Raised Bed Gardens

Raised garden beds are great for growing small plots of flowers and vegetables. They help keep weeds from your garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails. The sides of the beds keep your valuable garden soil from being eroded or washed away during heavy rains. In many regions, gardeners are able to plant earlier in the season because the soil is warmer and better drained when it is above ground level.

Raised beds are not the same as garden planters. Planters are elevated containers which have bottoms to prevent the soil from falling out. Planter bottoms usually are slatted, with some type of semi-permeable cloth barrier which permits drainage. Raised beds, however, do not have bottoms; they are open to the ground, which offers the benefit of permitting plant roots to go further into the ground for available nutrients.

1. Weed Control
Because a raised garden bed is planted above existing soil, you can put down weed barriers between the ground and the soil you put in your garden box. If you’re diligent to use weed-free soil in your box, any weeds in your garden should be few and far between. By raising the soil level, raised garden beds also reduce back strain when bending over to tend the bed. If the beds are built well, the gardener can sit on the edge of the bed while weeding.

2. Pest Control
With a raised bed, you can put chicken wire down beneath the garden, keeping underground critters out. You can also make a chicken wire cage to place above your garden box, keeping out other animals.

3. Better Soil
When you plant a garden directly in the ground, you need to start with the soil that’s already there, and that soil might not be ideal for gardening. You can add things to it to make it better, but it may never be ideal. However, when working with a raised garden bed, you can use whatever soil will work best for your garden, right from the get-go.

4. Portability
With an in-ground garden, you leave it behind, and start all over at your new place. But if you use a raised garden bed, particularly a small one like a square foot garden, you can bag up your soil and take your garden box with you.

5. Higher Yields
Because of the better soil used in raised bed gardens, they tend to have higher fruit and vegetable yields than traditional row gardens.

6. Frugality
In a traditional row garden, you scatter the seeds, then thin the plants as they grow, wasting seeds. In a raised bed garden, you plant only the amount of seeds you need. Properly stored, the additional seeds will be good for another year or two, saving you money on next year’s garden.

7. Longer Growing Season
Gardening seasons depend on the temperature of the soil. The ground in a 4′ x 4′ box will warm up more quickly than the ground under the lawn. In addition, it’s relatively simple to make a cold frame for a raised garden bed to extend the gardening season further.

8. Aesthetically Pleasing
Raised garden beds look neat and tidy. In addition, if you’re a creative person, you can make some pretty cool looking gardens. Your garden could easily become the focal point of your yard.