Create a Raised Garden Bed

Raised garden beds are a good option if you have heavy/wet soils, if it difficult for you to bend down too low, or if you have small animals free-ranging that might damage your young plants.

At the Sharing Garden we have made some quick and easy raised beds from wooden pallets - a free resource that is less likely to contaminate the soil than treated timber products.

What we used to make the bed

  • 2 wooden pallets that could easily be sawn in half
  • 8 large nails
  • weed mat
  • small tacks

What we used for fill

  • waste paper/cardboard
  • old logs/branches and woodchips
  • 'greens' like horse manure and grass clippings
  • 'browns' like old leaves and straw

What we did

Two pallets were each sawn in half, creating the 4 sides. The sides were joined with 2 nails in each corner, top and bottom.

Pallet raised bed

Weed mat was trimmed to size to line the sides. A few cm of the top edge was folded over and it was attached to the top of the sides with tacks. You could use old carpet if this is what you have available.

Pallets nailed Weed mat

Newspaper/cardboard was used to cover the ground to suppress weeds, coming a bit further out than the sides. In the base, we started filling the beds with old logs and bits of branches. This is based on a technique called h├╝gelkultur (from Sepp Holzer) where the wood will slowly decompose in the base to provide nutrients a bit of extra warmth and help retain moisture.

Newspaper and carboard Branches

Wood chips hugelkultur

We filled in around the bigger bits of wood with fresh wood chips, so the lower half of the bed was filled with woody material.

Grass clippings Old leaves

Horse manure Straw

The rest of the bed was filled with alternating layers of 'green' and 'brown' materials until the bed was slightly mounded to allow for some settling. If we'd had water handy, we would have been wetting the layers as we worked, but in this case we left it for the rain to do it.

Raised garden bed made from pallets

You could plant seedlings directly into the bed with a handful of compost for each one.

The beds cost us next to nothing to make as most of the materials (except nails and straw) were free resources that would otherwise have been considered waste - even the weed mat was discarded from another garden. They are also fairly lightweight and easy to move or dismantle. They could be a good option for rental properties if the landlord will allow a bit of space for a garden.