Reuse Items To Create Raised Garden Beds
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Reuse Items To Create Raised Garden Beds

Reuse discarded items to easily create raised garden beds. Leave the lumber for the builders. Save a tree.

Look at discarded items in dumpsters and alongside the road on trash day as needing a second chance at life in unusual ways. Spring is the season for cleaning out all the stuff of the previous year. Spring is also time to think about gardening. Let's focus on raised beds and reusing some things that would otherwise go to the landfill.

Raised beds in the garden allow for growing more plants in a smaller space. The soil in a raised bed will be warmer for most of the growing season. The gardener has total control over the soil and doesn't have to stoop as low. The battle against weeds is greatly reduced.

Often gardeners just construct their own raised beds by making rectangles out of bought lumber. With a little vision and tilt toward whimsy, many discards can be reused for the same purpose. Take a discarded dresser. Lay it on its back and remove the drawers. If the back is made of masonite, just remove it. If not, drill drainage holes in the back. You now have a raised bed with planting sections.

My favorite item to reuse for a raised garden bed is a discarded bathtub. A claw foot tub is the best. It already comes with a drainage hole. If the faucet is still on, all the better and a shower does such an efficient job of watering.

Another favorite in our coastal area is to repurpose old boats, the leakier the better. Most smaller boats have a drain plug so you need to position the boat to drain or add more holes. If the boat comes with a mast, leave it. Don't hoist sails as the wind has been known to topple a vegetable bed!

Utility sinks may not be big but they are deep. A wall of them can easily be reused to create raised garden beds for perennial rhubarb, blueberry bushes, or raspberry canes.

Wine boxes can be placed in geometric shapes to be reused for square-foot gardening. These are perfect for succession plantings of shallow root vegetables like assorted leaf lettuces, radishes, and small carrots. Reuse these boxes along walkways or the driveway and fill with flowering annuals. All white flowers will reflect moonlight and solar lights for added safety.

Discarded thermal coolers in bright colors work well as temporary backyard divisions. They also have drainage plugs and some have wheels to rearrange if necessary. Because they are thermal, they will extend the growing season by retaining the day heat through the night.

Another item to be on the lookout for is a kiddie pool. Reuse one as a water garden raised bed with a few goldfish as a garden centerpiece. Use another for flowers and decorate with beach balls, pail and shovel.

You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to reusing discarded items for raised garden beds. A truck bed, a sofabed with bed removed, a bedframe, even a toilet have all been successfully reused.

Note: If you are not sure of the safety of an item to be used for consumable plants, line with trash bags or refinish with nontoxic or food-grade primer, paint, sealer, or stain.

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Comments (7)

A dresser? Dresser wood isn't made to withstand the elements, let alone constant watering. And I'm sure you don't want shellacs and varnishes near plants.

A real wood dresser does withstand the elements through a planting season. You did not read my Note? Drawers have also been used even without a protective coat.

I would submit that a protective coat will not stop poisons from leaching into the plants.

Well, according to the advice from paint stores, sealing old paint with food-grade primer, paint, or sealer and allowed to dry thoroughly will keep any harmful substances in check. Things like lead in paint are harmful when ingested or inhaled. Use common sense. If wood is chipping or bubbling, don't use it. Personally I line everything with contractor trash bags, poke in drainage holes, and add a layer of pea stone before filling with soil.

We have a few people around here with the clawed foot bathtub and their gardens look great!

Craig Stadler

I have found so many cool items via ecofreek.com for my garden. I personally used an old toilet as a succulent container!

Cute! I've seen this done with old toilets, lol. We did raised beds behind our cabin last year which was the first time anyone did anything with the space back there. We've lived here for two years. We have a LOT of huge rocks in the ground so we used those to build rock walls and added soil. That was no easy task at all! It didn't cost us anything but labor. I like the whimsical idea of the tub, very neat.

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