Peg Aloi is a professional gardener covering plants in various contexts, from recipes to heirloom orchard fruits. Her area of interest is the folklore of plants and herbs. She's worked as a garden designer for public housing, individual homes, and businesses, and gives workshops on various gardening topics.
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Updated on 06/08/22
Reviewed byKathleen Miller
Kathleen Miller is a highly-regarded Master Gardener and Horticulturist who shares her knowledge of sustainable living, organic gardening, farming, and landscape design. She founded Gaia's Farm and Gardens,aworking sustainable permaculture farm, and writes for Gaia Grows, a local newspaper column.She has over 30 years of experience in gardening and sustainable farming.
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Raised beds can be as humble or creative as you like. A raised bed planter can be a permanent fixture for perennial plants to settle in and mature. The initial cost of getting your raised bed set up will depend on how elaborate you make it, but once in place, raised beds are no more expensive to maintain than traditional gardens. They offer a lot of benefits.
What Is a Raised Garden Bed?
Raised bed gardening involves growing plants in soil that is higher than the ground. Most commonly, you can do this with some type of enclosure or frame made of wood, stone, bales of hay, or even repurposed material like old dressers.
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Custom-Designed Raised Beds
Raised bed gardens can be fit just about any space. With a little creativity, you can create an entire garden sitting area. This multi-level raised bedincorporated simple straight lines byPeter Donegan Landscaping. Itcomes complete with a potting shed and lamppost. Add a bench section, like the one at the end of the front bed, and you have seating for the outdoor dining area. As the plants fill in and the wood weathers, this garden will take on a natural, rustic appearance.
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Built-In Raised Beds
Whenmaking a raised bed, instead of going in-ground, you can place it where the sun or shade is the best for the plants you want to cultivate. You can also prevent tunneling pests from decimating your plants. Plants can be healthier and more productive in a raised bed because you can control the quality of the soil and water drainage. If you build the sides wide enough to make a bench, you can even sit and garden. For those with back problems, the positioning can make iteasier to tend the plants.Raised beds of brick or wood, as pictured, can also enhance the design of your homestead or backyard.
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Grow Bag Raised Beds
Another great advantage of raised bed gardens is that they sit well above theunderground frost line, so the soil warms up faster in the spring, and you can start planting sooner. The material used for your beds makes a difference here: metal holds more heat from the sun. But grow bags are a good option as they don't freeze solid and soil in them defrosts rather quickly. Also, it is a great way to provide the heat needed to grow Mediterranean plants likesageand lavender. Grow bags may seem too easy; but within minutes you could have a great raised bed garden!
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Herb Spiral Garden
Spiral gardens are a popular permaculture technique. They increase the amount of usable planting area without taking up more ground space in your garden. You can easily build them out of stone, brick, wood, or simply pileup the soil. The unusual shape and swirl of plants make for an eye-catching focal point in your garden. Herbs are the plants of choice in this photo, but you can grow anything using the spiral design.
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One of the easiest ways to create raised bed gardens is by usinganimal feeding troughs. There is no assembly required, but be sure to drill some drainage holes in the bottom before you add the soil. The metal gives the garden an industrial look and conducts heat, warming the soil in the spring. You can use new or used troughs, depending on availability and your desired look. Depending on what you chose to grow, the plants may need a bit of extra water during the hottest part of summer.
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Square Foot Raised Beds
Square foot gardening involves dividing the growing area into small square sections, typically 1 foot per square. The aim is to produce anintensively planted vegetable garden or a highly productive kitchen garden. This can be measures and divided with various materials, including netting.
Using a raised bed for growing vegetables allows you to control the soil quality and prevent it from becoming compacted. Vegetable roots can grow unimpeded. The beds do not have to be very high off the ground to get the benefits from being in a raised bed. Even 6 to 8 inches can be enough.
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Flower Boxes as Raised Beds
Raised beds have very few limits. If you have a sturdy fence you can attach wooden boxes as small raised beds; like window boxes, but on your fence. These can look good all year long, with annuals filling in as perennials stop blooming. During the winter holidays, you can also decorate these areas with seasonal greens and decorationsas a unique decor idea.
