Raised Garden Bed Ideas (10 Creative Raised Bed Ideas & Alternatives)


Are you interested in adding some raised beds to your garden? Well, certainly don’t feel limited to traditional raised garden beds. There are endless possibilities and alternatives for raised garden beds.

All you need is an open mind, a little bit of creativity, and some old materials that you can upcycle!

…Oh, and this article won’t hurt, either!

Today, we’re going to go over 12 creative raised bed ideas and alternatives.

I truly cannot wait any longer to share this list with you, so let’s get started!

10 Raised Garden Bed Ideas & Alternatives

  • Kiddie Pool
  • Pond Liner
  • Storage Bin
  • Cooler
  • Rubbish Can
  • Upcycled Grill
  • Washing Machine Basket
  • Bathtub
  • Whiskey Barrel
  • Stone Wall

Kiddie Pool

The first idea on the docket is using a kiddie pool as an alternative to the traditional raised garden bed. I’m a fan of this idea due to how affordable it is to pull this off.

You can get a kiddie pool at Target or Ace Hardware for between $10-$17. That’s a steal if you ask me. 

Just because it’s a pool, doesn’t mean you have to fill it up with water! Some soil, a handful of seeds, and a light shower with a watering can will do just fine!

If you don’t like the kiddie pool aesthetic, you can simply paint the outside of the pool black — or any color that matches your garden space and your vision!

For the price of one conventional cedar raised bed, you could have up to 15 — or even 20 makeshift raised beds from upcycled kiddie pools!

Why someone would want that many raised beds — I don’t know…

…Actually, scratch that. I do know. It’s because gardeners can never have too many homes for their plants!

I personally find myself looking for additional spots for my plants quite frequently. 

So, if you’re getting a little too big to be swimming in that kiddie pool, grab some soil and bring this fabulous raised bed idea to life!

Pond Liner

Similar to the kiddie pool idea, upcycled pond liners make incredibly convenient alternatives to raised beds. 

Fish pond containers make wonderful raised beds!

You can often find black polyethylene tubs at your local hardware store. 

If you have any trouble coming across one, try these polyethylene feed pans from the Chewy website. They’re affordable, made to last, and quite suitable as an alternative to raised garden beds!

You may not have fish swimming in your pond liner, but you’ll have plenty of beautiful plants growing!

You can also scoop some beneficial earthworms into your raised bed. They’ll be happy to swim through there and till up your soil — all while helping out your garden by eating fungi and mixing up the organic matter!

You can read about how to get more worms in your raised bed, garden, or compost here.

Storage Bin

This one is a similar concept to the previous two ideas. I actually got some incredibly durable and spacious storage bins for my birthday this year and I plan on using them as raised beds in my garden. 

My father used to make black iron metal keyboard stands, so I was lucky enough to get an old, rusted keyboard stand from him. It’ll be perfect to elevate one of my storage bin raised garden beds! 

I plan on upcycling other keyboard stands (or similar objects) in the future so I can add more lovely raised beds to my garden. 

I hope ideas like this inspire you to carry out similar projects!

Just don’t forget to drill some drainage holes at the bottom so that you can prevent water stagnation in your soil!

Cooler

Got any old beach coolers lying around?

These will make wonderful raised garden beds. You can certainly elevate them onto a table or onto some other forms of makeshift legs, but you definitely don’t have to.

Sure, your plants may be safer from animals if they’re elevated — but you won’t have to worry much about the temperature of your soil either way.

Coolers work as lovely insulators (of course, since that’s what they’re for!), so when the ground begins to get colder and the end to your usual gardening season grows nearer — you can rest assured that you still have a little more time for gardening bliss. 

That’s one of the key benefits to raised beds — they keep the soil warmer than the soil in the ground. Using a cooler makes this fact even more true since it takes even longer for temperatures outside of the cooler to affect the contents inside the cooler.

Again, just make sure to grab your drill and add some holes for proper drainage!

Rubbish Can 

Some call it a trash bin — others call it a garbage barrel. It doesn’t really matter what you call it, though. What matters is what magic happens inside of it.

Why fill your rubbish cans with waste when you can fill them with something far more beautiful (and also biodegradable – which is better for the planet!)

…If you’re currently using your rubbish can for…well — rubbish — then I understand there’s probably nothing magical going on in there right now.

However, if you have old trash cans that you aren’t using for trash, why not upcycle them and turn them into chic raised bed planters?

Whether you have small plastic trash bins, medium steel rubbish cans, or large polyethylene garbage barrels — you already have some extremely useful containers that you can use as raised beds.

My personal favorites are the medium and large galvanized steel cans. They have a rustic look that I love and they look great with some spring or fall flowers planted inside. 

Ironically, these types of cans have far more curb appeal in your front yard flower garden than when they’re left out by the curb!

Upcycled Grill

I haven’t tried this one myself just yet, but I’ve seen some incredible DIY projects for this online. Try typing “grill planter” into a Google image search and you’ll see exactly what I mean. 

What a crafty way to turn an old grill into a beautiful raised garden bed!

My favorite *Upside* to using an upcycled grill as a raised bed is the fact that it already has legs — meaning it’s already well-elevated off the ground. 

Using an old grill as a raised bed is a *hot* new way to show off your lovely plants!

This will save you a lot of time and effort since you won’t have to look for other ways to elevate your raised bed. 

It doesn’t matter if you use a vintage, round, charcoal grill or a modern, rectangular grill that simply doesn’t function as a grill anymore. I’ve seen some pretty spectacular grill-to-garden-bed makeovers and I can honestly say that what you plant matters way more than what you plant it in!

