Raised bed gardening is a way of growing plants inside beds that are raised up above the normal level of the soil in the garden. They’re typically housed inside a wooden frame, generally rectangular. The soil may be mixed in with tilled soil underneath, or it can simply be new soil placed on top of untilled ground.
You can get soil from most greenhouses or gravel pits to use for your raised bed gardening. Always add in a good mix of mulch and fertilizer for a proper blend of gardening soil. If you are new to gardening check out our Beginner Gardening Tips for help.
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Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening
There are many great benefits to growing plants in raised beds. One of the biggest benefits is the ability to harvest more produce from the same space. Raised bed gardens can actually double or even triple the amount of produce harvested from the space! This is due to the fact that the square footage needed for pathways is reduced considerably, and more space can be devoted to the plants.
Another great benefit to growing in raised beds is the fact that you can improve your soil conditions more readily, and you can even grow plants in areas with extremely inhospitable soil. If your garden is typically very sandy or you have a lot of clay, it can be difficult to grow much in it. But if you create a raised bed, you can simply put your own purchased or created soil mix into the frame and grow your plants in that.
Weeds are also much less of a problem in the typical raised bed. Because the soil is confined, it’s much easier to spot any weeds that do pop up, and the weed seeds in the existing soil are buried under far too much soil to sprout in most cases.
If weeds tend to cause a problem there are many garden weed killers you can get that will help with that. Weeds can be a pain, but with raised bed gardening at least they are easier to get to.
Easier Access with Raised Bed Gardening
The frames can also be built with a bottom and placed on tables so handicapped and elderly people can reach their plants to care for them more easily. This is a major benefit for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to properly care for a garden.
The elderly or handicapped aren’t the only ones that can benefit from raised bed gardening. Many people have back issues and the bending over a garden is hard. Raised beds make gardening more appealing to many.
Square Foot Gardening
This type of gardening was made popular by Mel Bartholomew in his book and television series called Square Foot Gardening. He developed a system that requires about 80% less space than traditional types of gardening.
Instead of being just a standard raised bed, the bed is divided into sections that house plants of various sizes. It uses special soil mix that is free of weeds and is ideal for growing almost any kind of plants. It uses less water, is all organic, and uses far fewer seeds than traditional gardening. His system claims you can produce 5 times more in the same space of a traditional garden.
The system divides each square foot into a grid, based on what type of plants you wish to grow in that section. If you want to grow a large plant like broccoli or cabbage, it would take one entire square foot, so that section wouldn’t be divided at all. If you want to grow radishes, you might section that square foot into sixteen separate spaces, each one housing a single radish!
Cubed Foot Gardening
Other similar systems have been brought out. Cubed Foot Gardening is very similar to Square Foot Gardening. The creator of this particular system is Christopher O. Bird, and he credits Mel Bartholomew for creating the original system. Bartholomew even gave the system an endorsement!
You don’t have to use a grid system at all. You can use a raised bed to plant a wildflower garden or an herb garden with no definable organization. This works just fine. You don’t have to restrict yourself to a grid-based system if you don’t want to. Raised beds are very flexible! To make it even easier, buy a Tool-Free, Cypress Raised Garden Beds like the one pictured below. They are available in several sizes.
Why Raised Beds Make Gardening Easier
Raised beds make gardening easier in many ways. They help you solve difficult issues with your soil, they aid in controlling pests, they improve the amount of produce you can harvest in an area, they’re great at reducing weeds, and they help conserve water.
Any plants that love well-drained soil can benefit from being grown in raised beds. You don’t have to raise just vegetables. You can also easily grow herbs, fruits, and flowers in raised beds and make your job easier.
How Raised Bed Gardening Works
In raised bed gardening, the soil is usually put into frames that are about three or four feet wide and any length. The soil is generally enriched with compost, and is added to a frame made of wood or other material.
The plants in raised bed gardening are planted much closer together than the plants in a traditional garden. This allows the plants to conserve moisture and also help block the sun from allowing weeds to germinate and grow.
Raised beds can be used to extend the growing season, making it easier to start seeds outdoors earlier, and grow later in the season. This is a great way to get even more produce out of the area in a season.
Bypass Soil Issues
If you have soil problems in your garden, you can use raised beds and just bypass your own soil completely. If you start with completely fresh soil, it doesn’t matter what type of soil you had in your garden to begin with.
Many yards have dirt or soil that is not garden ready. Instead of spending the time and money to make a section of your yard garden ready, just use raised bed gardens.
No Trampling the Garden
Another great benefit of raised bed gardening is the fact that the gardener doesn’t walk on the soil in which the plants are growing. This helps prevent the soil from being packed down, so the roots can grow through the soil more readily.
Having a garden in the ground can be tricky when it comes time to weed it. Trying to be very careful where you step or stand so you don’t injure plants is hard. If space is limited for walking you can ruin your plants.
Easier to Set Up
You don’t need to till the soil under a raised bed if you don’t want to. This is very beneficial for people who can’t afford a tiller, or who aren’t physically capable of handling a piece of machinery like this. For this reason raised bed gardening is much easier to set up.
You won’t have to water raised beds as often as you would a traditional garden. The soil in raised beds is designed specifically to hold on to water, so you can water less often and in smaller quantities. A Square Foot Gardening Style Watering System great for conserving water and saving money. Use code easygardening for $5 off orders of +$75!
Not being tied to your gardens due to them needing water is great too. Nor do you need to rely on neighbors or friends to come water your gardens if you are gone a day or two.
Built to Your Specifications
Raised bed garden frames can be built on top of plywood bases, and then raised to any height. This allows handicapped and elderly people to easily reach their plants to tend to them. For people in wheelchairs, this could be one of the only ways they can garden well. Gardens can be built to your specifications. Want them taller or shorter, no problem. Doing a few in different heights is fun as well.
Tight on space? Even if you live in an apartment or only have a small patio you can grow a garden. Visit Garden Tower Project to learn more about tower gardens. Similar to a raised bed these allow you to grow multiple plants in a small space.
Free of Diseases and Pests
Diseases and pests are easier to control in raised beds. Since you’re starting with fresh soil, it’s less likely to be contaminated with diseases that could infect your plants. If your plants do become infected, you can simple dispose of the soil in that bed and start again from scratch.
And pests are easier to control, because plants are in a more confined area. This makes it much easier to spot potential problems, and it also makes it easier to get rid of potential problems before they take over your entire garden.
Final Thoughts on Raised Bed Gardening
While gardening isn’t easy, using raised beds can make it a little less challenging. Using a height that works for you, and a size you need. The look of a raised bed garden is very attractive as well. Allows a great way to landscape a yard or patio. Just take a look at all the options there are for raised bed gardening.