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Cinderblock Raised Beds
There are many ways to build raised beds out of recycled materials.Concrete blocks or cinderblocks are one of the most popular. Note that some older cinder blocks may contain fly ash, which is the "cinders" that remain from burning coal. It is still being debated whether this is safe to use around edible plants. If you get new blocks that are made out of concrete, you can avoid the ash issue. The new blocks are substantially heavier than older cinder blocks but are OK to use for a vegetable garden. Be careful though—concrete blocks leech lime. Lime can raise the soil's pH. To be on the safe side, use plants that thrive in alkaline soil. These sturdy succulents and sedums are hardy and not too fussy about soil so they're a good choice for these planters.
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Hoop House Raised Bed
With a little pre-planning, you can create a multi-season vegetable garden. Raised beds give you more flexibilityto control the growing conditions in your garden and make it harder for animals to get at yourvegetables. If you build a hoop house on top of a raised bed, you can be prepared for any weather, handle frost, and give yourself a headstart in the spring. This lightweight netting is sturdy enough to hold a cloth covering in case of frost.
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Raised Bed Border
Raised beds are a terrific option for yards with steep slopes. By building up the beds at their lowest sections you can create the illusion of a level garden. Make your beds wide enough so that you can still have a layered flower garden with a border of shrubs framing the back of the garden and plenty of room for perennials that will provide colors, textures, and edge-softening drapes. This garden in Italy features a succession of raised beds edged with rocks to make the most of a steep slope location.
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Space Saving Design ideas
Gardeners with limited space can often use raised beds designs in a creative way to make the most of what they have. This clever design puts a wooden raised bed flower box (made of reclaimed materials) on top of the trash bin storage area: sprucing up what's normally a drab spot and bringing beauty to a utilitarian functional area. The string lights and decorations add a personal touch.
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Raised Bed Arbor
Using a trellis or arbor with a raised bed makes it even easier to harvest vegetables and keeps them neater than if they were sprawling on the ground. Vertical gardening allows you to grow more plants without taking up more space. This raised bed with zucchini plants shows that your design can be as simple as creating a basic frame by tying two dowels (or bamboo poles) together and tethering them. Other crops may benefit from stretching garden netting across the trellis structure.
Continue to 13 of 15 below.(Video) Inspiring Raised Bed Ideas Pt 2! 🌿🌼 // Garden Answer
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Lasagna Garden Raised Beds
Lasagna gardens are essentially layered gardens that don't require digging, but the term has come to mean using materials other than soil beneath the topsoil layer. In this case wooden raised beds are constructed, filled with cut wood and grass clippings, then have a layer of top soil added. This cuts down on the heavy weight and expense of using soil all the way down, if your plantings don't produce a deep root system.
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Milk Crate Garden
Repurpose milk crates and make your raised bed portable. This milk crateraised bedis easy toset up, and you can configure into any shape you like. If you need your plants closer to your kitchen, or you want to place it in a shadier spot, just pick up the crate and go. These containers already come with drainage holes. And, when you need to change the soil, you can just lift the crate and dump the contents in the compost pile and start again.
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Raised Bed and Container Design
Maybe you have brick raised beds and want to make them feel fuller and more decorative. Placing containers below the level of the brick wall allows you to play with different levels that draw the eyes up and down, and allow for an almost unlimited variety of sizes and shapes. You can even plan out your planting so that you provide four seasons of visual interest. Containers can also be moved to change up the design any time you want.
This is just a handful of ideas for creative ways of making raised beds in your garden. Repurposing materials into something useful is a great feeling, and gardeners are nothing if not resourceful. Raised beds can help you make better use of your space and find new and often eye-catching ways of growing food and flowers.
Venelin Dimitrov, senior product manager for gardening company Burpee, said there are three types of raised garden beds: raised ground beds, supported raised beds and containerized raised beds. All three work to lift plants and their root systems above ground.What is the best size for a raised garden bed? ›
This means gardeners should be able to easily access the bed from all sides. Plan raised beds that are 3 feet wide for children and 4 feet wide for adults. If providing wheelchair access, plan raised beds that are 2 feet wide for children and 3 feet wide for adults.What are three mistakes to avoid when gardening with raised beds? ›
- Picking the Wrong Spot. ...
- Forgetting About a Water Source. ...
- Making the Beds Too Big. ...
- Building with the Wrong Materials. ...
- Not Using the Best Soil. ...
