While discussing gardening in a recent conversation, I was told that raised garden beds are the most ideal for the best results. Excited to learn more, I did some of my own research and compiled a list of 10 reasons why raised garden beds are better than the alternatives.
Why are raised garden beds better? Raised garden beds provide a variety of benefits to both the plants and the gardener. They do not require the same extensive setup and care procedures that other gardens do. With easy maintenance, fewer pests and weeds, and a great aesthetic raised beds are preferred over the traditional garden that lies directly on the ground.
Raised garden beds are the perfect alternative to the conventional everyday garden. Not only that but caring for plants and flowers in a raised bed is relatively easy and suitable for people with all levels of gardening experience. So, what makes such a simple structure so outstanding against their counterparts?
The Soil in a Raised Garden Bed is Better Without Tilling
When preparing to plant a brand new garden, the soil on the ground must go through a specific preparation process before the seeds can be inserted into the ground. This process includes using a tool called a garden tiller to sift through the soil and combine nutrients such as mulch and fertilizer into the mix.
This is essential before plotting seeds into the ground because the soil must be loose and aerated enough to be able to provide nutrients to the new plants. Generally, the soil will be naturally grouped into hard formations that are dried up and are not ready to receive and care for the seeds that will be planted.
This is a natural process that happens as a result of weather conditions such as rain and moisture that can cause the soil to clump together as well as heat from the sunlight that can dry it up. Furthermore, the process of tilling the garden must be repeated every year in order to maintain the quality of the soil throughout the entire garden.
Raised garden beds, however, do not require this much preparation at all. In fact, any kind of mulch, fertilizer, compost, and manure can be sprinkled directly on top of the soil in a raised bed regularly. Due to the natural processes that occur in this type of garden bed, there is no need to do manual labor to work these materials into the soil.
These natural processes are mostly credited to the efficient levels of drainage that exist in most raised garden beds, as well as the helpful insects that exist among the vegetation. The worms that crawl through the dirt in a raised planter break the soil apart and loosen it as they are passing.
The process of the soil rotating and loosening without any kind of human interaction is ideal for any garden, because manual tilling can sometimes cause more problems than it can solve. One of these problems, which will be highlighted in a future section of this article, is the spread of weed growth that commonly happens after the soil is forcefully broken apart and tampered with.
It Is Easier To Maintain a Raised Garden Bed
To go along with the fact that raised garden beds basically till their own soil, they also require much less maintenance than a typical garden. Just like the name suggests, the bed is “raised”, or in other words elevated. As a result, the gardener does not have to stand on their knees or constantly bend over in order to maintain their plants.
Instead of putting themselves at risk for serious back injury or otherwise increased tiredness, the process of adding nutrients to the soil and picking flowers now requires just one small reach for the gardener.
Without having to run a tiller and cultivator machine over the land multiple times throughout the life of the garden, they will also spend significantly less time caring for the plants and altering the position of the soil.
Since spreading nutrients and fertilizers into the soil of a raised garden bed will only require distributing it on top of its surface, this will essentially be one of the only tasks required to upkeep the health of the garden.
With the presence of consistent watering and fertilizing, there are really not many more maintenance tasks involved in keeping your plants alive and thriving.
The Aesthetic of Raised Garden Beds Is Better
Aside from all of the wonderful conveniences that come with planting your garden in a raised bed, this type of planter is also much easier on the eyes. The defined line between where your garden starts and ends will look cleaner with a raised bed than it would without one.
They can be planted almost anywhere, and are more likely to pass your city regulations or community guidelines for gardens in the front or back yard. On top of that, raised beds make it easier to distinguish paths and walkways.
Raised garden beds come in all shapes and sizes, with special designs that can fit any home, yard, or community. Whether your style is more traditional, rustic, or modern, there is a garden bed out there for you.
Raised Garden Beds Help to Keep Animals and Pests Away From the Crops
Since raised garden beds are elevated from the ground and are usually surrounded by some kind of box, it is harder for insects to climb up the steep sides and get to the plants. Slugs, however, will often still be able to get inside the planter, even if the altitude gets in their way.
Preventative measures can be taken to keep animals out of your garden. The simple placement of a special cloth at the bottom of a raised planter will keep rodents and groundhogs away from digging into the bottom to steal food from your garden.
If there are larger animals such as horses or deer in the area of your planter, you might want to purchase a special fence to go around the edges since they will be able to easily reach the vegetation in the absence of one.
The height of the barriers along the raised garden bed should deter most dogs, cats, and other pets from walking or urinating in the soil. As far as flying animals like birds, designated barriers, covers, and hoops can be installed on the sides of the planter to keep them from landing directly on your plants.
There Are Fewer Weeds To Pull in a Raised Garden Bed
Most people would never guess that the process of tilling the ground in preparation for a new garden can actually cause a larger amount of weeds to grow than they would naturally. When the soil in the ground is rotated by the garden tiller machine, the seeds from existing weeds are being spread through the soil.
As a result, the weeds will continue to sprout up from the hidden seeds in the ground throughout the entire year.
This engenders a tedious and repetitive task for the gardener because they must take the time to remove the weeds that grow around their plants and could potentially harm them. Regardless of whether they are pulled out by hand or electrically with a cultivator, the process of having to consistently pull weeds is not ideal for anyone.
