How to build a Cheap Raised Garden Bed (DIY Rustic garden bed)

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A raised garden bed can make your backyard look amazing, and help produce a bountiful crop of vegetables. Now I can’t help you with the veggies, but I can show you how I made a cheap raised garden bed with a cool rustic look.

Cheap Raised Garden Bed Idea with a cool rustic look
Cheap Raised Garden Bed

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(You can pin the picture below to Pinterest for finding again in the future.)

Cheap Raised Garden Bed DIY Rustic look. It was quick and easy to make with only basic skills and tools required.
Cheap Raised Garden Bed – DIY Rustic look

Get the Wood

I used free wood. Yes free!

I was given a large pile of old, weathered wood.

I did a lady a favor by taking it off her hands and I was very happy to do so.

I was going to make a fence from it, but I decided to build this cheap raised garden bed.

I’m certain you’ll be able to find free wood too.

Because the best price to pay for the wood to make a cheap raised garden bed is FREE. 🙂

Check Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or other local classified sites.

Or ask a fencing company if they’re replacing any old weathered fences soon.

They may be happy for you to take away the old wood.

Doesn’t hurt to ask.

Tools Required

I do not have a fancy workshop.

In fact, I just do my projects in my carport.

I don’t want you to think you need an awesome shop, or amazing new tools to do this project. Not at all.

It doesn’t take much to make this cheap raised garden bed.

  • I have an old chop saw from Black & Decker (it was given to me in well used condition). You could use a hand-held circular saw but it will take longer.
  • I use a cordless drill from Ryobi (it too was given to me)

But one thing I do have is a concrete floor in my carport that is fairly level.

This really helps when you are screwing the sides of the bed together.

My old Black and Decker chop saw that I used to make my cheap raised garden bed
Nothing special…just an old saw

Dimensions of my raised garden bed

Work with what you have. 

The weathered wood I received free was 32 inches long, about 4 inches wide, and just over 1 inch thick.

I wanted to maximize this free wood so that is why I decided to make my raised garden bed 16 inches tall.

If you have trouble bending over too low then make the sides taller. Just keep in mind you’ll require more soil to fill it.

I took the 32″ boards and cut some of them in half.

(I didn’t cut them all because I need to use some as cross-members.Set at least 8 full length pieces aside for later.)

DIY Cheap Raised Garden Bed - measuring the boards
Measuring boards to cut in half (I think I need new gloves)

Make the Picket-style tops

I made one board with a top style that I desired.

Basically I cut out two triangles from the top for the board to create the look I wanted.

I didn’t want a sharp point on the top because gardeners will be bending over this or kids will be playing on or near it.

DIY Raised Garden Bed

Then I used my first board as a template to mark my other boards.

I find it’s easier to bulk process a job so I cut lots of boards in half initially, then I marked them with the template, then I cut the picket-style tops.

Set your mitre saw at 45 degree angle.

Then cut off the little triangular pieces the tops of your boards.

Raised Garden Bed DIY. Used a mitre saw to cut the tops of the boards at an angle
Using the mitre saw to cut my boards for my cheap raised garden bed

Cross member pieces

I reserved some of the full 32″ long boards to use as the horizontal stabilizing pieces.

I decided on using two of these full length pieces per side. So 8 total.

You may think that assembling all the pieces would be complicated, but it really isn’t.

To make positioning the small vertical picket-style pieces easier and consistent I used other pieces of wood as spacers. 

I’ve shown my simple set-up in the photo below.

This shows how I attached the very first piece.

I screwed it into place flush along the left side of the cross pieces.

I decided to put the bottom cross board tight to the ground so that dirt doesn’t spill out underneath it.

But I’d line the box with cardboard to ensure dirt stays in it.

DIY Rustic Cheap Raised Garden Bed instructions on how I built the sides of the garden bed. I used other wood as spacers.
My cheap raised garden bed in process then the finished product at the bottom.

Screwing boards into place

Once the boards were in place I screwed the vertical boards to the horizontal cross boards using my cordless drill.

I used 2″ long – size 2 Robertson screws.

I chose 2″ because I knew my boards were slightly over 1″ thick so screwing a 2″ screw would NOT break through the other side.  

I thought my young daughter might come over and check out what I was building and I was right.

So i’m glad there is no sharp screw tips sticking out.

Raised Garden Bed DIY - Screwing boards into place
screwing the boards into place

My Ryobi cordless is getting old now, but it still does the trick. There are lighter, more compact and more powerful cordless drills now.

If you don’t have one you should look into buying one. They come in handy on SO MANY household projects and chores.

My parents have a Dewalt like the one below, and I’m really envious. It even has a built-in light.

Raised Garden Bed DIY Dewalt Cordless Drill would get the job done
Photo credit: Dewalt

Click here to see details of this cordless drill on Amazon.

Adding the other vertical boards

To keep the spaces between the boards small and consistent I used this thin white board as a spacer.

Raised Garden Bed DIY spacing out the vertical boards
Using thin spacer board to keep gap between vertical boards small and consistent

I was initially going to put four screws into each vertical piece but I decided that was overboard and ended up only using two screws per vertical board.

Just keep repeating this step the whole way along your horizontal board until you can’t add another full piece.

Raised Garden Bed DIY attached the vertical pieces

You’ll end up with a panel like this.

Cheap Raised garden Bed DIY side panel

Repeat this three more times until you have all four sides of your raised garden bed prepared.

Attaching the Sides Together

I have to admit…I got a bit lucky.

When I put two panels together, like a capital “L” shape, the space at the corner was the perfect amount to place one additional vertical piece in there.

And this last vertical board held the two adjacent panels together.  

If you aren’t as lucky as me then you may need to cut some length off the horizontal boards that stick out the sides.

Raised Garden Bed DIY
I got lucky…no additional cutting required

Because I’d be screwing close to the ends of the horizontal boards on the left panel, and the sides of the boards along the right panel, I wanted to make sure I didn’t split the wood.

So I drilled pilot holes using a small drill bit.

Rustic Garden Bed DIY drilling pilot holes
Drilling pilot holes into the wood to prevent splitting

Added the screws into the wood

This is how it can be made portable.

Believe me trying to carry this into the backyard when it’s all assembled isn’t the easiest thing.

Having the side pieces attached like this allows you to quickly screw the next panel together.

We’ve already pilot-holed the board so screwing it together will be easy.

Finished Project

It took me just over an hour to complete this project.

I wasn’t racing (especially when using a saw) but I did want to get it done in one afternoon.

I’m happy with the finished result.

Rustic Cheap Raised Garden Bed DIY Finished Result

I think I might actually sell this one but if I was going to use it myself I would line it with cardboard. This will help keep the dirt inside.

I thought about landscape fabric or plastic tarps, but I don’t know what kinds of chemicals are on these items so I wouldn’t want any issues with chemicals leaching into my soil.

You can probably tell by my lawn that my green thumb really only extends to dandelions. 🙂

If you have any other suggestions on how to line a raised garden bed prior to adding soil please comment below. 

If you try this project with a handheld circular saw you may find it takes you awhile.

Now, you’ve seen that I have an old Black & Decker miter saw, but if you don’t have one and are looking at purchasing one, I see that a quality miter saw on avilable on Amazon is Dewalt saw shown below.

I’d love to get one of these. 🙂

Dewalt miter saw on Amazon
Photo credit: Dewalt

Thank you very much for checking out my DIY post on how to build a cheap raised garden bed.

I hope it inspires you to create your own raised garden bed.

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