Elevated raised bed gardening is a great way to grow! (AD)

Elevated raised bed gardening: The easiest way to grow!

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If you’re looking for an easier way to garden, elevated raised bed gardening may just be your new best friend. With this technique, you can harvest oodles of fruits and veggies, armloads of flowers, and endless bunches of herbs with minimal effort. It’s seriously easy to garden in elevated raised beds! To help us share the joys of this super-simple method of growing, we’ve teamed up with Gardener’s Supply Company, a Vermont-based, employee-owned company that manufactures beautiful raised planter boxes and lots of other tools to make gardening both fun and trouble-free.

Introduction to elevated raised bed gardening

Gardening in elevated raised beds is basically a hybrid gardening technique. It’s half container gardening and half raised bed gardening. Traditional raised beds lack a bottom and are fairly large in size, while containers have a base to contain the soil and are far smaller than a raised bed. Elevated raised bed gardening combines the best of both worlds.

With this method, the soil is completely contained and the growing area is substantially sized. Then, to put the proverbial icing on the cake, elevated raised bed gardening gives the gardener a literal leg-up by raising the planting area up to working height.

As you’re about to learn, there are multiple benefits of gardening in raised planters — and getting started is a snap!

Gardening in an elevated raised planter is a great way to grow! (AD)

This elevated raised bed from Gardener’s Supply Company is perfect for growing a wide array of plants. The height makes it super easy to maintain. Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company

The benefits of elevated raised bed gardening

The perks of gardening in elevated raised beds are many. Aside from the obvious advantage of never having to bend over or kneel to plant or pick your peppers and pansies, gardening in an elevated planter box means you’ll be able to enjoy the following:

  • No weeds (take that, bittercress!)
  • No ground-dwelling pests to nibble plant roots
  • No soil-borne fungal diseases to contend with
  • No rabbits and groundhogs munching on your lettuce
  • No need to set up a sprinkler or drip system to water
  • No issues with water-logged clay soil or fast-draining sandy soil
  • No need to leave the deck or patio to harvest
  • No back aches, creaking knees, or inflamed hip joints (goodbye, ibuprofen!)

Selecting raised planter boxes/elevated raised beds

When shopping for an elevated raised bed, here are a few traits to keep in mind.

1. First and foremost, look for a planter that has drainage and is made from materials that will last for many years. The beautiful elevated raised bed from Gardener’s Supply Company shown above and below, for example, is made from naturally rot-resistant cedar boards with sturdy, rust-proof aluminum legs. It will weather many seasons without issue, and the legs can support hundreds of pounds of soil and plant material. They even offer the planter box in different color choices.

Raised planter boxes need to be made of weather-resistant, food-safe materials. (AD)

Make sure your raised planter box is made from weather-resistant, food-safe materials. Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company

2. Make sure your raised planter box is a safe place to grow food. If you plan to plant edibles, it should be free from plastics, harmful paints and stains, and chemically preserved woods.

3. Next, consider the planter’s size. Elevated raised bed gardening means the roots of your plants will be restricted by the dimensions of the bed. Make sure the raised planter you choose is deep enough to handle root crops, like carrots and parsnips, and provides plenty of room for the roots of larger plants, like tomatoes, eggplants, sunflowers, and others. The dimensions of the planter box featured in this article are 92″ long, 24″ wide, and 10″ deep — perfect for a wide range of flowers, fruits, veggies, and herbs! If that’s too long for your space, Gardener’s Supply Company also has a four-foot-long elevated planter bed available, too.

4. The total height of your elevated raised bed garden is important, as well. If it’s too tall, you’ll get tired of reaching up, but if it’s not tall enough, the constant slight bend in your back will have you at the chiropractor’s in short order.

5. Lastly, it’s important to consider the planter’s maintenance needs. Elevated raised bed gardening is supposed to make your life easier, not complicate it. Skip planter boxes that require yearly painting or staining, or those that will rust, warp, or become brittle with constant exposure to sunlight.

Placing your elevated garden planter

Once you’ve selected the elevated raised bed that’s right for you, it’s time to put it in place. These planters are heavy when filled to the brim with soil, so don’t fill the planter box until you’re happy with its placement.

Most fruits and veggies require at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun. Gardeners planning to grow edibles when elevated raised bed gardening need to place the planters in full sun. If you’re growing sun-loving annuals, the rule is the same. But for shade-lovers, a nice spot in the shade or part shade will do just fine.

