How to Make a Raised Bed Frugally

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Power tillers break up hard soil quickly.
Power tillers break up hard soil quickly. (Image: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images)

Raised garden beds offer several benefits compared to traditional beds. The organic amendments in raised bed soil improve the quality of the bed and lead to healthier plants. Raised beds also supply improved drainage, which prevents the soil from waterlogging. This is especially important if the surrounding soil is heavy clay. Although traditional raised beds typically have wood or brick sides, it's possible to create a frugal alternative that doesn't use these expensive materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Power tiller
  • Compost

Mark off the garden bed area with stakes. An area measuring approximately 4 feet by 3 feet works well, though you can make the bed any length desired as long as it is no wider than 3 feet.

Till the top 8 to 10 inches of soil within the staked off area with a gas-powered tiller. Remove any rocks or large roots unearthed by the tiller. Break up any clods of soil with the tiller.

Spread a 4-inch layer of compost over the garden bed. Use homemade or bulk purchased compost to save on the cost of the bed.

Till the bed a second time, incorporating the compost into the soil. The raised bed should sit 4 to 6 inches taller than the surrounding soil.

Work fresh compost into the bed each spring before planting. The added compost improves the soil quality and further raises the bed.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use large rocks or old bricks from around your property to create sides for the bed after construction. Alternatively, lay large branches around the borders of the bed to create natural looking sides.
  • Power tillers are inexpensive to rent, but you can dig the bed by hand using a shovel to save more money.
  • Don't walk or set heavy equipment on top the soil after constructing the bed, as this compacts the soil and ruins the bed.

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