Raised garden beds are a technique of growing vegetables that have been around for centuries. When you are planting, you usually have three options: directly in the ground, pots, or raised garden beds. Most find garden beds far more superior than any other method of planting. Raised garden beds allow for a happy sense of control over your garden.
They are easy to water, and they warm up faster than solid ground. Garden beds that are made right have great draining soil, ample space (as opposed to being planted in pots), and they allow the roots to breathe. It is also easier to control pests and diseases from attacking your garden.
There are so many different ways to build raised garden beds. The possibilities are almost endless, from simple wooden boxes to elaborate metal boxes with hoop house attachments.
Today I am sharing my knowledge of raised garden beds and how to build the best and most unique ones for your plants to grow happy and healthy.
21 Raised Garden Border Ideas
Here are 21 wonderful raised garden bed ideas you can use in your garden this year.
1. Simple Square Wood Raised Bed
The simple square or rectangle raised bed is probably what you think of when you think of raised garden beds. The great thing about these garden beds is that they are so easy to make, and it takes almost no time at all. By attaching four pieces of 4×4 in a square or rectangle shape, you have the frame already built for your raised garden bed.
If you want your bed to be deeper, you can also add another frame on top of the original to raise it up. A more shallow bed is great for vegetables like leafy greens, squashes, and cucumbers. A deeper bed does better for plants that like to dig a little deeper, like root vegetables, tomatoes, peas, and beans.
A little garden tip: if you have a deeper bed, instead of filling the whole thing with soil (which can get expensive), put down a layer of sticks, dead leaves, or dead grass clippings as a sort of compost and base layer for your plants. You can then add soil on top. This is a great way to save money and give your plants some extra nutrients.
2. Raised Bed with Hoop House Attachment
This is an offspring of the simple raised bed design. It is easy to attach a hoop house and plastic over your rectangle or square shape. When I build raised beds, this is always the way I go because I like having the option to put plastic over my vegetables in case cold weather comes through or high winds. You can also start seedlings in an environment like this and skip seed trays altogether.
There are a few ways to add a hoop house over your garden bed. The easiest way, and what I always do, is build my raised bed normally, then add three PVC pipes bent across the bed with a PVC spine down the center, making sure each end of the PVC is firmly in the ground.
Then you can throw plastic over all of it and hold it down with clamps or even just rocks. This bed is a great idea if you live in an area that has mild summers and lots of rain. It is also a great idea to get those early spring crops in, like broccoli. Having the plastic also helps keep the bugs out.
Swap out the plastic for shade cloth when it starts heating up outside and your plants are getting bigger! You will still be able to keep your plants safe from pests by having them covered, but you aren’t cooking them under the plastic.
3. Rain Barrel Raised Bed
Rain barrel beds are super fun and easy to make if you have a few extra rain barrels. You want a wood structure built to keep the barrel from rolling and to keep it off the ground, then cut the barrel in half and stick it on the structure.
The barrel should be at least two feet off the ground. These beds are a great way to keep heat in, so if you live in a place that has colder weather, the plastic from the rain barrels will help trap the heat. Make sure you drill holes in the bottoms of each barrel to allow the water to drain from the soil.
Plant things that don’t get very tall or heavy in these planters to ensure the structure stays stable. Leafy greens, flowers, and peppers will do great in these beds.
4. Water-Saving Raised Bed
Instead of cutting your barrel in half, you can use it as a water collector! Set up a rain barrel above your raised bed on a small stool and add a spigot to the barrel. Leave the top of the barrel open, and any time it rains, the water will collect in the barrel. When it’s time to water your beds, open the spigot and use the rainwater. This will work on any raised bed but works best on the simple wooden raised bed plan.
This works best for plants that don’t need too much water or a specific amount. For instance, don’t plant tomatoes or cucumbers in this sort of bed. Herbs and flowers will do wonderfully.
