Whether I’m checking out people who’ve turned their entire front yards into food gardens on Instagram, or scrolling to find that one person on TikTok who plants the seeds from every single fruit she eats in yogurt tubs in her apartment, I’m probably not the only one who’s obsessed with raised beds and container gardens.
I love how versatile raised beds and containers are for urban gardening. There’s a solution for spaces of every size! Containers are a great way to use up every last nook of available square footage. Raised beds let you make even larger areas tidy and manageable. I also love how much easier it is to give your plants the correct soil composition. I’m probably never going to get my clay soil truly amended for the type of gardening that I most want to do, but containers and raised beds let me easily create the exact conditions for every veggie and flower to be happy and fruitful.
Because I am #quirky, I should also mention that my absolutely favorite thing about raised beds and container gardens is how easily they can be created from upcycled materials, the more unusual the better! I’ve made gardens from cinderblocks, wood pallets, scrap limestone blocks sold for a penny a pound at my local quarry, tubs ripped out of broken washing machines, cracked blender pitchers, broken coffee mugs, and so much more. It’s fun to see something take on a second life growing new life!
Below, check out my favorite DIYs for creating raised garden beds and container gardens. I hope you find something here that inspires you to create yet one more garden space out of something unusual–the quirkier the better!
Gutter Gardens, Wood and Metal Raised Garden Beds, and Bulbs in Containers
- gutter garden. Aluminum gutters, watered often and placed where they won’t get too hot, are a terrific place for salad greens to grow up peacefully away from hungry rabbits. I love that this method uses up zero ground-level real estate. Instead, it makes use of that fence that’s just standing there anyway!
- wood raised garden beds. Here’s the gold-standard method for building raised garden beds from scratch out of wood. This tutorial shows several different kinds of raised garden beds that you can build. Some have different dimensions, some have added fencing, and one has casters! Before you start this type of garden project, research wood manufacturing and processing to make sure you’re using a type of wood that you’re comfortable with.
- corrugated metal raised garden beds. Here’s a way to get the same sturdy raised gardens without using so much wood.
- bulbs in containers. Want to enjoy the beauty of bulbs but also keep your precious garden space for tomatoes? Plant bulbs in containers! Since bulbs love the cold there’s no problem with overwintering them. When their beautiful blooms fade, you can easily move their containers to the less cute part of your garden.
Fairy Gardens, Flower Pot Carrots, and Gardens from Stock Tanks or Pallet Wood
- fairy garden. Any container is suitable for a fairy garden, but my personal preference is toward the most whimsical container that I can find. I also vastly prefer homemade fairy garden accessories over store-bought ones, and any fairy garden that a kid is not allowed to touch is a fairy garden where fairies will not want to live.
- flower pot carrots. Whether you need a more foolproof method of growing carrots, or you’re simply charmed by the idea of growing something so unusual in a flower pot, these flower pot carrots are worth a try!
- pallet wood garden beds. Lumber is super expensive right now! Save a ton of money and upcycle a natural resource by using pallet wood for your garden. Here are some things to keep in mind when building with pallet wood.
- stock tank garden. Considering that everyone built a stock tank pool last summer, I’m guessing there will be quite a few stock tanks for sale on Craigslist this year…
Strawberry Towers, Cinderblocks, and Vintage Washtubs
- cinderblock raised garden. I very recently upgraded these to these taller metal raised garden beds, but until then this was exactly the type of raised garden that I used for most of my beds–strawberries and all!
- strawberry tower. If you like strawberries enough to be planting them into every available space (including the holes of your cinderblock raised garden border, ahem…), then this is the project for you!
- washtub container garden. It’s a little lousy to drill drainage holes in a beautiful vintage washtub… so don’t use a beautiful one! For every antique in great condition there are a dozen that are banged up and ready to be repurposed this way. Some might already have the drainage holes ready for you!
Herb Spirals, Gardens on Legs, and Laundry Basket Potatoes
- brick herb spiral. Upcycled bricks are an eco-friendly building material. You can also use this spiral for strawberries!
- planter boxes with legs. Especially if bending down is an issue, putting raised garden beds on legs makes them more accessible to the elderly and gardeners with mobility differences.
- laundry basket potatoes. Here’s a good way to upcycle the plastic laundry basket that you’ve been longing to replace.
Broken Coffee Mugs, Wood Pallets, and DIY Grow Boxes
- broken coffee mug planter. Small coffee cups are good for succulents, while the large ones that I favor are good for windowsill herbs.
- pallet vertical garden. This type of vertical garden has become quite popular–my local natural foods co-op even has a class to teach people how to make them out of plastic barrels! The pallet planter in this tutorial holds strawberries, but there’s actually a wide variety of plants that grow well in this setup.
- grow box. Here’s an interesting DIY that incorporates a box, a homemade wooden box, and a trellis.
Blender Pitchers, Buckets, and Container Garden Stands
- blender pitcher planter. A cracked blender pitcher is the end of the world for your blending needs, but the beginning of a whole new life as a planter!
- bucket garden. Source buckets from restaurants, and have an unlimited supply of containers for gardening! I incorporate buckets into my gardening every year, and I love easy they are to plant in. They do allow your plants to become waterlogged far more easily than clay pots do, so make sure you drill a ton of holes into the bottom of each bucket.
- container garden stand. This DIY is designed to work best with buckets, but you can modify it to work with clay pots, too, or really any container with a lip.
Do you have a favorite way to make a raised garden bed or a container garden? Tell me about it in the Comments below!