You’d be amazed at how much longer it takes galvanized metal to rust throughout verse untreated, mild steel. Second to Corten steel, galvanized is my go-to outdoor material for all things homesteading.
In comparison to mild steel, the cost to upgrade to galvanized steel is not much at all. Most galvanized metals are done through a hot dip method, which makes the process of coating each piece of steel quick and easy from the factory.
Now, if you aren’t familiar with galvanized steel, you’re most commonly going to find this material alongside outdoor items that require durability against water. Think livestock tanks, fencing, barn bolts/hardware etc. In simple terms, galvanizing is a coating or process rather, that adds a protective layer to mild steel. The coating is made from zinc and basically stops rust from occurring. While all metals rust, even when painted, the zinc coating greatly slows down the process. You can usually expect a service life of fifty years or more when you opt for galvanized steel.
So, why has galvanized steel become so popular when it comes to raised garden beds? For one, the durability, but perhaps the most key part to this all, is that you can find the material on a lot of farm equipment.
Livestock tanks can be repurposed, as can highway guard rails, and so on. There’s a local company near use that sells used highway guard rails for cheap, as in you could build a raised garden bed for under a hundred dollars easily. We’ve found livestock tanks however, to be the perfect size, whereas the guard raised can require some modification.
Best of all, the look of galvanized steel is wonderful and leans more towards the modern side. Take a look below all some of our favorite designs and you’ll know exactly what we mean.
A mitered wood edge border adds a wonderful touch to these ribbed galvanized steel panels. Note the interior wood post supports for additional strength and the round tube steel on the exterior. Most galvanized panels are light gauge material which means they can’t hold back the filled dirt on their own.
For a garden bed that’s near effortless, old galvanized livestock tanks and buckets can be a cheap, efficient choice. Let’s face it, most livestock tanks corrode at a certain point in time. Why not recycle them and give them another useful life?
Another beautiful rectangle galvanized raised garden bed that combines both steel and wood accents. A nice mitered wood top adds a less contemporary look.
If you’re not into the wood look, you can get away with using steel panels without adding a wood trim at the top. Keep in mind that the edges of steel panels can often be slightly sharp. If you have young gardeners around, aka kids, I would highly suggest using a cover for the top.
There are all sorts of pre-fabricated raised garden beds out there if you’re willing to spend the loot of course. This is certainly one of them, but it doesn’t have to be if you’ve got a spare shipping container on hand. People all over the place are building homes out of shipping containers these days, and that means cutting out panels for windows and doors. Those scrap pieces can be used to build garden beds instead of going to the landfill.
If you’re all about the bling factor, you can opt for polished panels for that added sparkle. Softwood lumber works great for the trim, but if you have the money opt for pressure treated wood accents. The slight upgrade will ensure the base frame of your raised garden bed lasts for much longer.
Most hardware stores sell wide galvanized steel panels for an intended purpose of being used for roofing. For those building raised garden beds, you can get a metal shear and cut these panels often in half or thirds. In the design above, the height is just under two feet.
Who says galvanized steel raised garden beds have to be rectangular? Personally, I love the inviting look of this “C” shaped garden bed layout. The mulched interior walkway is a nice touch and overall, it feels quite cozy to garden in.
If you don’t like the silver look that comes with most galvanized garden beds you can always opt for a painted finish. Most ribbed roofing panels can be coated with a long-term paint that will withstand the elements. If you find the perfect style of panel and just can’t live without it, then you can always opt to get these panels powdercoated.