From the piano to the bathtub: 10 creative raised-bed gardens

Sira Huwiler-Flamm

Raised beds are easy on the back, represent real eye-catchers in the garden, protect against voles and offer optimal conditions for vegetables, fruit and flowers thanks to nutrient-rich layers of soil. We show you ten inspiring raised-bed ideas – from DIY projects to high-tech all-round options.

A woman leans over a raised-bed garden and picks radishes.
© Getty Images / Hannes Eichinger

In this article

1. Modern metal

Prefabricated raised beds made of aluminum or steel are modern eye-catchers that will defy wind and weather for years. To protect your back, they are usually 70 to 120 centimeters high. If you would like to enjoy all the positive features of a metal raised bed, but are not convinced by the high gloss, lacquer and metal look, you can also opt for alternatives made of Corten steel or stainless steel.

2. A retro-touch with a piano raised bed

Do the keys clank and is it out of tune, yet you don’t want to throw away your old piano? You can breathe new life into an old instrument by transforming it into a raised bed. Important: line the cavity to be filled carefully with waterproof foil to protect it from penetrating moisture. Alternatively, an old table would make a great antique raised bed.

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3. A variety of shapes in natural stone

Natural stone can be used to create individual raised beds in an extremely wide range of shapes. Whether in simple box form, with steps or – especially popular – as an herb spiral. The advantage of natural stone: it stores the heat of the day for cold nights. These are perfect conditions for Mediterranean plants like rosemary, thyme and lemon balm. If you appreciate clear shapes just as much as you love natural stone, gabions are the right choice as bedding borders. Grids filled with natural stones are available in rectangular and column versions.

Several plants grow in the middle of a bed bordered by gabions.

Wooden planks aren’t the only option: gabions are also ideal for creating a raised bed.

4. The all-in-one solution

Since the plants in a raised bed cannot help themselves to water from the soil, they require more watering than in an open field. Retailers therefore now offer all-in-one raised-bed solutions that include irrigation systems. From simple irrigation aids that you stick into the ground to solar-powered high-tech tools, there is everything to make the amateur gardener’s heart beat faster.

5. Flexibility with wood

Wooden raised beds have a clear advantage: they can be moved around the garden from one season to the next more easily than alternatives made of stone or heavy metal. Soft wood species such as pine and spruce are less durable and weather-resistant than more expensive hardwoods such as larch, oak, bamboo or Douglas fir. Pallets that serve as edge fasteners are another popular DIY building material. If you line them with a waterproof tarpaulin or pond liner and fill them with gravel, compost and soil, you can transform them into a nutrient-rich raised bed in just a few hours. A hare wire placed on the lowest layer protects against voles. If you don’t have much space on the balcony or patio, you can use old wine or fruit crates instead of pallets – for guaranteed retro charm.

Several flowering plants grow in a raised bed.

Wooden raised beds are easier to move if necessary than those made of other materials such as stone. Hardwoods such as larch, oak, bamboo or Douglas fir are particularly durable.

6. Pyramids of brick and concrete

Brick or concrete stones are lighter and cheaper than natural stone, but still have a timeless style. Whether you build a raised bed as a pyramid or a mandala – creative garden lovers can shape their raised bed with these building materials individually stone by stone. Both materials also store heat and moisture and therefore help ensure a balanced climate in the raised bed.

7. Round shapes with tires

Do you have any worn out tires gathering dust in the basement? These can also be turned into wonderful raised beds and planters. Painting them with weather protection paint from the DIY store will give them new splendor and offer plants an original home. The tires can be filled directly with soil, and heat will be stored inside the ring.

Car tires converted into raised beds can be seen in a garden.

Pallets are not the only object that can be transformed into a raised bed. Used tires can also be adapted for this purpose.

8. Light and durable plastic

Plastic raised beds are available in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes – even with a stone, wood or metal look. Without a doubt, they are durable, easy to transport and often cheaper than other raised beds. But watch out: many cheap plastics discolor or deform when exposed to the sun for a long time. It’s important to look for plastics with UV stabilizers before you buy.

9. Bathroom upcycling

Whether it’s an old bathtub, shower tray or washbasin – all of these items are ideal for an upcycling project in the garden. Bathtubs already have water-repellent properties as well as a drain that prevents waterlogging. All you need to do is fill them with gravel, compost, soil and the desired plants. Bright green, blue and pink shades from typical 1970s bathrooms are particularly extravagant.

An antique bathtub planted with daisies stands on a wooden patio in the garden

Decorative recycling: even an antique bathtub is suitable for use as a raised bed.

10. Raised greenhouse

A cold frame attachment makes it possible to plant a raised bed in a sunny location from February onwards. Cold frame or greenhouse attachments made of Plexiglas are available in retail stores. Skilled do-it-yourselfers can build their own cold frame out of semicircular rods and a winter fleece or reinforced foil. Winter salads and vegetables that are not sensitive to the cold will thrive, well protected from the frost.

Conclusion: a raised-bed garden represents an eye-catching feature

Who would have thought that there were so many creative possibilities for designing a raised bed? The piano and bathtub raised beds are our absolute favorites. We hope that we have inspired you with our selection – and wish you lots of fun gardening!

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