The cost of building a raised garden bed can vary based on a number of factors. For instance, if you built the bed yourself from scratch, if you ordered a kit or if you paid a professional to install one for you. There are costs and benefits to each of these methods and there is no wrong way to get started when it comes to gardening. In this article we will break down the monetary and time costs of two of these options to help you decide what is the best way for you to build the perfect raised garden bed.
Raised garden beds come in all shapes and sizes. Common materials that raised garden beds are made of include: wood, metal, and plastic. While each of these materials has benefits like being cheap, easy to attain or being long lasting, they all have drawbacks as well.
At first glance metal might seem like a great option for a raised garden bed. Afterall, it is cheap and will definitely last for a long time, right? Sort of, you see after a while metal begins to rust which can lead to sharp edges, deterioration, and metal leaching into your soil. Even galvanized metals which should last longer are treated with zinc which will seep into your soil and will eventually be absorbed by your plants.
Plastic is another material that people are often drawn to for building their garden beds. Unfortunately, garden beds suffer from similar issues as metal beds. Health conscious individuals might want to stray away from using plastic as a garden bed material as the chemicals used to create the plastic can seep into the soil. Not to mention, plastics tend to warp and don’t breath. The impermeability of plastic and metal can make it easy to overwater and kill your plants.
What about wood? It’s an organic material, it has to be better than metal and plastic, right? Yes, to a certain extent. Unfortunately, many raised garden bed kits use treated wood which can be toxic, again leading to issues for your soil and eventually your plants. However, it is possible to attain untreated wood, which is far better for your soil, but will eventually rot and need to be replaced. If you are okay with replacing your raised garden bed siding every 6 or so years then wood might be a good material for you.
Ready for the best solution we can offer? At Durable GreenBed we use a combination of 85% mineralized wood and 15% cement. This combination is based on the Faswall® green building system which is renowned for being the most environment-friendly and healthy building material available. This material is sturdy, durable, non-toxic and breathes, allowing for healthy soil. As an added bonus, it even helps to repel some pests (slugs can’t stand it). I truly cannot recommend a better material than Durable GreenBed. But if you are not convinced yet, we will spend the rest of this article comparing the cost of building a cedar raised bed (4’x8’x12”) and a Durable GreenBed (4’x8’x13”) kit.
No matter what kind of raised garden bed you are building, the first thing you need to do is to prepare the area where you are going to put it and gather materials for the project. This means clearing and leveling the area for the garden bed. If you are unable to clear the area for any reason, or if the area happens to be in a funny shape, a custom built raised garden bed is always a nice alternative. Keep in mind that custom raised garden beds do tend to get a little more expensive than what we are talking about today.
For a do it yourself wood raised garden bed you will need to head over to the store to pick up a few things. Your shopping list will probably include 2x12x8’ rough sawn cedar (currently $36.57 at the HomeDepot), 5/16”x4” galvanized lag screws (currently $0.63 each at boltdepot), 5/16” galvanized washers (currently $6.93 at the HomeDepot), 4x4x54 cedar posts (currently $67.99 at the HomeDepot), a quart of non-toxic stain (currently $16.48 at the HomeDepot), 2x6x12’ cedar decking (currently $43.28 at the HomeDepot) and deck screws (currently $6.98 at the Lowes).
For a Durable GreenBed kit all you need to do is order it online and it will show up at your door with (6) 45.5x12x2”GreenBed planks, aluminums corner fixtures, aluminum joiners, a bag of fasteners, plastic stakes and, pre-drilled and finished top rail pieces.
If you are going to be building your do it yourself wood bed you will need the right tools for the job. These tools will include: electric drill, socket wrench, hammer, measuring tape, square, level, chop saw, crush or roller to apply wood finish, safety glasses and access to a truck to haul lumber. You may have some of these tools at home, or you may need to purchase them at your local hardware store.
In contrast, to put together your Durable GreenBed kit, you simply need a hammer, an electric drill with a Phillips bit and ¼” nut driver and a ¼” socket wrench.
Time and Money
You can expect to spend approximately 5-8 hours and $210.11, building your do it yourself wood raised garden bed. This might seem like a pretty good deal overall, but remember you will need to replace the wood every 6 years or so when it begins to rot. If you want to use your homemade, custom built raised garden bed for 20-25 years, that comes out to a lifetime ownership cost of approximately $840.44. By comparison, your Durable GreenBed kit will only take somewhere around 45-90 minutes to install. This bed will last around 20-25 years and cost approximately $509 for its entire lifetime.
No matter how good of a carpenter you are, your do it yourself wood bed will only be usable for 6-8 years and will be attractive for even less time. However, a Durable GreenBed kit is useable for 20-25 plus years and stays attractive for just as long. A homemade raised garden bed might be cheaper in the short term, but it will cost you far more time and money in the long run. So what is the cost of a raised garden bed? Well, it could be your entire Saturday and $210.11 (four times) or it could be 45-90 minutes and $509. The choice is yours, but it seems like a no brainer to me!