5. Bathtub Raised Bed
Instead of throwing out that old bathtub you have sitting around, they work wonderfully for raised beds. Place it wherever you want in your yard that gets good sunlight and fill it with compost and soil. Make sure the bottom layer is some sort of mulch or pea gravel to help with drainage.
You also want to make sure the bathtub drain is open so water can drain. Next, add your layer of compost and fertilizer topped with organic and nutrient-rich soil.
Because bathtubs are generally deeper, you can plant almost anything you want in this raised bed. Tomatoes, beans, and peas all do wonderfully as long you can set up a trellis system for the plants to hold onto. Root vegetables, broccoli, and greens also do great in the bathtub.
The only vegetables that I would not recommend for this raised bed would be things like squashes, cucumbers, pumpkins etc., because they like a lot of room to stretch out and grow.
6. Cinder Block or Brick Bed
An incredibly cheap and easy way to build a raised bed is by using cinder blocks or bricks. Simply put them together in the shape you want, and you’re basically done! Chop up the ground inside your design and add a layer of soil to grow any vegetable your desire.
Depending on how many bricks or blocks you have, you can build some very fun and elaborate shapes. I’ve seen T shapes, E shapes, circles, spirals, half circles, and more. Another advantage to using bricks or cinder blocks is that they are very durable and will last many, many seasons without you having to worry about mold or them falling apart at any time.
Garden tip: If you use cinder blocks, you can also place your seeds in the holes of the cinder blocks, so the plants grow up through! Plant flowers or herbs that attract helpful pollinators in these holes; it’s a great use of space.
7. Rock Garden
Another very simple raised bed idea is to make a wall of rocks. If you have an abundance of rocks lying around, this is a great way to utilize them. Simply build up the rocks, maybe half a foot tall, in whatever shape you’d like. Break up the ground within the rock wall and add a thin layer of soil to give the bed depth.
These sorts of beds are great because, to the plant’s roots, it’s almost like you planted them directly in the ground. They love this space to stretch out and go as deep as they need to. But you also get that protection that you would from a raised bed. Rock-raised beds are extra great because, if built correctly, they can withstand lots of weather.
Anything can be planted in a rock garden, from herbs to flowers to greens. Tomatoes, beans, and peas can also be grown if you put up a small fence or trellis for them to climb on.
8. Corrugated Metal Raised Bed
Corrugated metal raised beds are a unique way to plant your garden. They also look very nice if you put the time into them. All it takes is four pieces of corrugated metal and some wood put together in a rectangle or square shape and filled with your compost and soil. They do tend to be deep, so they are great for root vegetables.
I am not the biggest fan of corrugated metal beds. I live in Northern California, and the weather will not permit me to use them, which is one of their downfalls. The metal tends to absorb heat and heat up very quickly. You may find that you have to water this raised bed much more frequently because of this.
I’d recommend corrugated metal beds for someone who lives in a much more mild summer area. Aside from that, corrugated metal is pretty pricey, so unless you are going for a look, it is much more effective to use wood.
9. The U Shaped Raised Bed
The U shape is a great design and so easy to work in. You can build it out of really any material that you desire and make it a U. This leaves room for you to walk in and have access to all of your plants, rather than having to reach across anything.
10. Sticks and Branches
A very cheap and natural way to go about raised beds is by using simply sticks! Look around your yard and find the right-sized branches, sturdy ones and make slots in the ends of them. How you would put a log cabin together is exactly how you can build this bed. It can be a fun project, and I think they look really nice when they are finished.
Because you are using dead, untreated wood for this bed, it may not last as long or hold up for longer than a couple of seasons.
11. Potato Barrel Planter
Something a bit more specific, but still a great raised bed is by just using a barrel. This is a technique that some people use to grow their potatoes. For this, you will want to leave your barrel standing up. Drill holes in the bottom of it if need be. Fill the barrel with layers of compost, fertilizer, peat moss, and soil, and you are ready to plant.
This is a great way to plant potatoes because once they are ready to harvest, the idea is that you tip over the barrel, and there are all your potatoes! Really beats having to dig so much of the ground to find them.
