What Should I Fill My Raised Garden Beds With?

If you’re a gardener who uses raised garden beds, then you know that filling them and keeping the soil healthy isn’t very cheap.

It can take a lot of soil to fill a raised garden bed, and if you’re buying soil and fertilizer every season, then I’m sure there’s been a time when you’ve wondered “how do I fill my raised garden beds for cheap?” There are many different things that you can do to help save money on filling your raised garden beds.

Keep in mind that the climate and weather patterns differ all over the world, so be sure to research the best options for raised-bed gardening in your specific area. 

What Should I Fill My Raised Garden Beds With?


What Should I Fill My Raised Garden Beds With And For Cheap?

If you are a beginner gardener, you may be wondering where to start when filling your raised bed. And you may also be looking for ways to fill it cheaply.

There are many different options, from using only bagged garden soil to layering in organic material as fillers.

There is no perfect way to fill your raised garden bed, but you must think about what is best for your plants as well as your wallet. 

If you’d like to fill your raised garden beds without breaking the bank, you’ll first need to know a few things about raised garden beds, and some of the common questions that gardeners have.

Bagged Soil

Store-bought bagged soil is probably the easiest route to take if you’re planning to fill a raised garden bed.

Though it is the easiest way, that doesn’t mean it’s the cheapest; it can be very costly depending on the size of your garden.

Most bagged garden soil is already rich in nutrients, with many of them containing added fertilizers, so when using bagged garden soil, you won’t have to supplement any nutrients. This can save you some money on fertilizer and/or compost.

The downside to only using bagged soil in a raised garden bed is that it can cause your bed to collect water or cause standing water, which can ruin your plants. 

Building your own soil

A great way to fill your raised garden bed for cheap is to build your own soil. Using a combination of Sphagnum peat moss, compost, coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, and fertilizers, you can create nutrient-rich, well-draining soil that is good at retaining moisture.

Though the ingredients may sound costly, most of them can be purchased at your local gardening or department store at a fair price.

This is the cheaper route to go if you have large, raised garden beds because you’ll have more soil when you mix it yourself. 

There are many different recipes for mixing your own soil for your raised garden bed, but they all have one thing in common: they make a few ingredients stretch a long way. 


Another way to fill a raised garden bed for cheap is by layering your soil. This is also known as the lasagna method.

This concept involves placing cardboard on the bottom of your garden bed to smother weeds and then layering in leaves, straw, or some other organic material.

Layer more cardboard and organic material to build up a thick bottom layer that will decompose and feed your plants as it breaks down.

Add compost and topsoil and water thoroughly. Be sure to allow enough room at the top of your raised garden bed for 10 to 12 inches of soil for optimal root growth.

Mix in compost and fertilizer to the top 10 to 12 inches along with the soil of your choice. 

How Deep Should My Raised Bed Be?

A raised garden bed should be built with consideration to the types of plants you want to grow. If you’re growing root vegetables or plants with deep root systems, you’ll want to be sure to build your raised garden bed a little deeper.

A good rule of thumb is for your raised garden bed to be 8 to 12 inches in total depth since most plants need around 6 to 8 inches of soil for healthy root growth. 

How Full Should I Fill My Raised Garden Bed?

You should fill your garden bed up as close to the top as possible. This doesn’t mean to overfill it though; filling it about two inches from the top of your raised bed should suffice.

Keep in mind that after you initially fill your raised garden bed and water it, the soil will compact, and you can lose a few inches in soil depth. So be prepared to add more soil, compost, or mulch to make up for any compaction. 

Good luck on your quest to fill your raised bed garden, and I hope we’ve given you some valuable tips and tricks to help you discover the cheapest way to fill a raised garden bed.  

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Nadine is a passionate gardening writer sharing practical tips, innovative ideas, and valuable insights on plant and soil care, In her spare time, she tries to convince her plants to grow by singing them catchy tunes.

Calculate the amount of soil you need for pots, raised beds or planter with the help of this easy to use Soil Calculator