- Selecting Oversize Plants. ...
- Skipping Mulch. ...
- Not Protecting Your Plants.
In general, the more soil depth that's available to your plants, the more freely their roots will grow. More soil also holds more moisture, so a deeper raised bed will require less frequent watering. It is possible to install a raised bed on poor or compacted soil, or even on concrete.What is the best way to build a raised garden bed? ›
How to Build a Raised Bed CHEAP and EASY, Backyard GardeningWhich wood is best for raised beds? ›
What Kind of Wood to Use? In most cases, cedar is the best wood to use for garden beds because cedar is naturally rot resistant. Western red cedar is commonly used, but white cedar, yellow cedar and juniper are also high-quality choices for outdoor construction projects.How deep should a raised bed garden be? ›
A raised bed does not always require a significant depth for it to be effective. They should have at least 8 inches of soil depth to accommodate the root systems of plants, because the majority of plant roots require 6 – 8 inches of soil for healthy root growth.What should you not put in a raised bed? ›
Final Tips. Avoid lining your garden beds with plastic, as this prevents drainage and could drown your plants' roots. If you have a weed and pest problem, consider installing a combination of metal mesh and fabric or hardware cloth and cardboard to get both benefits at once.What should you not put in raised beds? ›
A list of plants not to grow in your raised beds:
- Winter Squash.
Raised bed vegetable gardening takes very little space and allows vegetables to be grown closer together. It's also a great solution for areas with poor native soil. Discover how to make the best use of your raised beds.
A raised bed is going to require more frequent and more inches of water, most likely."What are the advantages and disadvantages of a raised garden bed? ›
They warm up quicker in spring, allowing earlier planting. They can be great for people with a disability. Different beds can hold different types of soil allowing you to match soil to crops. Drainage can be better in areas with very poor drainage, but raised beds can also cause drainage problems.What soil is best for a garden? ›
Loam is the ideal soil for most plants; it contains a balance of all three mineral particles and is rich in humus (what's left after organic matter decomposes).Should I line my raised garden bed with plastic? ›
Avoid lining your garden beds with plastic, as this prevents drainage and could drown your plants' roots. If you have a weed and pest problem, consider installing a combination of metal mesh and fabric or hardware cloth and cardboard to get both benefits at once.What soil is best for vegetable garden? ›
The best soil suitable for vegetables includes lots of compost and organic matter such as composted leaves and ground or shredded, aged bark. Whatever you're starting with, incorporate enough organic material so that the amended soil is neither sandy nor compacted.What is the best material to put around raised garden beds? ›
Cedar and redwood are the two best choices of wood to build raised garden beds with. They're both very durable, beautiful, and naturally resistant to moisture, rot, and even termites.What is the safest material for raised garden beds? ›
of Environmental Protection) Build your raised bed with a decay-resistant type of wood, such as cedar, black cherry, oak (bur, chestnut, post, white), black locust, Osage orange, or redwood. (Source: USDA Forest Products Lab) Use a non-wood material such as stones, concrete blocks, bricks, or synthetic lumber.How long do wooden raised beds last? ›
It really depends on the material of the raised bed; most gardeners choose cedar or redwood because of their natural resistance to rotting and infestations. In optimal conditions, they'll last up to 10 to 20 years. However, longer-lasting materials are available as well.What is the cheapest way to make raised beds? ›
Used bricks and breeze blocks are cheap or even free. Breeze blocks laid on their side can make a good cheap and safe raised bed and form a seat to sit and garden from. Old planks nailed or screwed around a simple frame of corner stakes that have been well hammered in is cheap and very simple to make.How do you fill a raised garden bed for cheap? ›
Create dig in your garden bed that is ten inches deep and in the center of your raised bed. Layer down a few layers of cardboard, and fill the core with straw bales, leaves, grass clippings, or old twigs. You can use one of these materials or mix them.
Arrange plants by height.
So design the layout of plants with the tallest ones, such as corn or okra, to grow along the center line of the raised bed. Plant medium-height plants, such as peppers, on either side. Finally, locate the shortest plants, such as radishes and carrots along the edges of the bed.
- Mint and onions where asparagus is growing.
- Pole beans and mustard near beets.
- Anise and dill neighboring carrots.
