This post was most recently updated on May 11th, 2020
Raised garden beds are not a new concept. Raised beds have been successfully used in areas that receive plenty of rain for thousands of years.
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A raised garden bed provides extra space for growing vegetables and ensures good drainage as well as allowing you to add plenty of good soil if your native soil is lacking awesomeness.
Types of raised garden beds
There are many ways to form a raised garden bed. The most simple is to just mound up the soil. This creates angled, sloping dirt edges, with a flat raised area in the middle. Using this dirt only option is great because:
- It is free
- You can change it whenever you like
- You can plant on the sloping sides as well as in the top
The other option is to add sides of some sort to your raised beds. These can be anything from a few logs, to retaining timber, old tires, rocks, roofing iron or pretty much anything else you can make stay in a shape and fill with soil.
The benefits of solid walls are:
- They don’t fall off or cave in
- Move stable in heavy rain
- Look better
- Can be raised quite high to allow easy access to the gardens without bending
Cedar is the perfect wood to build your beds with, it is untreated, but lasts a long time. You can buy kitset ones here
The benefits of raised beds in your garden
There are many benefits of using raised garden beds:
1. Raised beds are perfect for companion planting
This type of planting is ideal for companion plantings like carrot, leeks, and onions. If you have dirt only raised beds, the carrots go on the top of the bed and enjoy the deep soil while the farmer plants leeks and onions on the sides of the beds.
Companion planting like this will protect your vegetable beds from the actions of pests. The important benefits of raised garden beds have encouraged modern gardeners embrace the concept as well.
2. Raised garden beds look better
Modern raised garden beds have evolved to an extent where the sloping sides of the beds are replaced with solid frames. This gives the beds a well-defined look to your garden, keeping it crisp and tidy.
3. Raised beds drain better
If you have clay or rocky soil, raising the beds up is the easiest and most effective way of improving both the soil structure and the drainage. It also prevents soil erosion during rainy weather.
4. Easy accessibility to the garden
Accessibility is an important benefit of this garden system. If you have trouble bending or kneeling down, raised beds is the best solution for you.
You can design the garden to a height that allows you to garden in a more comfortable way. Some gardeners include benches in their designs to be able to perch on while working in the garden.
5. Better for the soil quality and structure
You control the soil quality because you choose what’s added to the garden. Generally you will start filling your raised beds with quality top soil, compost, leaves and other organic matter.
Since you don’t have to walk on the soil to care for the plants, you avoid disturbing the bio-activity and compacting the soil. Your soil becomes more aerated and beneficial to the plants because of this.
6. The soil is warmer, earlier
The soil in a raised bed will warm up sooner compared to a traditional garden during springtime. This gives you the opportunity to plant members of the Brassica family and peas earlier.
You can also build a cold frame that fits the top of your garden bed to extend the season by gardening in the shoulder seasons.
While some pests can be thwarted simply by companion planting and raising the beds, some may find their way into the garden beds. Groundhogs and bunnies won’t be able to nibble on the plants when you raise the height of the beds, and nets and row covers can be easily attached to raised beds to prevent birds and insects from accessing the crops.
If you are new to gardening, or want some support and knowledge getting a garden started, let me help you
7. No tilling
You don’t need to till the soil when planting on raised beds. Simply add your own fertile soil mix into the containers.
Since you don’t have to invest in a tiller, you save money when starting up the garden, and spend it on compost instead.
8. Less weeds
Weed reduction is another benefit of this type of garden. When you keep the soil of the raised beds separate from the wild surroundings, there are fewer chances for weed seeds to spread through the beds.
This reduces the growth of weed in your garden. This is especially true if you add a thick layer of mulch to the tops of the beds.
9. Faster plant growth
Quicker root development is another benefit of raised bed gardens. A gardener can expect a bigger, better, faster harvest because of the healthy root development.
Raised garden beds increase the harvest of your produce.
10. Raised beds make crop rotation easy
Crop rotation is a common gardening practice where you grow different fruits, vegetables, and plants during different seasons.
The nutritionally-rich soil of raised beds provide a great growing medium for the vegetables and fruits you plan to grow in the backyard.
Having smaller beds with obvious definitions makes it easy to number the beds and follow a crop rotation program.
Why we love raised garden beds in the vegetable garden
People don’t want to invest a lot in gardening when they start it as a hobby, raised garden beds are an inexpensive gardening tool for the novice and pro alike.
Raised garden beds are the ideal solution for when you want to start gardening on a shoestring budget.
There are many advantages to using raised garden beds which is why you should consider raised garden beds in your garden too.
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For further reading, I also recommend all of these books. I own every one of them and they are amazing resources!