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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52 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.

  14. Victoria says:

    So is planter box with great ceder wood with a plastic lining not healthy for the veggies. About to purchase and dont want to make the wrong room. Def want to grow organic.

    • The use of plastic is really a personal choice. If it’s food grade, it’s considered safe, but personally you may want to avoid it. The use of plastic is allowed under the National Organic Standards in the US.

  15. Sandy says:

    What is garden soil temperature in elevated raised beds? Is soil temperature 7-10 degrees less than ground soil? Is the soil temperature sane as air temperature?

    • Good question. I’m honestly not sure. If you want to warm the soil earlier in the spring, I suggest covering the bed with dark plastic to absorb more heat. Would be an interesting experiment to do if you have a soil thermometer.

  16. Erin says:

    What methods do you use for watering? I have a soaker hose in mine but I feel like the water just runs right through the soil and out of the box as soon as I turn the water on. I’m worried the Water isn’t having enough time to soak through the soil for an even watering.

    • I water mine from the top with a soft rain wand. Soaks in really well. If you allow the soil to get too dry between waterings, you’ll have a lot of run off. Try to keep the soil consistently moist to prevent this.

  17. diana says:

    Do you put layer of rocks in bottom of the elevated garden?

  18. Nancy H Carey says:

    Can you remove the wood bottom of an elevated bed and replace with 1/4” heavy wire screening and landscape fabric? Removing the extra weight from the planter would be nice so if I wanted to move it. Would the wire/landscape fabric with support be ok or would it cause too much moisture to escape?

    • I would worry that the screening or fabric would not be strong enough to support the weight of all that soil. If it would tear or rust, or you couldn’t fasten it securely enough, you would have quite a mess.

  19. Monica says:

    I am about to purchase the elevated planters. They asked if I wanted to have holes at bottoms.
    It’s ceder wood elevated planter box of 6ft X 2ft and 2ft height.
    Do we need the holes and if we do how many would be suggested?
    Thank You!

  20. Keith says:

    I just purchased a raised bed with 30″ legs. It came with a black plastic liner with small holes throughout the liner. I worry that the holes will eventually fill with dirt and not provide proper drainage. This is a cedar box. Could I add aged leaves rather than the liner?

    • I would suggest lining it with something inorganic to keep the wood from rotting. You can always make the holes in the liner larger if you’d like. Or use landscape fabric.

  21. jasmine says:

    I just got an elevated planter box made for my balcony. We’ve lined it w/ landscape fabric et al but someone else is below me and I don’t want water from waterings to drip down to her. Do you suggest a self water system of sorts so there is a reservoir and there is no overwatering and hence no drips down below to worry about?

    • Rather than doing something fancy like this, I recommend purchasing an expensive grill mat (it goes under barbecue grills to catch the grease drips) and putting it under the elevated raised bed. If you can find one with raised edges, even better.

  22. Irma Plante says:

    Love this article! I’m new to gardening and I have raised cedar vegetable beds on legs. I also live in Maine. In the Winter, Will it be OK to leave them exposed to the snow? Also should I cover them with something? Thank you, Irma

  23. Stella says:

    Hi Jessica, I also bought an elevated planter. I didn’t think of the wood rotting but I don’t want the water to drip on my patio floor through the wood panels. Can I layer the bottom with thick plastic and make a hole on each end. Catch the runoff water with a cup underneath each hole? But then the wood on each end will rot.

    • You need to make a drainage hole of some sort, but if you’re worried about protecting your patio, I think your catch basin idea would work. Another option would be to put a heavy-duty grill mat beneath it to protect from staining.

  24. Jennifer Strombom says:

    Hi Jessica –
    I just purchased the 2’ x 8’ Elevated Cedar Planter Box from Gardener’s Supply Company. We lined the bottom with the landscaping cloth it came with and filled it with an organic raised bed potting mix and planted vegetables. Some of the plant leaves are a little yellower than I’d like. I have stopped watering too frequently which could have been part of the issue (down 3x a week now). Wondering if we needed to have drilled a few holes in the bottom? The bottom cedar boards that hold the soil are lined up next to each other with tiny spaces in between. I have yet to mix in the plant food. Just concerned about root rot or other moisture issues. Thank you!

    • That’s the planter I have. Water drains just fine between the slats, but the soil is often wet further down, even when the top of the soil is dry. Stick your finger way down in before deciding whether or not you need to water. Fertilizers get washed out pretty quickly, so you might want to opt for a twice-monthly liquid fertilizer application. I like liquid kelp.

  25. Dave Rose says:

    My daughter just had a raised box built for my birthday. We never even discussed what material to use to build it. It was made with pressure treated wood. I planned on using it for produce. Is there anything I can place inside the box that would make it alright for edibles?

    • Pressure treated lumber has come a long way. It’s no longer treated with Chromium copper arsenate (CCA), so that’s good. Modern pressure treated lumber isn’t as bad as the “old stuff” but you still may want to consider lining the container with food-grade plastic before filling it with soil.

  26. Peter BIANCALANA says:

    My backyard has a hill and the previous owner built steps to go from the lower section to the upper section. On each side of the stairs, there are flower planters built with side walls and a some type of cloth between the walls to hold soil in which to plant flowers. The wooden walls are about 6 inches apart and the cloth used to hold the soil sags about 12 inches. The walls are 2 feet high. The stricture makes a nice flower bed on each side of the stairs. I don’t know how long ago these flower beds were built. I’ve had the house for 6 years. This year the cloth has ripped and needs to be replaced. I’m at a loss as to what kind of material to use to replace the original fabric. I’ve tried looking but it seems that the only material that would work is provided for pre-built flower beds. I just need material by the yard. Do you have any suggestions?

  27. Laurette says:

    We live in Minnesota. This is our first winter with a 2’ x 8’ elevated garden in the back yard. How do we prepare it for the “arctic blast” of winter?

    • There’s no preparation needed if you’ve harvested all of the plants out of it and it’s made from frost-proof materials (wood or metal). Perhaps covering with plastic would be a good idea to keep the water out which could freeze and cause the frame to crack. However, this isn’t a necessary step. Fall would be a good time to paint, stain, or seal the wood for added longevity.

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