Gardening is my escape and my passion. Learn how to grow some vegetables right in your own backyard.
Gardening in a Raised Bed
Gardening has become a popular activity during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people have been successful with a raised bed garden and you can be too. It is an excellent introduction to the gardening hobby at low cost, allowing you to grow with other raised beds or move to in-ground gardening. Whether growing vegetables or flowers, this method is popular for first-time or established gardeners.
Soil Control Advantages
When you initiate a raised bed garden, you have total control over the soil that you place in the raised garden bed. You can use a potting soil mix or even a soilless mix if you want, reducing the presence of many soil-borne diseases and pests. You can also easily manage drainage and watering. Since you don't typically walk on a raised garden bed, the soil structure is lighter and with improved aeration and water retention. You can use intensive gardening techniques like square foot gardening or go with traditional spacing. However, planting in close spacing produces more crops per square foot, and reduces weeds.
Raised Bed Advantages
- Weed Control: you have created a border so the weeds have to work harder to reach your soil.
- Accessibility: Since the bed is higher than ground level, it is slightly easier to reach. Some are built at waist level to allow elderly gardeners access or people with back problems to have easier access to the bed.
- Location: you can start a raised bed in places where a typical garden may not work, such as a school yard, flower bed, or restricted area from pets. One brand allows reshaping that is easy for relocation.
Build It Yourself
The easiest way to get a raised bed is to buy a raised bed kit. For the do-it-yourself gardener, you may choose to build from raw lumber. It is important to get the corners square by using corner brackets. Make sure you choose brackets that are the right height for your lumber, and note that there are even corners available that let you create shapes other than simple rectangles with angles other than ninety degrees.
It is also important to use lumber that is not treated with chemicals. Cedar is the best and has a nice, knotty appearance.
Using cardboard on top of your planting spot will help control weeds and like any compostable material, will eventually decompose and become one with the bottom layer of your garden bed as shown in the photo below. You can also extend the cardboard past the walls of the bed and have a little walk way. They will eventually decompose naturally and if you chose, you can get trim them even with the bed.
For the Handicapped or Elderly
If you are unable to bend over to garden, an elevated raised bed is the answer to your desire to continue gardening. You can have one or several in a row. If you have a handyman in your family, you may choose to make several of these lined up in a row just as you would rows in your in-ground garden. Our local community garden recently received a grant to elevate eight of their 48 garden beds for use by Veterans - a wonderful way for the community to give back to those who served our country!
At the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois, there is an "enabling garden" where veterans, mental health patients and nursing home residents, among others, come to reduce the tension in their lives (and bodies) by spending a little time with nature at a place that is featured just for them. Part of the reason the Botanic Garden hosts this area is because gardening has been proven to be a therapy for social, physical, and psychological benefits. Kudos to the CBS!
Elevated Raised Bed Garden
Apply the Square Foot Gardening Method
Inch By Inch, Row by Row
One popular type of raised bed gardening is square foot gardening. This is a very structured approach to creating a raised bed, created by Mel Bartholomew, an engineer-turned-gardener. The garden is laid out in squares, approximately one square foot in length, with no limit to the size. The idea is that so many of a given type of plant will do well when intensively gardened, therefore you plant a given number in each square. It is growing in popularity, especially in the revived city space gardens, but also for backyard gardeners who have limited space or just want to plant a select number of vegetables.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2009 Joanie Ruppel
Have You Tried Raised Bed Gardening?
Joanie Ruppel (author) from Keller, Texas on May 06, 2014:
@CampingmanNW: Thank you!
CampingmanNW on May 05, 2014:
Nice job on the raised bed gardens here. A perfect solution for folks with poor soil or lousy drainage. Cheers
MariaMontgomery from Coastal Alabama, USA on August 30, 2013:
I really enjoy using raised beds. Plants seem to be healthier, there are certainly a lot fewer weeds, and I don't have to bend over so far. What could be better? Nice lens. Well done. I also like you one about composting, but I have already "liked" it.
GardenIdeasHub LM on November 20, 2012:
When you were talking about....the advantages of raised bed gardening that really makes sense to me.
KyraB on September 30, 2012:
Yes, and it helps keep the garden so much cleaner.
Jessica Barst from Dallas, TX on August 14, 2012:
I haven't tried them yet but am in the process of planning my garden and decided they will be beneficial for many reasons; especially since I can place them where they make the most sense for sunlight and for ease of watering. Great info!
Sheilamarie from British Columbia on March 17, 2012:
This is my year for trying raised beds. I have sort of done them before but this year I'll do it right.
Joanie Ruppel (author) from Keller, Texas on July 17, 2011:
@serenity4me lm: Thanks and happy gardening in whatever setting you have!
serenity4me lm on July 08, 2011:
I have tried it and I loved it. I don't have them anymore due to a redesign of the lawn and gardens, but I really did enjoy it. At one time I had 4 large raised beds with a cross walk between the 4 beds. Talk about making your plants and weeding more accessible, it was great. I enjoyed your lens, and yes, there is some definite advantages to using raised beds. Happy Gardening!