5 Cheapest Way to Fill Raised Beds: Not Everybody Knows!

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

cheapest way to fill raised beds

Filling your entire raised bed with healthy soil is undoubtedly an elegant approach. However, it is rather costly. It is wise to consider filling a raised garden bed cheaply rather than spending a lot of money, especially if you plan to have several raised beds.

So what is the cheapest way to fill raised beds? There are other methods, but specifically, you should fill raised beds with logs, branches, twigs, and other organic materials to save money.

What Are the Cheapest Methods to Fill Raised Beds?


Method 1: Core Gardening Method

This method is relatively easy to do. It creates a “sponge” located at the center of the raised beds. It intends to hold water and spread moisture in your raised bed for two feet in both directions. Here are the four easy steps on how to do this method.

  • Cardboard must be put on the bottom of raised garden bed to prevent grass or weeds from sprouting.
  • Dig a 10-inch-deep trench down the center of your soil.
  • Next, fill the core with organic materials such as dried leaves, grass clippings, or twigs. However, the most recommended material for this is straw.
  • Cover your core with high-quality soil after filling it with organic materials. You can use cheap garden soil or topsoil, manure, composts, or vegetable matter.

Using this method reduces the number of times you need to water the garden and is cost-effective. You can collect leaves or clippings without spending any money. Or if you prefer to use a straw, which is the most recommended, you still don’t need to spend much money on it.

Method 2: Hugelkultur Method


Another method to fill a raised garden bed cheaply is the Hugelkultur Method. It may appear complicated, but it is actually easy and effective.

Logs buried in the raised bed are beneficial because you won’t need much soil. That’s why using large logs can be one effective organic material for filling raised beds cheaply.

  • You can find grass clippings, twigs, branches, logs, and other rotting materials.
  • Then, place them deep in the soil. The soil quickly decomposes these materials and produces nutrients that help plants grow.

Method 3: Ruth Stout Method


Ruth Stout is the traditional gardening method, and it is easy to do for even a new gardener. You can follow these steps to make sure the raised beds are filled:

  • Collect a pile of wood chips, twigs, leaves, and other organic mulch in the soil.
  • Dig 6 inches into the wood chip layer and plant them in the soil. Make sure you are aware of the type of wood chip to use.

In the process, it will provide nutrients to the vegetables while also assisting the soil in retaining moisture.

Method 4: Lasagna Gardening Method


The Lasagna Gardening Method works by piling organic materials on raised garden bed soil layers. Basically, this method consists of multiple layers of organic materials inside your garden bed.

Here are the three steps you can follow to do this type of gardening method:

  • Put cardboard on the bottom to prevent the grass and weeds from sprouting. This will act as the first layer and will be decomposed over time.
  • Create the second layer using organic materials. For example, grass clippings and straw can be used. It is best if you put in this layer the organic wastes that absorb water.
  • Next, create the third layer and fill it with green wastes like dried leaves and vegetable matter.
  • Cover it with topsoil or compost.

Suppose you wish to use this strategy to raise the height of your garden bed. You can keep adding layers until you reach the desired bed height.

Method 5: Buy Soil in Bulk

You may think that using the cheapest garden soil to fill your entire raised bed is acceptable because it is less expensive than potting soil.

Purchasing individually bagged soil may cost you a lot, especially if you plan to create plenty of raised beds. You may spend 3-5 dollars per bag when you need to fill your garden beds with it.

However, this is not recommended because that type of cheap soil for the garden breaks down humus and organic materials faster.

What you need for your raised beds is the type of soil that will generate nutrients from organic components to enrich the plants for a long period.

Therefore you’ll need the right type of soil. 60% topsoil or garden soil, 30% compost, and 10% potting soil are the recommended soil proportions.

Buying bulk garden soil and potting soil is indeed the best way to get cheap soil for raised beds.

Frequently Asked Questions


How much soil do you need to fill a raised garden bed?

It’s important to determine first how much soil you’ll need before getting into the various methods of filling raised beds on the cheap. To calculate the soil volume, multiply the width, length, and depth of the beds.

For example, if your raised bed is 7 feet wide, 4 feet long, and 2 feet deep, you need 56 cubic feet of soil to fill your garden bed.

Also, read this article now to know the deep of a raised garden bed.

Can you fill a raised bed with just compost?

No. Simply filling your raised bed with compost will make your plants less healthy. Pure compost reduces the oxygen level in the soil, which can make the roots rot. It can also affect the leaf color of the plants.

Compost is beneficial to plants in delivering nutrients and adding quality to the soil when mixed properly with topsoil and potting soil. The recommended proportion for its usage is 30% only. That’s why there is still a limit to its use.


Now that you know that using organic materials is the cheapest way to fill raised beds, all you have to do is decide which method to use!

If you want a sponge-like technique, try the Core Gardening Method; if you wish to quick decomposition, do the Hugelkultur Method or Lasagna Gardening!

Do you consider the traditional way? Try the Ruth Stout Method. Are you planning to create several raised beds? Consider Buying Soil in Bulk!.

Hopefully, you learned a lot from this post and will be able to make inexpensive, but wonderful raised beds in your garden!

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