How to build safe, inexpensive raised beds in the city to avoid your neighbors fertilizers

jmachledt Posts: 26 ✭✭✭

Any recommendations on how to build safe, inexpensive raised beds in the city to avoid your neighbors fertilizers?

Our neighbors treat their lawns with who knows what and we have a drain in our backyard, so we know we’re getting run off. We want to eat our food, thus we don’t want it drenched in unknown chemicals. We would need the beds to be elevated off the ground to prevent run off. We don’t want to use pressure treated lumber, plastic, etc as those do not seem healthy/safe for growing food.

Is corrugated metal a safe material for the sides? I see all kinds of materials (EX: cinder blocks), but have heard they aren’t safe for growing food. We’re also trying to do this on a budget. We have 5 beds and a 20x20+ space to try to convert to being off the ground, so it will have a lot of cost.

We would welcome any suggestions!


  • Jens the Beekeeper
    Jens the Beekeeper Posts: 651 admin

    If you go over the the prairie homestead they build their entire garden of raised bed with corrugated steel panels.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Cement blocks are ok. Cinder blocks are not.

    Some of the corrugated metal is very pretty and shoudl last for a bit. Maybwe you local supplier has seconds that would be cheaper.

    I use pallets (hp only - only they are marked and have no chemicals on them) I can get them for free here so its cheap fo me to make a garden. I line them with landscape fabric, which will do about ten mini gardens and will cast about $5 around here.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am looking into watering troughs, in my case more to keep creatures out and for mobility.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,640 admin

    @jmachledt Is it possible to create a small ditch that goes along the side of your property directed towards the drain? You could put in drain pipe (its called Big O in my area) and then cover with small rocks before burying or even make an attractive dry creek bed. That might help mitigate some of the suspect run-off before it gets to your garden beds.

    There are plants that you could put along the property line between you that will help to remove toxins from the soil.,cheap%2C%20clean%20and%20sustainable%20process.

    Metal roofing (or siding) panels would work really well as you can bury the bottom edge and help prevent weed growth and critters burrowing in. A caution on the top edge. If you have old hose, cut a slit in it length wise and place over the top edge of the metal to avoid injuries.

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 952 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I think Amy Stross, who wrote the Suburban Micro-Farm (I could be wrong), went to her neighbor and tactfully explained that she would be growing organic food and was worried about the chemicals. The neighbor didn't even really know why he was spending so much money on his lawn and agreed to stop the treatment.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Tave It makes you wonder how many people are buyings lots of fertilizers and pesticides "because that's the way we've always done it", rather than out of any real need.

    I have very few problems with insect pests, though no spraying at all has been done in the 8 years I've lived here. My lawn is not the thick, gorgeous green of the neighbors heavily-treated lawns, but I can safely eat dandelion leaves from my lawn and they can't.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    John Dromgoole, the famous gardener in Central Texas often talked about home owners being the worst polluters in dumping all kinds of chemicals into their lawns and gardens. He said home owners are far worse than big ag because collectively homeowners could afford to spend more on the chemicals - although that may not be true anymore! But the largest irrigated crop in America is lawns...

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,917 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Which is one of many reasons why I did not put in a lawn when I moved into my house and I removed what little lawn existed.