How to make an upcycled raised garden bed

Many urban people wonder whether their children will “miss out on experiences” if they move to the countryside. Well, I grew up in the country and I wouldn’t have had it any another way. Growing up in the country was the best thing my parents could ever give to me as a child. I learnt about the natural cycles of life and had so much fun climbing trees, caring for my horse, duck and black chook. I want to give my son a similar experience but I  live on an urban block. So I decided to bring the country life into our backyard.

A veggie patch was my first mission. I gathered a few friends and sourced as many recycled materials as I could find.

making of the garden
IMG_2451Natural Cycles

My first task was to observe the natural cycles. I watched the the sun move across the garden space to understand the shadow effect. Most veggies and herbs need a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sun each day. Once we decided that our space was good to go, we cleared it out and measured it up, scribbling a plan on cardboard.


For the frame we chose recycled corrugated iron sheets that we sourced on a friends farm.  We used untreated hardwood stakes to hold the frame up and for that special final touch on the edges we used recycled decking timber. We decided to go with the shabby chic style.DSCN3278

One of our first challenges was cutting all the corrugated iron sheets. At first we tried cutting the iron with metal snippers. Wow, very time consuming and hard on the hands, not to mention dangerous. So after researching, we finally found that using a hammer and screwdriver was the fastest and safest method (without a machine). It was a very effective technique. You position the screwdriver and then hammer the tip of the screwdriver which then slices through the corrugated iron. This method kept my hands away from the sharp edges of the corrugated iron and cut the sheets fairly quickly.

The hardest and most frustratDSCN3282ing challenge were the roots we came across as we were digging the trench to fit in the side panels. The huge roots were from an old mango tree that had been cut down many years ago by previous owners. Some of the roots we smashed out with an axe and then thrown into the base of the garden. In other areas of the garden we simply cut the corrugated iron to fit around the root.

Once the frame was up, we collected twigs, soil, small rocks and partly filled the raised garden bed.  As the garden beds were quite deep, we sourced local garden supplies and topped the beds up with good quality garden soil. The garden was planted and now the rest is history.

Caution: corrugated iron is very sharp. You need to use the appropriate tools and safety equipment.

See what it looks like today!


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Laila Helena is a BHSc Naturopath who has had a lifetime of sustainable living and Permaculture. She teaches people to be self-reliant and live consciously. The possibility of a sustainable planet has inspired her to create a business that works towards this sustainable future.

8 thoughts on “How to make an upcycled raised garden bed

  1. Hey Layla!
    How nice is to see you, and your project!
    Thank you for sharing!!
    I send you lots of love and kisses from Brazil!
    Proud of you, Woman!

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