A raised garden bed is a standing structure that you can assemble above natural gardening areas. They’re a fantastic option for elder gardeners, those living in small spaces, and those with temporary or permanent mobility issues. A raised garden bed can also be wheelchair-accessible, making gardening a wonderful experience.
Apart from providing a less laborious gardening experience, raised garden beds help you utilize your available space, improve drainage, and give you complete control over your plant’s growing environment. In short, raised garden beds are worth the hype because they come with many other benefits for experienced and amateur gardeners. Here’s why you should use raised garden beds in your garden.
Understanding the Types of Raised Garden Beds
There are four types of raised garden beds that you can use to grow your plants.
1. In-Ground Garden Beds
This is the most elementary form of a raised garden bed that requires little construction. You can make in-ground beds by pilling on tilled soil on top of your gardening area and then leveling out the mound to have a flat top.
Since there are no defined boundaries, this type of raised bed is susceptible to compacted soil and erosion. To combat this, you would have to reshape the mound constantly, which could disturb your plants.
2. Supported Raised Ground Beds
This is similar to the in-ground garden bed, but the only difference is defined boundary lines in the form of sturdy frames. Much like in-ground garden beds, this raised bed doesn’t have a solid bottom, but it has a solid frame made from wood, bricks, or galvanized steel. The frames can help prevent soil erosion and compaction, but the edges could make digging and planting difficult.
3. Container Raised Garden Bed
A container bed has walls or frames that are 10 to 12 inches high. Container garden beds are portable, but you can move them around only if they’re not too heavy. This is a fantastic option for older gardeners, those living in concrete jungles, and those with mobility issues.
Container beds come in many shapes, sizes, heights, and materials, making it easy to pick the right one for your gardening requirement. That said, depending on the material, container beds can be pricey and heavy, so moving them around can be laborious unless they come with wheels.
That said, moving them too often can break them. Container garden beds have a solid bottom, so you’ll need to drill drainage holes to prevent water from pooling at the bottom and damaging crops.
4. Elevated Raised Garden Bed
Elevated raised garden beds are container beds with a solid bottom placed on higher support legs to elevate them more. You can adjust the height based on how high or low you want your garden bed to be for a stress-free gardening experience.
Since these beds sit higher than a traditional container garden bed, they’re perfect for people with severe mobility issues and new mommies. Depending on the material, you’d need to keep a close eye on the legs to prevent the container from falling.
4 Reasons Why You Should Use a Raised Garden Bed
If you’re confused about whether a raised garden bed is right for you, here are some reasons to help you decide.
1. More Control Over Soil Conditions
Not all gardens have perfect soils, and often they need structural or nutritional replenishment. Therefore, you must test your garden soil and amend it with nutrients before using it to grow your crops.
With a raised garden bed, you’ll have complete control over your plant’s growing environment because you’ll either be amending the garden soil to suit the plants you’re growing or making your own organic potting soil for your plants. Amending a raised bed’s soil takes less time than fixing a large in-ground plot, which is at the mercy of the local climate!
2. Less Soil Compaction
Compacted soils can cause many problems for your plants and is a gardener’s worst nightmare. Apart from poor drainage and aeration, compacted soil prevents nutrients from reaching the plant’s roots, causing stunted growth and premature plant death.
With raised garden beds, you have complete control over your soil’s structure, health, and fertility. It’s easier to fix compacted soil in a container garden bed than in an entire plot. You can improve your soil’s structure by adding amendments like perlite and vermiculite to help with water drainage and retention.
3. Container Beds Are Easy to Customize
You can customize your raised garden bed in multiple ways. From cold frames to hoop houses, you can even convert your raised bed into a greenhouse or build season extenders to start growing earlier in the season and keep your plants safe in the winter.
You can use the hoops to lay over nets to protect your crops from small mammals and birds. You can customize height, shape, color, and material to match your overall garden theme.
4. They Provide Visual Appeal
Raised garden beds can create a terracing effect that can add to your garden’s visual appeal. Additionally, the container or edging material you use can complement the feel or textures in your garden.
Potential Challenges of a Raised Garden
While raised beds are fantastic for all gardeners, remember that not all plants grow well in raised beds, especially ones with solid bottoms. For example, sweet corn requires more space, whereas watermelons would likely take over a small raised bed unless you train it to grow on trellises.
Don’t forget to account for structural weaknesses. The materials you use to frame or support your raised garden bed are more susceptible to wear and tear, especially if they’re constantly exposed to different elements.
For example, if your raised bed’s frame is made from wood, it can rot, attract pests, warp, or split from constant exposure to water and direct sunlight. Likewise, galvanized steel can rust from continuous exposure to air and water, and plastic can break or, worse, start leaching toxins into the soil from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
Don’t use railroad ties, cinderblocks, or pressure-treated wood, when making your own raised garden beds, as they leach dangerous chemicals into the soil that could end up on your plate if you’re growing edible crops.
Tips for Constructing Your Raised Garden Bed
Here are some things you should consider when constructing your raised garden bed:
1. Choose Your Planting Spot Wisely
Since raised garden beds are primarily large structures that you may or may not be able to move, position them accordingly. You want to select an area based on how much sunlight and water your plants need. Be mindful of other elements in your location, such as tall trees that can cast large shadows and could act as a bridge for rodents to get to your raised beds.
2. Consider Vertical Garden Techniques
Combine different gardening techniques by starting a vertical garden on your raised bed. Stick a trellis or metal arches for vines to climb or prop up intricate obelisks for plants to flower on. This will help you save space, increase your garden’s visual appeal and allow for more complementary gardening.
3. Label Your Plants
Raised beds allow for dense planting, so you can grow various plants in a confined space. Since all seedlings mostly look alike, you must label them so you can monitor their progress.
Raised garden beds are problem solvers across the board. They’re great for older gardeners, those with mobility issues, and for concrete jungle dwellers with a curious green thumb!
As long as you use safe materials to build your raised garden bed and keep an eye on wear and tear, raised garden beds are worth the hype and can level up your gardening game.
As always, leave your experiences, thoughts, and questions in the comment section! And share with friends and family who might find this helpful.