My interest for gardening in raised beds was piqued when I started researching how to build the original two raised beds in my yard. I wanted them for aesthetic reasons, but it wasn’t long before I discovered there are a ton of other benefits of raised bed gardens.
One thing I emphasize in my first book, Raised Bed Revolution, is that you can put a raised bed absolutely anywhere, provided your chosen spot gets at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day. I include both big and small DIY projects, but the book doesn’t include the project plan for those first two beds.
Luckily, I got a chance to include this easy project plan in a new book that I contributed to called Gardening Complete: How to Best Grow Vegetables, Flowers, and Other Outdoor Plants. I’m in great company with other Cool Springs Press authors, including one of my Savvy Gardening co-owners, Jessica Walliser.
In that raised bed chapter, I also speak to the benefits of raised bed gardens, which I’ve excerpted here.
Why are raised beds an ideal option for any gardener?
For starters, they can be built to whatever size you need them to be. Furthermore, you can place them absolutely anywhere, provided that space gets six to eight hours of sunlight a day. (Of course, if your raised bed is destined for a shady area, you’ll want to choose your plants accordingly.)
Raised beds can be put wherever a traditional vegetable garden would go: on a driveway; along the side of a house; on a rooftop garden, patio, or balcony; on the corner of a deck—anywhere, really. You see raised beds often in community gardens because they’re a great way to define a garden’s boundaries and keep an allotment neat and tidy (like what I wanted to do with my original garden). Wherever you choose to put your raised bed, there are lots of design and material options to suit your space (wood, fabric, steel, and more), as well as upcycling ideas. So, let’s get started and talk about some of these benefits that will help you create and grow a flourishing garden in a raised bed.
A few benefits of raised bed gardens
Not only can raised beds visually elevate your garden, but they can also present a number of benefits that are appealing to gardeners, such as solving accessibility issues; being able to plant earlier in spring because the soil warms up sooner; preventing pest problems (they can be made high enough that bunnies and groundhogs can’t help themselves, or you can find ways to cover them); improving drainage; and more. You also don’t need a traditional patch of soil—raised beds can be plunked absolutely anywhere.
Accessibility: Raised beds make gardening more accessible to those who have trouble kneeling down or bending over because you can design them to be at a height that allows gardening in a more comfortable way. Some designs have benches, while others have wider edges that allow you to perch on the side and reach into garden. The recommended height of a raised bed is at least 10 inches, but you can keep stacking boards until you’re happy with the height.
Soil: One biggest benefits of raised bed gardens is that the gardener controls the soil quality by choosing what’s added into the garden. This is great news for those who need to place their raised bed on pavement or gravel, or those who are worried about the quality of the soil underneath the raised bed. If a raised bed is placed over hard-packed or clay soil, the roots of the plants, especially root vegetables, will hit a wall as they try to grow downward. Raising the garden up higher ensures that plants are only reaching into the healthy, friable soil that’s been placed inside. Also, by reaching to tend the plants in a raised bed instead of walking on the soil, you avoid compacting the soil and disturbing that beneficial web of activity (worms and microorganisms) that occurs beneath the surface.
Soil temperature: Because the soil in a raised bed warms up sooner than a traditional garden in the springtime, you can plant those cool-weather-loving crops, such as peas and members of the Brassica family, earlier. You can also garden later and extend your season by building a cold frame or by turning your garden into a mini hoophouse.
Pest control: Of course, despite your best efforts, some pests may find their way into a raised bed, but some can be thwarted. You can increase the height of your bed so that bunnies and groundhogs are not able to nibble. And you can use row cover and nets to prevent certain bad insects and birds from accessing your crops.
A few more benefits of raised bed gardens:
- You can garden in limited spaces
- Keep spreaders, such as mint, in check
- Increase your yield
- Rotate crops
- Extend the growing season
- And more!
Related post with raised bed tips