Do Garden Beds Need To Be Level?


There are many benefits to elevated garden beds. You may have bought the perfect home because of its vicinity to verdant, rolling hills, or the beautiful view of the ocean. Your property may have everything you require, but sports an extreme drop on one side, have bumps or high patches. In spite of this, you’ve decided you would like a garden. You may now be unsure if you can have one. Before you give up on the idea of having a garden, there are a few options to consider. These options will require you to do a little more prep and to keep in mind not just your ideal plant layout, but the topography of your property. One of the biggest concerns will be any place on your property where there are slopes, hills, inclines, and the like. These types of environments can present unique problems, and you can do your garden a grave disservice by not carefully observing the terrain. Planting on uneven ground can be striking visually, and breaks up monotonous rows with unexpected bursts of color. However, you must be aware of the risks you undertake in planting in soil that has a sharp drop or uneven descent.

So, do elevated garden beds need to be level? Raised garden beds should be level in order to properly provide the necessary ingredients for a successful garden. Nutrients, soil, and sunlight can combine to make the perfect atmosphere for a sprawling garden utopia. Slopes and inclines can interrupt this process by creating excess soil erosion and uneven distribution of water and sunlight.

But don’t panic or waste any time regretting your decision to live atop a gorgeous incline with a breathtaking view or a slope that curves down into a grassy plain. It is quite possible to plant along with these kinds of terrains with just a few simple adjustments. With a little bit of planning, you can still have a garden that is healthy and vigorous. There are a few reasons why leveling is important, and that includes making sure that your plants can get everything that they need to thrive.

Soil Erosion

It may look like the soil beneath your feet stays the same year after year, but the soil is often in a state of flux. Wind, rain, snow, and hail all have a hand in washing away soil and moving it from place to place. This happens often to the uppermost part of the soil, called topsoil. Topsoil is where most of the nutrients and minerals lie, and it is essential to the health of your garden. A sloping hill or incline increases the rate of soil removal by the elements and can cause major deficiencies in your plants and vegetables. The uppermost part of the soil is the topsoil. Slowing down the rate of erosion is key. Keeping as much topsoil around helps your plants grow. Erosion can increase in areas that have steep inclines or irregular peaks and valleys.  

 Sunlight

As you are probably already aware, sunlight is a critical part of plant growth. Sunlight stimulates plants to undergo important changes, including photosynthesis, a process that creates natural food for stems, roots, and leaves. Although plants can’t move from place to place, they can tilt their leaves towards sources of the sun to better accommodate nutritional needs. In spite of this, try to accommodate plant and vegetable needs by observing how sunlight falls in some areas versus others. You’ll notice that some areas will get more sunshine than others. While one area on a slope may be awash with vibrant sunshine, another could be swathed in shadow, a harbinger of doom if you’re looking to grow robust, healthy plants and veggies. Seedlings that are deprived of appropriate sunlight may grow at a slower rate or not at all. It is important to remember this and plan your garden accordingly.

Rainwater

Rainwater often helps to stimulate plant growth by hydrating dry roots and leaves, and also helps to distribute nutrients throughout the garden bed. Water runs throughout the layout and deposits necessary minerals. So getting ample amounts of rainwater can be a good thing. However, rainwater is a big contributing factor in the runoff. Runoff is the process by which water flows over soil rather than being absorbed. The object is to make sure your plants and veggies are getting the most out of the soil they’re in. Runoff can keep your chrysanthemums, lilies, and tomatoes from blossoming due to not only the loss of soil and nutrients, but it poses a threat of excess flooding in areas that are wildly sloped or tilted. Another concern is that rainwater is great for can contain pollutants and pesticides that don’t bode well for the environment or your garden. In fact, you should be on the lookout for points in an uneven garden where rainwater collects as pollutants, pesticides, and other wastes can accumulate.

Discourage soil erosion

Soil erosion may be inevitable, but there are ways to slow the process down. One of the ways you can equip your garden from unnecessary soil loss is by building into the shape of your terrain. Planting along the natural contour of your area will minimize soil loss and encourage the absorption of nutrients. In other words, go with the flow and plant according to how your land is arranged. You’ll find that gardening in this way will increase the effectiveness of fertilizers and irrigation and will maintain a better plant environment. You can use raised garden berms to begin this process. A berm is simply a rounded mound of soil that works with the natural slope of an elevated garden bed. Though some people may prefer to use berms to increase the attractiveness of their gardens on level land, it can also be used to nurture gardens that have uneven ground. A build-up of nutrient-dense soil can decrease the rate at which erosion happens, allowing for plants to healthily develop. Other techniques include in-ground raised garden beds.

