Eat Well, For Less!

Subscribe for free weekly email updates
and receive a free eBook and budgeting
printables to help you on your real food journey!


  1. Diana says

    From where did you get your dirt? That would be a big expense for me to have to buy all of it. I am looking to build another bed but have been waiting for free lumber :-) The last one I built I used wood from my garage left from previous owners. I have to look some more to see if there is enough to do that again.

  2. says

    Our raised beds are made from wooded roofing tile crates given to us by a local roofing supply company. They are kind of like pallets in that sometimes people are just giving them away. Ask around! They are a fixed size but you can take off one end and connect them together. They aren’t gorgeous but they were free!

  3. Alicia says

    My concern would be whether or not the old wood was pressure treated. I have read that after 2003 wood that has been pressure treated is safer to use but if the old scraps someone finds are from before that date I would be concerned about the chemicals that were used on the wood. I think it could be a safety issue using pressure treated scraps of wood.

    • Tiffany says

      Hi Alicia,

      I just read an article on the topic ( and while one article doesn’t make it 100%, it seems that most of the danger happens within the first season or two of treatment (our wood is over 20 years old), the soil closest to the wood is affected, and there’s a very small chance that any chemicals would make it to the food itself. A great point Alicia! Thank you for mentioning it!

  4. says

    My husband used scrap wood he found at our house – the previous owners weren’t good about getting rid of things like that – to build my raised garden boxes, too. Other gardening supplies definitely can add up – soil, seeds/seedlings, supports for tomato and other plants, etc. – so we keep and reuse everything we can. Plus, I’m composting, which I consider a double-win: free compost/soil for the garden AND we use fewer trash bags!

    Good luck with the garden this summer!

    • Tiffany says

      Yes, supplies can add up. We’ve reused shish-ka-bob sticks for the tomatoes, used bare minimum seeds and I’ve been keeping the small containers that the tomato seedlings came in. I’m also keeping the small containers that our food comes it for next year’s seeds. I don’t plan to lose too much dirt this year, so hopefully that won’t be to big of an issue next year!

  5. Marie says

    I did the same thing, all my plants that I started in the house grew like crazy and totally outgrew every planter, jar and container I could find while my hasbana was away. When he got home the first project was definitely the raised garden beds,! We put in 3 8’x4′ beds and the plants are in and looking good. ☺
    I am going to be trying my hand at canning and pickleing, wish me luck!!

  6. Theresa says

    Thank you for all of your great ideas. I am growing my first garden this year and my garden bed was built by some friends of mine (yes, I bought the material but hey…!). I hope to build the next bed myself.
    One comment: When working with tools it is important to always wear shoes; too many painful accidents can happen and having shoes on can prevent greater dangers.

  7. Gloria1957 says

    Another great idea for a Renters Garden, is using fence planks. They range between $1-2 each, for the inexpensive ones, which is great if you can’t find anything for free. You can sometimes find old ones for free when a neighbor is redoing their fence. They are a little thin, which is why I wouldn’t suggest it for a long-term Garden (Anything over 5 years), but they definitely work in a pinch!

    • Gwen L says

      Do you think you could double the boards for a sturdier option? I’m looking at cedar planks for less than $3 each and freaking out at how awesome this idea is.

      • Tiffany says

        To make it taller? Or thicker? In either case, sure you can! Taller beds would give you the option of adding better soil/sand/compost to the mix, and the plants feeding on that more than what’s available on the ground. $3 per plank isn’t a bad deal. You could do a single 8×4 bed for $9, or a double for just $18!

  8. Cynthia says

    A local fence company has a bin of free wood to haul — much of it already painted/stained. Warning: not all stains/paints are good in a garden. Keep an eye out this time of year for topsoil sales at 99c per 2′ x 4′ bag. Or ask at local construction sites. If you have agriculture in your area, ask horse farms or beef farms if manure is available. Many towns have wood chips available from trimming trees.

  9. Kathy says

    After much research I decided to go with raised rows instead of raised beds. Cheaper, easier and can be either permanent or temporary. We haven’t lived in this house long enough to know for sure how much light various parts of the yard get so, if my chosen plot doesn’t work out I will just move it next season.

  10. says

    I just finished planting my square foot garden! I love having a raised bed and the kids love being a part of the process. It’s so easy to manage and has been a good experience for us. I bought organic lettuce just before planting and stuck the lettuce stumps in the dirt. New lettuce is already growing :)

    • Tiffany says

      Bonus points for the lettuce Cindy! I’ve got two more square feet to go and my garden is done. More on square foot gardening coming soon!!

  11. Theresa says

    Good article, except misleading. You didn’t inude the dirt in the breakdown and that is key. I made 2 raised beds using cinder blocks. They are about 1.20 and I bought 36 of them. About the same cost per bed as you mentioned, but mine are bigger. It was very diffict to find free dirt so I ordered it to be delivered. Was cheaper than home depot bags as we needed a lot. Still the dirt alone is about 5-7 a bag and I needed about 7-10 bags. Even smaller beds would be minimum $30 for dirt. If lucky enough to fk d dirt, great, but I’d include it just in case for people that can’t find it. I searched for abluya month before giving up lol. Anyway, hanks for the info. I may try this one as I want to build 2 more beds :)

    • Tiffany says

      Hi Theresa – we don’t include dirt because for many people, they already have it. Plus there are many ways to get dirt for free, and we would have too, except that living in a townhouse, there’s no direct access to the backyard. :)

    • Vicki says

      Be careful with cinder blocks and old tires (I know you didn’t mention the tires) because there are serious chemical leaching issues with both that will contaminate your produce.

  12. KC says

    Are the brackets necessary or add some great benefit over just hammering in a few large nails in their place to steady the frame? I have lots of those, for free! They go with the screws that fell out of my head. LOL.

    • Tiffany says

      I guess you don’t HAVE to use them KC, but we felt they were helpful given the condition of the wood (i.e. slightly warped and not quite straight). This was also our first garden bed, so we erred on the side of caution rather than not. :)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>