Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

A garden is an investment. You invest your time, certainly, but you also invest your money. While it can be expensive to put in a garden it doesn't have to be.

We moved into this house three years ago and until now I haven't had the time required to put in a proper garden. After measuring the area that was to become our outdoor pantry I estimated a one-time expense of over $300 to put in raised beds using cedar planks. I chose cedar because of its natural insect repellent properties, as well as its availability and low cost. At first I thought that I'd need to put in 1" X 6" planks, but after watching the excellent tutorials on building raised beds from John at Growing Your Greens I was confident that cedar fencing would work just fine. Then I had a thought- I wondered if I could get used, weathered but still viable cedar fencing for free?

Raised bed from free cedar fence boards. This is the first of many.

I called a local fence company and sure enough, all I have to do is show up and I can get all of the free fencing I desire. Whenever a fence company replaces a fence they have to do one of several things with the old material:

  • Haul it off to the dump. There are fees, which cut into the profits.
  • Put the old wood into a shredder and turn it into mulch. This would be a good use for cedar fencing, but they'd still have to pay someone to remove all of the nails in order to avoid damaging the expensive blades in the shredder. Increased labor costs equate to decreased profits.
  • Let the boards pile up in a corner of the lot where the fence company is located. Not ideal- in addition to being a fire hazard, it would take years for the boards to break down and become soil. In one busy season they'd be overwhelmed with old fencing.
  • Allow gardeners and do-it-yourselfer types to pick through the piles and re-purpose the cedar boards for free.

This makes me happy. Not only have I just saved over $300, I'm doing something good for the environment by recycling.

Views: 4553

Comment by Yvonne on January 7, 2012 at 7:31pm

Excellent idea - well done and they look so neat.  Sadly, nothing like that available here.

Comment by Marianne Smith on January 7, 2012 at 9:03pm

Good thinking!  Recycled/Re-purposed material is the best kind and the price is just right.

Comment by Will Atkinson on January 8, 2012 at 12:40am

Thanks Marianne and Yvonne. Yvonne, look on the bright side- I have access to free cedar planks, but you have access to the beach!

Comment by Justin Scott on January 8, 2012 at 7:23am

Well done! Looks great, im so jealous! Im having to settle with untreated pine but atleast it was all free too. Guess ill be debugging more than i would like but my wallet will still be thick!

Comment by Yvonne on January 8, 2012 at 8:41am

Very true - it's an amazing spot that I'm still getting used to and still spend much of my time in awe of nature and my surroundings, so not complaining at all.  : ))

Comment by Julie Clark on January 10, 2012 at 10:26am

We started off with 4 raised beds using wood we already had but when the wood ran out I needed more garden beds and didn't want to go to any expense...so I built the raised beds sort of "lasagna style" right on the ground! First layers of cardboard and newspapers to kill weeds, then watered the area. Then layers of compost, shredded leaves, compost, grass clipping, compost, leaves, until I had used up the natural materials on hand...I made 3 beds with what I had and soon added 2 more. I'm building one more this week...raised beds don't have to be made of wood...and it is a pain weeding around them! With the raised beds built on the ground, we just use a push mower right up to the edge and let the clippings blow onto the beds....

Comment by Aliza Ess on January 12, 2012 at 6:30pm

Beautiful deep bed, and I bet the cedar works great as a natural insecticide!


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