Raised garden beds

In-ground raised garden beds are exactly what they sound like: they are rest areas for your growing seedlings. A raised bed will often feature a variety of materials. You can use lumber, plastic, aluminum, and even a combination of recyclable matter. Raised garden beds are basically square, enclosed plots that are raised above the surrounding area. These are often great for controlling the amount and kind of soil mix for differing plant types, and often less work over the coming year is needed. It can even decrease tilling, a process that I’m sure you’ll agree is arduous for many a gardener. It does this by keeping the soil loose and aerated, an important aspect of root matrices.

Related Questions

How Do I Build a Raised Garden Bed?

If you are wondering how to build raised garden beds, you have come to the right place. You can either build your own raised garden bed or use a kit. With the vast array of materials available for a raised garden bed, you’re sure to find something that fits your unique needs. Metal raised garden beds are a great option in terms of materials. You can build as many plots as needed, and there is no set standard on how wide, long, or deep a bed has to be (though most experts would agree that at least 6-inches deep is optimal).

Building cheap raised garden beds is something most people lean toward. Those factors all depend on what you’ll be planting, the way your land is laid out, and how you will be organizing each individual garden beds. Once you’ve picked your spot and decided on the materials to be used, the rest is easy. The first thing you must do is the measure and mark the length of your materials for your garden bed walls. The next step includes devising supports for the corners of your frame. This is needed to retain the strength of the overall structure.

After that, you can begin putting the boards for each wall together. Attach the corner posts to each wall board with screws using a drill. Connect all the sides to create a box shape. If you have created your bed, the next step will include another type of preparation. You must now center your bed and outline the edges with a shovel and at the same time, loosen the dirt and grass around it. Remove any rocks, stones or big clumps of dirt. If you’re wondering what to use for the bottom of the garden bed, the best idea would be to utilize wire mesh.

You can purchase this at any hardware or gardening store and attach it to the structure using a staple gun. This will discourage the growth of weeds without disrupting the movement of other much-needed organisms, such as worms and insects. At the same time, be sure that there is no gap in the mesh and the bottom is completely covered. This will protect your plants and flowers from pests such as mice and moles.

What Should I line My Raised Garden Bed With?

Before you add the soil, you should think carefully about what you line your raised garden bed with. You can use landscape fabric, which can also be found at most quality gardening supply shops or hardware stores. Stay away from non-porous plastics as they can hold in too much precipitation. 

What Can I Do To Enrich the Soil of My Garden Bed?

There are a variety of options to create good, rich soil for planting in your garden bed. Soil is the key ingredient in getting the best results from all your gardening efforts. Planning what you will put in your soil will go a long way in creating a fantastic display of great veggies, green leafy plants, or colorful flowers. There are a few things to think about in regards to creating a unique soil mixture. You can include materials like compost, which is made up of a miscellaneous organic matter like decomposed plants and can be topped with mulch. You can also add a soil amendment, sometimes called a soil conditioner to your soil as well. A soil amendment functions much like a multi-vitamin in a human—it adds much-needed properties that may be lacking or low in composition. What you should add will depend on the climate, what you will be planting, and the condition of the existing soil. Lime, for example, is a wonderful additive if you are seeking to make your soil bed less acidic. The pH is a factor that most gardeners must think about in regards to the quality of their soil. This is because pH often affects how plants can absorb certain nutrients. Other additions can include clay soil, which is a mixture of clay and silt. This is useful in gaining soil that more easily retains moisture. This can be key in climates that are drier. Gypsum is great for decreasing the levels of salt in a soil environment. Salt can make the soil less porous and more prone to clumping, a condition that isn’t good for good nutrient distribution.

If I Use Wood for My Raised Garden Bed, What Kind Should It Be?

Don’t think that a wooden raised garden bed is a limited choice. In fact, for those who go with wood, there is an array of options to choose from. Keep in mind, however, that certain woods may be vulnerable to rot. To avoid this, most gardeners may choose cedar, a wood that is well-known for its rot-resistant properties. Other woods that are rot-resistant include redwood, juniper, and white cedar. Though there have been some concerns with pressure-treated woods that use chromate copper arsenate (CCA) to resist rot ( a key component of arsenic) this kind of wood has been slowly been phased out, and most pressure-treated woods have been shown to be safe for growing plants fit for consumption. Many gardeners may instead choose to use untreated woods, and most garden beds built with wood can last many years, some as long as 10 or 15 years a stretch.

How Much Space Should I Allow Between Each Bed?

Although most elevated raised garden beds vary wildly according to depth, height, and length, a common rule regarding space in between each individual bed is that it should allow for walking and comfortable gardening while discouraging the growth of weeds. Some estimates go as far as four feet in between and as narrow as a little under two feet. It really depends on the kinds of plants you will have in each bed, as some plants require more room, while others are okay with being squeezed in a bit. It is always essential to think about the growth patterns of each plant before you plan out your garden. This will ultimately determine what kind of space you will need between each individual raised garden bed.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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