In addition, make sure your raised planter box is close to a spigot or rain barrel to make watering a snap. Lugging watering cans to a distant location every day can be a real drag. Keeping your garden close to the kitchen door is a plus, too!

Elevated planters are a great place to grow herbs. (AD)

If you’re growing herbs and other edibles in your elevated planter, make sure it receives maximum sunlight and place it close to the kitchen door for easy harvests.

Filling your raised planter box

As with in-ground growing, the secret to successful elevated raised bed gardening is in the soil. While most elevated planter boxes are sturdy, they aren’t built to hold heavy, clay-based garden soil. Instead, they’re designed to be filled with a mixture of high-quality potting soil and compost. Mix 2/3 potting soil with 1/3 compost, toss in a few handfuls of organic granular fertilizer, and you’ll be ready to grow! (Unless, of course, you’re going to be growing cacti and/or succulents in your raised planter; in that case add coarse builder’s sand to the mix, instead of compost.)

Growing tomatoes in elevated raised bed gardening is easy with the right varieties. (AD)

There are many different vegetables you can grow in an elevated raised bed, including dwarf tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and more! Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company.

What to grow when elevated raised bed gardening

When it comes to gardening in raised planters, the possibilities are endless! There are so many plants that will do wonderfully in such an environment.

  • Plant an elevated raised bed full of compact vegetable varieties, including ‘Tumbling Tom’ tomatoes, ‘Fairy Tale’ eggplants, ‘Mohawk Patio’ peppers, and ‘Thumbelina’ carrots.
  • Or how about growing an herbal paradise? ‘Spicy Globe’ basil, creeping thyme, lemongrass, rosemary, and parsley will perform to perfection.
  • Small-statured berry plants, such as ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ red raspberries, ‘Top Hat’ blueberries, and strawberries, are beautiful and productive in an elevated raised bed.
  • Flowers are another lovely option. Most annuals do quite well in raised planters, just be sure to include a few trailing varieties to spill over the bed’s edge.
  • Fairy gardens and miniature plants are another unique option, especially since they’ll be at eye-level for curious little hands and eyes.
  • You can even plant dwarf flowering shrubs and small-statured evergreens when gardening in an elevated raised bed. Doing so will make a great privacy screen between close balconies, patios, and porches.

 

We hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at the many advantages of elevated raised bed gardening and all the possibilities it brings to the landscape. A big thank you to Gardener’s Supply Company for allowing us to feature their elevated planter and share this exciting and oh-so-easy style of gardening with our Savvy Gardening readers. 

Do you grow in raised beds or elevated planters? We’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!

Elevated raised bed gardening is easy and fun! Grow lots of veggies, fruits, herbs, and flowers with this useful technique. (AD)

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24 Responses to Elevated raised bed gardening: The easiest way to grow!

  1. Karen Shannon says:

    What a great article! Loads of great information!
    I have a lovely planter, which I filled with potting soil so it would be lighter because it is on an elevated deck. How do I add nutrients to what essentially is a dead medium? Should I change the soil every year to avoid disease?

    • Thanks, Karen. Glad you found the article useful. As for rejuvenating spent potting soil, ideally it should be replaced every year, but I know that’s an expensive proposition in a container this large. So, if you didn’t face any fungal issues in your raised planter, you can keep about 2/3 of the soil mix from year to year. Just add a mixture of fresh potting soil and a compost to top it off every season. Mix it together well before planting. If you had a fungal issue, such as tomato blight, basil downy mildew, botrytis, or the like, I’d suggest completely changing the soil out.

  2. Denise says:

    I recently purchased a plastic elevated garden container after some time deciding (2 yrs) on whether or not to purchase because of the initial expense and would it work. I planted several cold weather crops broc., brussel sprouts, & lettuce. I live in southern PA and it gets pretty warm in the summer. The crops did well for awhile then I think it got too hot too quick ? I may also have planted them a little late although it was early May. Do you recommend other plants to try ? I am disappointed in my first attempt. Hoping to find other things that might do better in the elevated garden your advice is greatly appreciated.

