Create raised flower beds with free material

Raised flower beds have many functions like creating a focal point in the landscape or making a planting area higher for chair-bound gardeners. A raised flower bed, when filled with fresh soil, can counter the effects of poor soil and drainage at ground level. Homeowners can build or create raised flower beds with free material by investigating recycling options.

Railroad Ties

The railroad ties can be positioned to form any shape like a square, diamond or pentagon. The ties can also be stacked and secured together with long bolts to create taller raised flower beds. In the picture above, railroad ties line the left side of this flower bed to create a raised border next to the roadway. A tier-effect is created when a semi-parallel row of railroad ties is placed about 10 inches higher on the opposite side of the flower bed (center of picture) to create separation between the flower bed and a gravel walkway.

To find free, used railroad ties your area, place a wanted ad in the newspaper or on Craigslist requesting free railroad ties. There may be homeowners with railroad ties in their landscape who want to change their landscaping and are willing to give away their railroad ties to anyone who will come and get them. Watch for news clips about old railroad tracks scheduled for removal. The railroad administrators may be willing to give away the used ties, saving them money from having to transport the ties away.


Old rubber tires can be painted or left as-is to create a raised flower bed. Use a single tire or multiple tires for flowers or vegetables. Tires of varying sizes can be stacked to create a tier. Place a large tire (minus the rim) flat on the ground and fill it with soil before placing a smaller diameter tire on top. The side of tire shown above was cut to create a decorative, urn-like effect. Image courtesy of Fisherga, rights

To find free used tires in your area, contact local service stations and automotive centers or place an ad in the newspaper or online in the wanted category of Craigslist. Tractor service and repair shops may also be a source for large tires.

Concrete Blocks or Bricks

Used blocks or bricks can be cleaned and used to create a raised flower bed. If a portion of the block or brick is damaged, turn it to the inside of the bed. In the picture, two rows of stacked brick, one imbedded almost completely in the ground, create a shallow raised flower bed. These recycled bricks came from an old patio. The bricks could have been mortared together to stack them higher.

To find free used concrete blocks or bricks, place an ad in the wanted section of the newspaper or on Craigslist. Homes being remodeled can be a source of concrete blocks or bricks, and the homeowners may be willing to give the material to anyone who will haul it away.