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!
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 and different sizes.
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. Another easy option is to use a self-watering elevated planter bed like this one. Keeping your garden close to the kitchen door is a plus, too!
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.)
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!