- Cucumber, pumpkin, radish, sunflower, squash, or tomatoes close to potato hills.
You should line a raised garden bed, since the pros outweigh the cons. A liner for your raised garden bed insulates the soil against extreme temperatures, keeps moles & gophers out, and prevents weeds from growing. A raised bed liner also allows water to drain away without taking soil with it.Should I put landscape fabric under raised bed? ›
Do's for Your Raised Garden Bed
Of course, you don't have to excavate if you don't want to. You can simply remove any grass or weeds from the spot where the bed will sit, and then add layers of newspaper, cardboard or landscape fabric to smother anything that might grow back.
The distance between raised beds should be at least 3 feet wide (4 feet is even better). Allowing as much room as possible gives plants room to grow, and also gives you room to get by. Think about if you will need access for a wheelbarrow and plan accordingly.How deep should raised beds be for tomatoes? ›
Plant tomatoes deep as they form additional roots along the stem. Your raised bed should be at least 12” deep. The more roots form along the stem, the easier it will be for the tomato plants to absorb moisture from the soil in your raised bed.Should you put rocks in bottom of raised garden bed? ›
Avoid using materials like rocks on the bottom of your raised bed, as this can create an artificial water table that will prevent good drainage. With raised garden beds, drainage is essential.What is the best liner for raised beds? ›
We'd thoroughly recommend you use one of our thick, one piece, polypropylene fabric raised bed liners when growing in raised beds on the patio; the porous material of the liner will help water retention, prevent the compost and soil from running out onto the hard surface - possibly causing staining - and will also help ...Can tomatoes go in a raised bed? ›
Benefits of Growing Tomatoes in Raised Beds
Tomatoes love heat. Seedlings and young plants especially love warm soil temperatures. This is where growing tomatoes in raised beds is particularly useful. The soil in raised beds warms up faster, giving tomatoes a welcome head start.
Can You Fill A Raised Bed With Just Compost? Using compost alone in your raised beds can work for certain plants if the compost is well matured, but it may also be detrimental to other plants. Using topsoil alone in your raised beds is not a good choice. Likewise, using compost alone is also not the best option.
Many gardeners build raised beds right on their lawns, and line the bottoms with cardboard to smother the grass – a technique that makes it possible to fill the beds and start gardening right away. Even the gardener's helper enjoys a cardboard box!What do you line a wooden raised bed with? ›
If in doubt, line the inside of the bed with polythene. New railway sleepers may contain creosote that should not be used where skin contact is a possibility. Creosote is thought to have dissipated from older sleepers, and these may be used without concern about skin contact.Should you treat raised bed wood? ›
If you want to protect your wooden raised beds from the weather, there are some simple and effective steps you can take. Once constructed, the best solution is to treat them with the right paint or oil finish. It will make sure your beds remain in tip top condition over time and don't warp or crack.Should you paint a raised garden bed? ›
So, can you paint a raised garden bed? – Yes, you absolutely can! Raised garden beds can instantly make a garden look more attractive if it's draped correctly, especially if there are many in your garden.How often should you water raised beds? ›
Plants do best when watered about three times a week, factoring in the rain. If the plants are seedlings, water twice a day until established.Can you grow flowers in a raised bed? ›
They're a great way to add color, dimension, and beauty to your yard, especially if you're new to gardening. Cut flowers can be grown in raised beds just as they are grown in regular gardens. Raised beds provide extra benefits such as improved drainage, an organized space, easy maintenance, and accessibility.What vegetables can you plant together? ›
|Vegetable||Companion Plant||Don't Plant Together|
|Peas||Beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, radish, turnip||Garlic, onions|
|Potatoes||Beans, corn, peas||Tomatoes|
|Squash||Corn, melons, pumpkins||None|
|Tomatoes||Carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, peppers||Corn, potatoes, kohlrabi|
During hot summer months you may need to water once or twice daily. Early mornings and evenings are best. During the cooler seasons of fall and early spring, you may only need to water every few days, and go weeks without watering during the rainy season. Raised beds in particular may need more watering in dry weather.How do I keep my raised garden moist? ›
- Mulch, mulch, and mulch some more! ...
- Water deeply. ...
- Use drip irrigation and an automatic timer. ...
- Mix water-absorbing materials into your soil. ...
- Check your weekly watering number!
