hardware cloth and cardboard to get both benefits at once.

Should you put rocks in bottom of raised garden bed? ›

Avoid using materials like rocks on the bottom of your raised bed, as this can create an artificial water table that will prevent good drainage. With raised garden beds, drainage is essential.

Do I need gravel under raised garden bed? ›

There is no need to put rocks at the bottom of a raised garden bed. It is actually a myth that has been around for several years. The belief for many years was that it would improve the drainage and also prevent any soil from spilling outside the beds.

Should I put cardboard in the bottom of my raised beds? ›

Many gardeners build raised beds right on their lawns, and line the bottoms with cardboard to smother the grass – a technique that makes it possible to fill the beds and start gardening right away. Even the gardener's helper enjoys a cardboard box!

What should I line the sides of my raised garden bed with? ›

You can line your raised bed to make it more durable and to prevent toxics from leaching into the soil. For lining, use landscape fabric found at garden supply stores or cloth fabric from clothing. Avoid non-porous plastic, as it can retain too much water and discourage beneficial insects and worms.

Should I seal the inside of my raised garden bed? ›

Sealing wood garden beds can help extend their lifespan many years beyond unsealed wood. Applying a sealer will protect the wood from moisture intrusion, mold, and decay.

What is the cheapest wood for raised garden beds? ›

The least expensive and most readily available wood for a raised garden bed is pine. It's ideal for short-term gardens at rental properties or temporary gardens that last for about 3 to 4 years. The short life of pine is because it has a low level of tannins, so it isn't protected from rot, decay, and pests.

Is 16 inches deep enough for a raised bed? ›

The minimum raised beds depth I ever recommend is six inches (which is deep enough to grow greens and herbs). One foot is enough to grow root crops and medium-size plants, and 18 inches is deep enough to grow pretty much any kitchen garden plant.

How many bags of soil do I need for a 2x4 raised bed? ›

It usually takes about two to three bags of purchased fertile mix (1.5 cubic feet each) to cover the bed surface to a depth of 2 inches.

Is it OK to use treated wood for raised beds? ›

A good choice for many backyard growers is a raised garden bed. The perfect building material for raised beds is pressure treated lumber. It's economical, easy to work and safe to use in gardening applications.

Is 2 feet wide enough for raised bed? ›

If a raised bed is placed against a building, fence, etc., making it accessible from only one side, the maximum width should be 1 1/2 to 2 feet (i.e., approximately arm's reach). Beds accessible on both sides can be 3 to 4 feet wide.

What do you put in the bottom of a raised garden bed? ›

The most used materials for a raised garden bed liner are cardboard, mulch, concrete, fabric, and plastic. They serve as a barrier between your garden soil and the ground to stop the weeds from coming through and keep out toxins and other pests in the ground.

Is it OK to use treated lumber for raised garden beds? ›

A good choice for many backyard growers is a raised garden bed. The perfect building material for raised beds is pressure treated lumber. It's economical, easy to work and safe to use in gardening applications.

Is it cheaper to build your own raised garden bed? ›

A raised garden bed is like a small retaining wall, as it retains the mound of soil and plants behind its sidewalls. On average, building materials cost $18.39 per square foot.
...
Building from scratch.
MATERIALAVERAGE COST *per square foot (Materials Only)
Poured Concrete$22.80
Natural Stone$41.31
7 more rows
7 Jun 2022

How deep should a raised garden bed be? ›

They should have at least 8 inches of soil depth to accommodate the root systems of plants, because the majority of plant roots require 6 – 8 inches of soil for healthy root growth. A depth of 8 – 12 inches will suffice for most gardening situations.

What is the best height for raised garden beds? ›

Height
  • Most garden crops need at least 10 inches of soil to thrive. ...
  • If the raised bed is on top of a hard surface, the minimum recommended height of 10 inches may not be deep enough for some crops, like potatoes.
  • Young children need beds closer to the ground.
  • For wheelchair access, beds should be 24 inches tall.

What is the best soil mix for raised beds? ›

You want the kind that's dark, rich, and loaded with microorganisms. Fill your beds with a mix of 50 to 60 percent good-quality topsoil and 40 to 50 percent well-aged compost. Before each new growing season, test your soil for pH and nutrient content. You can buy a kit at most home-improvement stores.

Should wooden raised beds be lined? ›

To prevent wood preservative leaching into the soil, line wood exposed to soil within the bed with black plastic sheeting.

How deep does a raised bed need to be for tomatoes? ›

Tomatoes, for example, which benefit from being planted deeply, require about 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm) of depth for their roots to grow. However, if your raised bed is about a foot high, the growth of the plant may simply be slightly stunted.

What is the cheapest way to build a raised garden? ›

Perhaps the easiest way to create a raised garden is to use a steel bin. These are normally used as stock tubs, but blogger Liz Marie Galvan used them to create a polished, rustic look in her backyard. Plus, they're easy to weed and care for since all of the plants are well-contained.

Videos

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2. How to DESIGN a RAISED BED GARDEN: 10 SIMPLE STEPS
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4. How to Build a Raised Bed for Growing Vegetables
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