12. Cardboard Box Bed
Getting a raised bed together can be as easy as just planting in an old shoebox or any other cardboard box. Especially for kids, this is a super easy and fun way to have a couple of plants on your doorstep or in your backyard. Of course, smaller plants would fit better in these boxes. Flowers, a pepper plant, and one tomato plant. What’s even better is that once the plant dies, you can compost the whole thing!
Be careful watering when you are using cardboard. It probably won’t hold up for a very long season, so put something in it that has a short life span. Also, try to use cardboard that is a bit sturdier.
13. Toilet Raised Bed
Following up on the bathtub-raised bed, you can’t forget about the toilet too! If you have an old toilet lying around, or you find one at a yard sale, don’t let it go to waste! Take it home and fill it with dirt. Flowers look really wonderful in toilet-raised beds. It’s a fun and unique way to upcycle something that would otherwise be junk.
14. Wooden Milk Crate Raised Bed
Wooden milk crates, or wine crates, make great raised beds. They are easy to get ahold of, and they can look nice in your garden as well. They are deep enough to grow tomatoes, root vegetables, peas, beans, etc.! I would not recommend growing squash or cucumbers in these because there generally isn’t enough space in these crates.
The wood will most likely only last for one season, so these are a one-and-done kind of thing.
15. Wagon Raised Bed
Those old rusty wagons can be used for some good! I love how they look with flowers or even strawberries growing in them. Set it up where you’d like, fill it with organic soil and compost, and make sure there are a few holes in the bottom for soil drainage.
As I said, strawberries and flowers grow great in these and look very nice. Otherwise, any vegetables with shallow roots do best in these beds.
16. Wheelbarrow Raised Bed
The wheelbarrow is pretty much the same idea as the wagon, and I personally think they both have the cutest barnyard, homesteading vibes. A great and easy way to plant your flowers and vegetables!
17. Tree Stump Bed
If you have an old tree stump in your yard, it doesn’t have to be useless. Although it takes time and energy, you can bore out the stump, creating a perfect hole in the center. Leave about 2 inches as a border. These stumps as garden beds are very eco-friendly, and they hold in moisture wonderfully. Water will also soak into the ground below, keeping things green around the stump.
Make sure you fill the stump with good draining soil to help with water flow and don’t overwater. The stump itself will naturally hold water, and since it’s going right into the ground, you may find that you won’t need to water as often as you would normally.
Most likely, the stump being used isn’t huge. Plant something smaller, like flowers, a single tomato plant, any leafy greens, etc.
18. Mushroom Foam Bed
Mushroom foam is a newer development. It is basically plastic, or foam, made from mushroom fibers. You can purchase mushroom foam online in different shapes and sizes, even big enough to build a smaller garden bed. The mushroom foam is extremely environmentally friendly and, after a season, will decompose into the ground, or you can throw it in your compost. You can plant anything you’d like in these beds, depending on how big you build them.
The downfall is that most mushroom foam beds decompose quickly, within 90 days. So you must plant things that have short growing cycles, such as radishes. Mushroom is also a bit pricey because it’s so new.
19. Tire Raised Bed
Old tires do wonderfully as raised beds. They take minimal soil to fill, and they also have a great appearance. The fun part is you can even paint or decorate the tires to look like anything you want!
20. Staircase Raised Bed
The staircase shape is commonly built with wood, though you can also build it with corrugated metal. Build your beds so that they lay on top of each other in stair formation, going upwards. You can have as many levels to this as you’d like, but don’t make it too tall to water and get heavy.
21. Kitty Pool Bed
Kitty pools make great raised beds! They are inexpensive and a super fun way to grow your vegetables. Make sure to drill holes in the bottom for drainage. Because kitty pools have ample space, you can plant almost anything you want in these, including cucumbers and squash. Tomatoes, beans, and peas also do wonderfully, along with flowers. Root vegetables may not do as well because the pools don’t go as deep.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!