cheap ways to fill raised garden bed
Homesteading for Beginners - Organic Gardening

Gardening on a Budget: How to Fill a Raised Garden Bed Cheap

This growing season, it’ll be 3 years since we built our raised bed garden. We have two separate areas where we grow our crops. There is a small traditional in-ground garden and a raised bed garden. We chose to put in a raised bed garden because the soil was very poor. It was just easier for use to expand the garden by putting in the raised beds instead of amending the soil. There’s just too much rock in it.

Filling raised beds with soil can be expensive but it doesn’t have to break the bank! In this guide, we’ll explore cost-effective and organic methods to fill your raised garden bed, ensuring a bountiful harvest without compromising on quality or sustainability.

How to Fill a Raised Garden Bed Cheap

Start with Quality Soil

Invest in a good base of organic soil. Look for local composting facilities or gardening centers that offer bulk options. Mixing your own soil blend can be cost-effective and tailored to your plants’ needs.

We opted to buy soil from a local nursery. There was an option to buy in bulk and have a load of soil delivered. 

Recycle Yard Waste

Consider recycling yard waste like leaves, grass clippings, and small twigs. Composting these materials not only saves money but also enriches your soil naturally. However, you can also consider using some of the yard waste to fill in the bottom of the raised bed.

DIY Compost Bin

Create your own compost bin using kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, plant-based materials, and yard waste. Homemade compost is a nutrient-rich, cost-free solution that reduces waste and supports a healthy garden ecosystem.

Explore Free Mulch Options

Contact local tree services or municipal waste facilities for free wood chips or mulch. Mulching not only conserves moisture but also enhances soil fertility over time. You can even try services like ChipDrop. 

ChipDrop finds local tree companies in your area and notify them that you’d like a drop off. However, using such services doesn’t guarantee the quality of the mulch being dropped off.


Consider using well-aged manure from local farms. It’s an excellent organic fertilizer and can be sourced inexpensively or even for free. Call around to local farmers to see if you can have any of their manure.

Utilize Cover Crops

Cover crops are an integral part of regenerative agriculture, farming, and gardening. A cover crop is used to improve soil health; slow down soil erosion; help prevent weeds, pests, and diseases; attract beneficial insects; and enhance the soil’s water availability. It’s essentially a green mulch, or living mulch, that’s used to capture and add minerals back into the soil. These crops’ main purpose is to grow to replenish the soil and then are cut down to be used as a mulch.

Grab some seeds and spread them liberally and heavily in your garden beds. They’ll do the rest!

[RELATED POST: Learning the Basics About Cover Crops: What the Benefits Are and How to Use Them in the Garden]

filling raised garden beds diy
Mustard cover crop


Pieces of wood or small logs can be used in the bottom of your raised beds. The logs not only help to fill the beds, but they also provide organic matter that provide nutrients for the soil as they break down. This is an idea that comes from the gardening method known as hügelkultur.


Another layer that can be used is cardboard. Instead of throwing out all of those boxes from your online orders, reuse them in the garden. They’re not only great for filling raised beds, but they help to kill off weeds or keep weeds at bay.

how to fill a raised bed garden cheap


By adopting these budget-friendly and organic methods, you can fill your raised garden bed with nutrient-rich soil without compromising your commitment to sustainable gardening practices. Remember, a thriving garden doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag – nature provides us with plenty of affordable solutions! Happy gardening!

Additional Information You’ll Want to Know About Hügelkultur

According to the website Permaculture’s article, “The Many Benefits of Hugelkultur”,

“The gradual decay of wood is a consistent source of long-term nutrients for the plants. A large bed might give out a constant supply of nutrients for 20 years (or even longer if you use only hardwoods). The composting wood also generates heat which should extend the growing season.
Soil aeration increases as those branches and logs break down… meaning the bed will be no till, long term.
The logs and branches act like a sponge. Rainwater is stored and then released during drier times. Actually you may never need to water your hugel bed again after the first year (except during long term droughts).”

Permaculture. (n.d) The Many Benefits of Hugelkultur.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *