Use Recycled Materials to Create Raised Beds

A raised garden bed made of recycled cinder blocks with green vegetables growing out of it.

If you have a lawn and flower beds in your yard, then you probably understand the struggle of keeping them separate from one another. Grass can be as invasive as any weed and will infiltrate any surrounding area seemingly while you sleep. But there are ways to create a dividing line that will allow the flowers to view the lawn from a distance. Of course, you could hire someone to build you some raised beds, but this DIY project is easy to tackle. Plus, if you’re resourceful you can do it on the cheap with salvaged or upcycled materials. Here are some ideas to create raised beds using recycled materials in your yard.

Pallet Boards

A series of raised garden beds made from recycled wood.

One material that is easy to find in most areas is wood shipping pallets. Because pallets are made of wood, they can be disassembled and reused anywhere a regular board is needed, granted you take the proper precautions. Pallets can be found via online sites such as Craigslist and buy/sell boards on Facebook. You will also see them stacked by the Dumpster and/or behind many stores in their alleys. Most businesses are happy to let you have them, but it's best to ask first before rehoming them. Once you've got your hand on the pallets you need, use a reciprocating saw to cut through the nails or screws. Alternatively, a strong hammer, crowbar, and some determination will loosen the boards. Be sure to save the 2x4 pieces, too. Then, simply use the boards to build a box for your raised bed.

Concrete Blocks

If pallet boards aren’t your style, you want more longevity, or you have your heart set on a stone retaining wall, look for concrete blocks at estate sales, garage sales, and online. You can also check at your local Habitat for Humanity. Since they’ve been used before, you can feel good about reusing and saving some money over purchasing them new. Concrete blocks have a distinct advantage over wood beds in that they can be used for a retaining wall down the length of the yard without needing anything to hold them together. Plus, they are ultra-durable, often lasting decades with little more than occasional cleaning and releveling.


A raised stone garden bed next to a patio with a bistro chair and table.

For hundreds of years, fencing and retaining walls were created from the boulders of the earth. If you know someone who can’t seem to get rid of their supply, hit them up for a delivery and you’ll be on your way. Rocks can also be collected in nature, picked off your own land, or found through an online selling board. With your pile of rocks ready to go, you could just dry stack them. Know that a dry stack will readjust and tumble at some point. A more long-term solution is to mortar the rocks together. For a wall that could last centuries, use wire to frame it in, give a surface for the mortar to grip, and hold the structure together almost permanently.

Other Materials

A quick scan of Pinterest can give you myriad ideas of how to line your flower bed with pizzazz and a personal touch. Consider a row of upside down wine bottles, wooden stakes, short fencing, or aluminum sheeting. For a small bed, you could line up plastic tubs, bury them underground, and fill them with flowers or bulbs. You could use shorter pallet boards vertically, bricks stacked on top of each other, or a combination of materials. Get creative with what you have around the house or have access to already.

It's also important to think about the end goal and what maintenance will be required from your raised garden beds. For example, if you use wire, the grass will likely grow through it. If you choose railroad ties, you either need to install a mow strip or take the extra step of dragging out the edger after each mow. Lay out your design in your mind on paper or in the yard before you get started for the best results.