Raised bed watering: how often should I water raised bed tomatoes? Water new plants daily for a week to 10 days to get them established. After that, tomato plants need 1-2 inches of water a week – more when temperatures are hot.
So, why are raised garden beds so expensive? Raised garden beds are expensive if you buy costly wood to build them and bagged soil to fill them. Raised beds have exploded in popularity in recent years, so demand for raised garden bed kits is huge.How deep should a garden bed be for vegetables? ›
Soil Depth Requirements for Popular Vegetables
In most gardens, the top 6″ of soil contains the most nutrients needed for plant growth. This is because most root growth in vegetable gardens occurs in this relatively shallow depth.
Raised bed soil is nutrient rich and contains a higher percentage of organic material than garden soil. However, you should also add additional organic fertilizer throughout the growing season to ensure a productive harvest. Organic and natural fertilizers include compost, algae and worms.What is the best material to use for raised garden beds? ›
Build your raised bed with a decay-resistant type of wood, such as cedar, black cherry, oak (bur, chestnut, post, white), black locust, Osage orange, or redwood. (Source: USDA Forest Products Lab) Use a non-wood material such as stones, concrete blocks, bricks, or synthetic lumber.What is the cheapest way to make raised beds? ›
Used bricks and breeze blocks are cheap or even free. Breeze blocks laid on their side can make a good cheap and safe raised bed and form a seat to sit and garden from. Old planks nailed or screwed around a simple frame of corner stakes that have been well hammered in is cheap and very simple to make.What wood is best for raised garden beds? ›
In most cases, cedar is the best wood to use for garden beds because cedar is naturally rot resistant. Western red cedar is commonly used, but white cedar, yellow cedar and juniper are also high-quality choices for outdoor construction projects.What is the best soil mixture for raised beds? ›
Some gardeners prefer to fill raised garden beds with a topsoil-free mix, using equal parts compost, perlite, and coco coir. It makes for a fluffy, moisture-retaining growing medium. Compost from multiple sources is best because it provides a wide variety of nutrients.How deep should a raised bed garden be? ›
A raised bed does not always require a significant depth for it to be effective. They should have at least 8 inches of soil depth to accommodate the root systems of plants, because the majority of plant roots require 6 – 8 inches of soil for healthy root growth.What is the cheapest material to use for raised garden beds? ›
Cinder blocks and concrete blocks are very inexpensive (typically $2 to $3 a piece at home improvement centers), and they make it really easy to build the outline of a raised garden bed.What do you fill a raised garden bed with? ›
Fill your bed with a nutrient-rich compost mix (homemade or commercially-produced). Then, top the compost with enriched top soil especially formulated for vegetable gardening. It has a fine texture to allow for immediate sowing and planting. Fill your beds all the way up!
Loam is the ideal soil for most plants; it contains a balance of all three mineral particles and is rich in humus (what's left after organic matter decomposes).What plants do not grow well in raised beds? ›
Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Romanesco Grow Too Large for Raised Beds. These plants would take over each and every inch of your container or raised bed and then still want more. They do better when they're planted in rows or mounds to give them plenty of space and sunlight.Are raised beds a good idea? ›
Raised beds are a great way of growing a wide range of plants, and are particularly popular for growing fruit and vegetables. They are a good way of boosting drainage and can be used to introduce a different soil type to your garden.Why are raised beds so expensive? ›
So, why are raised garden beds so expensive? Raised garden beds are expensive if you buy costly wood to build them and bagged soil to fill them. Raised beds have exploded in popularity in recent years, so demand for raised garden bed kits is huge.Do raised beds need drainage? ›
Drainage is an important process when you are growing plants in a container, as poor drainage can cause the soil to become oversaturated or waterlogged, stunting plant growth. Good drainage is necessary when you are using raised garden beds.What is the cheapest wood for raised garden beds? ›
Cedar is the most affordable, and is naturally rot-resistant due to natural oils in the wood. Redwood is very expensive, but is rot-resistant and has a long longevity. Douglas Fir is a very affordable option, but won't last as long as redwood or cedar in terms of longevity.Is concrete safe for raised beds? ›
The cinder blocks that you buy in the store today are actually concrete blocks and totally safe. Unless you're using antique cinder blocks, there should be no reason to worry, especially when cinder block gardening for vegetables.