    • As with in-ground gardening, it’s important that you time your planting’s correctly when growing in elevated planter boxes. Cold-weather crops, like lettuce, peas, and cole crops, should be planted very early in the season, while it’s best to wait to plant warm-season crops, like tomatoes, peppers, and basil, until after the danger of frost has passed. I definitely recommend you try again. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It may take a season or two of trial and error, but you’ll learn what to plant when and be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

  3. Faith says:

    As winter approaches, should all soil be removed — with fresh soil/compost used in teh spring?

    • Hi Faith. Ideally, you should replace all of the soil in containers on a yearly basis, especially if you grow disease-prone vegetables like tomatoes. However, this would be very difficult for a large elevated planter bed like the one in this article. If you can’t replace 100% of the soil, remove at least 1/3 of it and replace it with a blend of 2/3 compost and 1/3 new potting soil each spring.

  4. Robin Clark says:

    Jessica, I really enjoyed reading your article, it was very fun and informative, and I appreciate it, I learned so much!

  5. Robin P. says:

    Do we line the inside of the “box” with any material to protect the wood and drill holes for drainage?? Plastic I assume would not be a good choice, but what should go between the box and the soil??

    • If you’re using a planter box that’s made from cedar, redwood, locust, or any other naturally rot-resistant wood, there’s no need to line it. But, if you do choose to line it, landscape fabric would be a better option than plastic, in my opinion.

  6. Larry says:

    I am an old man and I need an elevated method of growing tomatoes. I have never grown them myself and the neighbor who provided me with home-grown tomatoes is gone. Would the containers in this article be good for growing large slicing tomatoes? The pictures only show the dinky little cherry tomatoes.

    • Yes, you could grow full-sized tomatoes in an elevated raised bed planter, but I would suggest growing patio-type tomatoes that don’t grow very large in size but still form large fruits. My favorites are Glacier, Totem, and Patio.

  7. Brooke M Detamore says:

    I have a very large elevated raised bed. I feel I am losing nutrients by way of washing out. What is the best way to keep nutrients in my planter bed?

    • I would suggest adding a few inches of compost to the bed every spring. Then, add a cup or two of organic granular fertilizer about a week before planting. Mix the fertilizer into the soil and your plants will be happy as can be!

  8. Mark says:

    I have just gotten my first elevated beds. Should the bottom be lined first with felt and then 2-3″ of crushed stone for drainage? I have heard this from some reports, but not all. What is best practice?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Mark. Great question. Whether or not you line the bottom of the container depends on what it’s made of. You can line with plastic if you’d like, but be sure to poke some drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic. Do not add crushed stone to the bottom of any container. It’s a common myth that this practice improves drainage; unfortunately it does the exact opposite by raising the water table in the container and saturating roots quicker.

  9. Anthony Nobisso says:

    I have a raised bed and I filled it with a raised bed garden mix from lowes. I think a 10-5-5. Is that good enough or should I have added some compost to it as well ( I thought the mix had everything in it for my raised bed?

  10. Linda says:

    Can roses be planted in elevated beds?

    • Absolutely. If you live where winters get very cold, you may want to insulate the roots with a layer of mulch for the winter and select varieties that are very hardy.

  11. Darby says:

    Where do you get this compost soil? We have our own compost, but not at the capacity that it would turn into soil. Can you purchase this ready to go?

  12. Judy says:

    Thank you for this interesting post. I’m just getting into gardening and am particularly interested in raised beds for a number of reasons. I’m wondering what material for the planter to choose: the post says, no plastics if it’s for foods, but I saw Niki in a video saying she’d been using the Lee Valley Vegepod Containter Garden for food crops. I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this. All be the best!

    • BPA-free food-grade plastics are best, if you choose to grow in plastic containers. It’s up to the individual. I don’t like to grow food in plastic, though plenty of folks do.

  13. Carol Aquilante says:

    I was in a local Rural King store and came across their raised animal watering troughs. It was the perfect height for me and at about $130, the price was reasonable. The size inside was 9 feet long by 22 inches wide and 10 inches deep. Just perfect. It just needed to have holes drilled into the bottom. It was set on a metal frame that should provide years of functionality.

    I bought three and arranged it in the shape of a “U” making it just perfect for easy accessibility. A new wire fence was being installed in the back yard so I had them install some extra fencing around my garden area creating a room away from the dogs. My big dog is not opposed to pulling up the plants. The fenced room was ten feet wide and 20 feet long that made the fit perfect for the beds. The fence can also be utilized for anything that is grown that will vine and need support.

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