Have you ever wanted a thriving backyard garden, but you are cursed with bad soil? Believe it or not, there is a reliable and simple solution for this annoying problem. Raised garden beds allow anyone to have a plentiful, thriving backyard garden. In this guide, we are not only going to explore our favorite raised garden bed ideas but also give you some helpful tips to help achieve a fruitful raised garden bed. But, why should you choose a raised garden bed over something like containers or garden planters? Let's learn about some of the benefits of raised garden beds.
Benefits of Raised Garden Beds
Although raised garden beds may look similar to a garden planter or container setup, they actually do not have bottoms. The frame, filled with nutrient-rich soil, sits directly on top of the natural soil surface. The loose and accessible soil make it fairly easy to maintain optimal growing conditions.
Raised garden beds have the reputation of producing up to twice the yield of a ground soil garden setup. But why is this? Plants thrive in a loose soil environment where their roots are able to penetrate farther down in the soil with the least amount of resistance. Ground soil can be hard and compacted, which can produce less than desirable yields. The loose soil of raised garden beds gives plant roots the freedom to grow and also keeps the nutrients in the soil in place. This allows the nutrient amendments to concentrate on the plants that they are supposed to feed. This allows for dense planting, which means you can grow more plants in the same amount of space than a ground garden setup.
Longer Growing Season
Another benefit of raised garden beds is the extended time you can produce results. When the soil is above the ground, it tends to stay warmer and better drained than the soil on ground level.
Raised garden beds provide a natural barrier to keep pests, such as slugs and snails, away from your plants. Tall sides keep non-burrowing animals outside and barriers can be placed underneath to keep burrowing animals away from the roots of your plants.
Most raised beds are 3 to 4 feet wide making them great for the urban setting because their size makes them great for smaller spaces. The raised beds also allow you to reach the plants without stepping in and disturbing the soil. The whole space of a raised garden bed can be devoted to planting.
Gardening above ground level prevents bending down which can lead to back-aches. Raised garden beds can be designed to allow the gardener to sit on the walls of the bed while they tend to their plants.
Weeds have a hard time growing in an area where there is already a dense amount of plants. However, if a few weeds do manage to sneak under the raised bed, the loose soil allows for easy removal of them.
Besides being an effective space for growing plants, the geometrical properties of raised garden beds can be used to create boundaries, focal points, and symmetry to any yard.
Raised Garden Bed Tips
Now that we have learned about the benefits of a raised garden bed setup, it's important to know how to maximize the effectiveness of these benefits. The two main factors in achieving this are the correct size garden bed for its environment and the correct material used to construct it. It's crucial to gain as much knowledge as possible before putting your raised garden bed ideas into action. Here are some proven tips to ensure a quality raised garden bed.
Correct Length and Width
When you find some raised garden bed ideas that you like, it's important to first design your desired model with the correct amount of space in mind. Always make sure to leave enough space for pathways, so you can tend your garden properly. You must be able to reach either side of the bed without stepping into the bed itself. Stepping into the bed disturbs the soil, which can harm the plants. To achieve this, most experts recommend limiting the width of your raised garden bed ideas to 4 feet. If access is only available on one side of the bed, it is recommended to limit the width to 3 feet. When it comes to length, remember that length is only restricted by the size of your garden and the number of building materials available.
Most raised garden beds average from 6 to 12 inches in height. While this is sufficient space for plants to flourish, they will not be able to reach their full potential. To maximize the potential of your bed, however, it must be taller than average. Taller raised garden beds, some as high as 36 inches, provide several advantages over shorter ones. The taller the bed, the more space the roots have to grow. Deeper beds also hold more soil, which means more moisture. Soil that stays moisturized requires less watering. If the ground soil is poor, you will need more nutrient-rich soil to compensate for the poor quality. With a larger amount of soil, it's important to remember that more pressure will be placed on the sides of your raised bed. You may need to construct additional support on the sides of the bed to prevent the wood from bowing.
The Right Materials
Traditionally, most raised garden beds are constructed of rot-resistant cedar. It is possible, however, to construct your bed out of any material that will contain the soil, including rocks, and concrete that are in the bed. If your raised garden bed ideas include a vegetable or herb garden, it's important to remember to avoid constructing it out of pressure-treated lumber. Pressure-treated lumber can contaminate the soil by introducing it to dangerous, microscopic, heavy metal particles.
Other Tips for Potential Raised Garden Bed Ideas
- The best plants to grow in raised garden beds are ones with shallow roots. Some examples of these are herbs, vegetables, berry bushes, small shrubs, annuals, and perennial flowers.
- In order to properly calculate the amount of soil needed for your bed, follow this baseline. 10 inch, 3-by-6-foot beds require 15 cubic feet of soil.
- Soil gets depleted of its nutrients after only one or two seasons. Make sure to revitalize the soil with proper amounts of compost and amendments.
- Choose a site for your raised garden bed that will receive ample sunlight. Try to position the long end towards the south to ensure all plants get adequate sunlight.
- Consider laying down gravel or wood chips on the pathways to limit the amount of dirt tracked inside.
Our 5 Favorite Raised Garden Bed Ideas
Raised garden beds come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and themes. Here are our 5 favorite raised garden bed ideas.
Kitchen gardens need to be in the sunniest spot in the yard. A 4-by-8-foot raised garden bed is ample space to grow plentiful amounts of flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Gravel laid between the beds gives the garden a neat and tidy look.
A narrow design that is only 2 feet wide but yet 12 feet long is the perfect area for rows of sunflowers, culinary thyme, and German chamomile. The narrow width also provides easy access for cutting flowers and herbs.
Growing potatoes in towers instead of on the ground save space and produce more of a yield. Plant seed potatoes in a 16-inch diameter circle, 6 inches apart from each other. Curve galvanized metal mesh into a cylindrical shape that is 4 feet in height and has a diameter of 18 inches. Secure these cylinders with rebar and use bamboo screening to wrap around the outside of the towers. As the potatoes grow, over time, add compost and straw to cover all but the uppermost leaves. When the plants have reached the top of the tower, it's time to collect your potatoes.
Arranging your raised garden beds in neat squares surrounding a central fountain square gives your garden an aesthetically pleasing look. Growing herbs and vegetables in these square boxes make a great compliment to a kitchen garden.
Raised garden beds filled with fast-draining planting mix provide a quality environment to grow vegetables. Sonoma fieldstones make great stones to line the edge of your raised garden bed as they are light enough to be easily dismantled.
Final Thoughts on What We've Learned
Raised garden beds provide an easy and fun way to eat healthier. There is a certain satisfaction achieved when enjoying the fruits of your own labors. Raised garden bed ideas can be designed into any size to fit any size backyard. From the urban sprawl of a major city to the most desolated areas, they can be grown in any environment as long as these raised gardens are tended to properly. Using the knowledge contained in this guide will help you achieve maximum potential from raised garden bed ideas.