Combining corrugated steel panels with wood can make a great raised bed for your homestead.
Raised beds offer advantages to growing vegetables and other foods. Soil in the raised beds dries out and warms up quicker for an earlier start in the growing season. They make planting, weeding, and harvesting easier on your back. Below I discuss a cost-effective method that I use to extend the lifespan of raised beds.
Most raised beds are constructed with lumber. However, the downside to only using lumber is that it comes into direct contact with the moist soil, preventing longevity of the beds. Galvanized corrugated roof panels (Figure 1) can last anywhere between 25-60 years when used in standard roofing application. The galvanized steel is durable and rust-resistant. The panels are relatively light when corrugated, too. Raised beds built with these materials can last approximately 15 years.
Typical raised beds (10"-12") can use 2' x 2' lumber or even 2' x 4' cut in half. IF using halved 2' x 4' and it's not true dimensional rough-cut lumber, the measurement will be closer to 2' x 1.75' (Figure 2). I purchased the steel panels for $15 each. There are different ways to save on these types of materials. For lumber, get scraps from construction projects or even cut boards from fallen trees on your property. Get some steel panels from reclaimed barn roofs or from residential roof jobs.
As you can see above in figure 2, I ran out of steel corrugated panels and used scrap PVC panels on one short side. It may not last as long on that side. however it saved me from buying a whole panel to only use a quarter of it. Building 2'-3' or higher beds with just lumber, or even just masonry, will quickly multiply the expense and labor. This hybrid method produces the affordability to build for height or massively reduces the cost of a standard raised bed.
Corrugated steel panels measure eight feet, ten feet, and 12 feet. Thicker corrugated panels reduce the need for a supporting structure. The beds in figure 2 were constructed with a thinner, wavy corrugated panel. (8 feet long) Some beds are constructed entirely from steel, although they may lose the aesthetic appeal of wood. Examples of these bed can be found here and here.
It's important to have a well thought-out plan for raised beds because they become almost impossible to rearrange, correct, or move once they are built, positioned, and filled. Please contact us if you need help planning, designing, or building your bed arrangement and other growing systems.
Whether you prefer taller raised beds for gardening ergonomics or you plan on using the taller beds for Hugelkultur. Constructing your beds in this manor may save you time and resources while achieving your gardening build goals. In future posts we will further investigate other types of raised beds, for example, earthbag, cord wood, and more.