While growing a garden in a raised bed, it is important to constantly provide the plants with nutrients such as mulch to avoid the future growth of weeds. In general, weeds are much less likely to have a large presence in raised garden beds as a whole because the soil is not initially tilled.
Raised Garden Beds Have Great Drainage Systems
The height and elevation of raised garden beds could not be more convenient than they are when storms and bad weather plagued the area in which they are planted. Raised garden beds are much more resistant to excess water and flooding on the ground several inches below them. In the event of a flood, the entire garden will be immune to the effects due to the elevation of the planter.
Most raised beds also have approximately 12 inches of depth at the very least, which leaves plenty of room for the plants to be able to effectively drain overflowing water while keeping them above water levels. As a result, these types of planters will drain better than a garden plot that is directly on the ground, even in the most severe and wet weather conditions.
Raised Beds Allow the Gardener to Plant Early
Another benefit of the high level of drainage in most raised planters is the ability to plant seeds earlier than usual. The plants are given plenty of room to breath and aerate by the planter bed which results in quick drying and warming of the soil for the best results.
This process happens much faster than it does with the soil on the ground, which is another reason why raised planter beds are directly better than standard gardens. Depending on the quality of the soil in each individual planter, the crops might even be able to continue growing throughout the winter months.
Raised Garden Beds Keep The Polluted Soil Out
In a traditional garden that is plotted on the ground, it is common for various types of bacteria and other contaminations to be present in the soil. This is especially true for people who live closer to the city and might have harmful substances and elements mixed into the ground where vegetables could be planted.
With the increased presence of vehicles in urban areas, there are tons of poisonous emissions that can sink into the soil as well as higher levels of lead that are already buried in the ground.
Although there are certain measures that can be taken in order to make sure that the soil in the ground is as safe as possible for a garden of vegetables, the gardener can rest assured that there is no pollution of any kind in their soil when using a raised planter.
This is possible because completely new and clean soil is added to the garden bed when the seeds are planted that has not yet been contaminated.
They Are Less Permanent
Even though raised garden beds are more likely to be approved by neighborhood or landlord guidelines due to the neat appearance and easy maintenance, there is still a possibility that something like this would not be allowed in your yard.
If a nice clean photo of a beautiful raised flower bed doesn’t cut it, you can start your garden in something more temporary such as a garden box.
This type of raised planter can be completely removed with no kind of digging required for installation. Even though raised planter beds are technically more removable than a regular garden in the ground, a garden box that is placed directly on top of a tarp is an even more temporary option.
So, whether you are restricted by a lease agreement or just scared of commitment in your own yard, there is absolutely nothing permanent about a removable garden box.
Raised Beds Are Ideal For Beginning Gardeners
The task of planting and taking care of an entire garden can be daunting for someone who has never done it before. Fortunately, raised garden boxes make the act of gardening simple for people with all levels of experience.
Along with the very simple process of starting a garden in a raised planter, this type of garden is not difficult to care for at all. In fact, most beginning gardeners that start with an elevated garden bed will immediately see success with beautiful plants and crops rather than learning from unnecessary mistakes.
Raised garden beds completely cut the entire process of tilling and cultivating the soil before beginning to plant seeds. Going back even further to the earliest stages of garden planning, there are advanced measures that must be taken in order to make sure the type of soil that exists in the ground is even ideal for a garden in the first place.
This includes wetting the entire area of land and waiting one full day to observe the behavior of the dirt to determine what kind of soil it is. To be even more thorough in this practice, a store-bought pH testing kit might be necessary to purchase as well.
To conclude, the benefits that come with raised garden beds clearly outweigh the negatives. If you are able to commit to or gain approval for the installation of one of these planters, it can become a tasteful decorative addition to any yard or community.
There are no limits to who can plant and maintain a garden in a raised garden bed, and higher success rates come with this type of planter along with the surprisingly low maintenance requirements.
How can I be sure that slugs will not be able to enter my raised planter?
Although raised garden beds are elevated from the ground and might make it harder for pests to get to your crops, it is not impossible for slugs to climb up the side of the framing. However, there is a small trick to prevent this from happening. It is a common belief among gardeners and farmers that if you coat your planter with copper flashing the slugs will leave it alone.
How much does it cost to invest in a raised garden bed?
Depending on the size, shape, and aesthetic properties of each individual garden bed, the price can be anywhere from $50 to $2,000. The middle range of average garden planters, however, is between $100 and $200 total.
These prices, however, do not include the cost of filling the bed with bags of soil and planting your seeds. Relative to the depth and overall capacity of each raised garden bed, you will likely need to purchase several bags of soil to fill up the entire thing.
Alternatively, you can purchase your own wood and build the frame of the planter yourself for a much lower price. If you decide to go this route, it will require additional tools, supplies, and some form of basic construction skills.
What are the best things to plant in a raised garden bed?
Raised garden beds are most ideal for fruit and vegetable gardens, as well as anything that will be consumed after it is grown. Due to the clean and fresh soil that is planted in these beds, there is little to no risk for the contamination of produce and root vegetables that would normally soak up these substances in a traditional garden. Elevated planters are also great to use for colorful flower beds and decorative gardens. There are plenty of options for aesthetically nice garden beds that can go along with almost any decorative theme in your home or yard. In addition, they can be custom built to fit your artistic vision.