When your friends come by, they’ll surely be impressed by your groovy, DIY raised garden bed.

Washing Machine Basket 

I want to give some credit for this idea to my Dad (even though according to Pinterest, other people have done this, too) because I would have never come up with this in a million years if I hadn’t seen him do it first. 

Basically, one of the neighbors was throwing out the old, inner basket to their washing machine and my dad took it off of her hands and upcycled it into a raised garden bed. 

A washing machine basket makes a superb alternative to a traditional raised garden bed.

I know I called it a washing machine basket, but some people call this part a “washing machine tub”. 

My dad calls it a dryer drum.

…Okay, now I’m attempting to fact-check myself and I’m realizing it might actually be just that — a dryer drum (you know, from the dryer, and not the washing machine).

*Makes goofy face*

Hey, we all make mistakes sometimes!

Washer, dryer… tuh·mei·tow, tuh·mah·tow! Your tomatoes will be more than happy to grow in either one!

I just double checked, though, and it looks like you can absolutely use both washer and dryer parts as makeshift raised beds (and many people do)!

So that actually makes me feel even more excited about this idea. Basically, if you have an old washer-dryer set that doesn’t work anymore (or you find any of the aforementioned parts at a junkyard), then you’re golden!

Maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to have a neighbor who puts an old dryer drum out in front of the street for trash pickup!

If it happened for my dad, it could happen for you, too!

& hey, if it doesn’t, you can get a pretty cool looking galvanized metal tub, or stock tank, from Tractor Supply Co. 

Bathtub 

Do you have an old tub sitting around that you aren’t doing anything with? Well, it might just be time to turn that tub into a lovely raised garden bed. 

It doesn’t matter what type of tub you use — especially when your options are so plentiful.

Be sure to save your old tub from before your bathroom remodel! Bathtubs make wonderfully functional and stylish raised garden beds!

Antique metal wash tubs work quite well — & they sometimes even have legs! If they don’t have legs, you can add some or simply situate your wash tub atop an outdoor-weather-friendly table!

If you have access to a vintage clawfoot tub, that will make an exceptional raised bed, too. The best part? It already has legs!

I’ve seen plenty of people across the internet use tubs for raised garden beds and I think it’s an absolutely brilliant idea.

If you’re not going to relax in your old tub anymore – let your plants relax in there!

While we’re on the subject of bathroom upcycling, I’ll admit, I’ve also seen people use toilets as raised beds. I didn’t add this idea to today’s main list, though, because I believe our readers may be a bit too classy for toilet planters. However, if you don’t think the idea is too “crappy”, feel free to give it a try!

Here at GreenUpside, we firmly believe in using what we have to support a Greener planet, so we’d never judge!

If you’re looking for a little more sophistication, though, you can’t go wrong with the bathtub raised bed idea!

Whiskey Barrel

It doesn’t get much more rustic than this. 

Wine or Whiskey – it doesn’t matter. Oak barrels make splendid alternatives to raised garden beds!

Aside from the aesthetic appeal, a key benefit to using oak barrels as raised beds is the fact that they’re well-elevated from the ground. This keeps the bed soil warm and the hungry, uninvited four-legged guests away!

If you love the idea of turning a wine or whiskey barrel into a raised garden bed, I highly recommend reaching out to your local wineries and distilleries.

Many times, if you ask in advance, the folks behind these operations are happy to sell customers pre-broken-in oak barrels at a fraction of the cost of new ones. 

Oak barrels can only be used for so long by professional winemakers and distillers. These places eventually need to purge their seasoned barrels and make room for newer ones. 

There’s no raised bed alternative more rustic than a good *old fashioned* whiskey barrel!

The more seasoned your oak barrels are — the more character they have.

So, you should definitely try getting in on some of those oak barrels!

& don’t forget — shorter, rustic wooden barrels (not necessarily wine or whiskey barrels) also make superb raised garden beds. 

Stone Wall 

Last, but certainly not least, I love the idea of building a stone wall in front of a wood fence, adding soil between the fence and rock wall, and turning that area into a raised bed for flowers and other garden crops.

Stone walls make perfect barriers for setting up landscapes. They also serve as lovely alternatives to raised garden beds!

I’ve also seen people add soil to old stone fire pits for use as raised garden beds.

Crafty, right?

I thoroughly enjoy the aesthetic of stonework, and of course, the look of lush gardens. So combining the two is…

*Chefs kiss*

Simply brilliant.

Remember — if you use a fire pit as a raised bed, it doesn’t absolutely have to be made out of stone. It could be made from bricks, cement blocks — or even metal.

Fire isn’t the only element that goes nicely with a fire pit. Earth and Water can do quite well in there, too! Just add plants!

You know those old, metal, standalone fire pits that are raised off the ground?

…You already know where I’m going with this.

The possibilities are truly endless.

Just have fun with it.

Conclusion

Now you have plenty of cool, crafty ideas for creating the raised garden bed(s) of your dreams without breaking the bank. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

You might enjoy this article about the benefits of using raised garden beds.

You might also like this post about improving soil drainage in your raised beds.

You can see GreenUpside-approved Etsy raised garden bed options for every budget here.

If you’re looking for more creative DIY projects for your garden, check out this article on unique and unusual garden trellis ideas.

Don’t forget to stop by the Best Of page to read some of GreenUpside’s most popular articles!

Thanks for reading!

I wish you a lifetime of happy upcycling, happy planting, and bountiful harvests!

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