If you’re struggling with keeping your garden organized, then you might surely appreciate raised garden beds. After all, raised bed gardens allow you to maintain your plants with ease while keeping your garden orderly at the same time.
In its simplest form, you can think of a raised bed as a flower box with no bottom. You don’t have to step inside the raised bed; instead, you do all the gardening work from its outer perimeter. With all the advantages it has, let us talk about what you should consider before you start building yours:
Raised Garden Bed Considerations
On average, raised beds normally span between 3-4 feet wide and 6-8 feet long. With this, you can reach into the bed with ease from the side to start planting your crops and removing weed without the need to step inside the garden. As a result, you’ll be avoiding the risk of compacting the soil.
Height is another important consideration. If you plan to place your raised bed on a flat, hard surface, then you’d have to make sure it is deep enough for your plants to root (this is especially true for root vegetables such as carrots and beets).
However, if it ended up too shallow, then the roots will reach down to the subsoil then hit a wall. Ideally, you’d want to go for at least 10 to 12 inches.
The amount of soil you need for your raised bed will actually depend on a few factors. To help you determine, you can instead use some soil calculators out there, such as this one from Gardener’s Supply.
When it comes to the size of the soil, I would highly recommend using high-quality soil which you can afford for your garden. You can use a triple mix which you can buy from a local supplier then combine it with organic vegetable compost. You’d also want to leave a few as a reserve for your bed throughout the season.
Location is a really important factor you should consider when building a raised bed garden. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in your backyard. You can either place it on your front yard or the driveway.
However, if you have a slope, you’ll have to make some adjustments. You should also determine if the area drains well or not.
In order to make sure your plants can receive optimum health, you should place your raised garden bed in a location which can receive at least eight hours of sunlight exposure every day. Avoid placing it in a low, wet area where the soil can become soggy. Also, make sure the location has a hose nearby. Even before you place the raised garden bed in its permanent location, make sure you clean the area first by removing any grass or weed present.
One of the most common concerns gardeners face is proper grass removal. If you’ve tried cutting or removing sod, then you know how hard of a task that can be. However, an easy way that can help you get rid of grass is to outline the space then have it covered with cardboard then soil afterward.
Using this method, the grass will simply break down, especially when done during the fall where everything will break down over the winter.
The last thing you want to consider when building a raised bed is irrigation. If you’re planning to set up a whole drip irrigation system, then you’d want to complete the process before finishing your raised bed.
This way, you can allow the hoses to run under pathways then adapt your raised bed around where the hose is attached to the irrigation system.
Why You’d Want to Consider Raised Bed Gardening
A lot of gardeners are starting to embrace the idea of raised bed gardening. In case you haven’t joined the trend yet, then here are some of the reasons that might convince you:
With a raised bed, you can easily maintain your garden and tend your plants. This is because there’s no need to bend over as it’s basically elevated above the ground. This removes any strain on the back and knees which is common on traditional gardening.
Also, there’s the fact that you can get creative when building your bed, allowing you to customize it however you want. You can even raise it to standing level if you want. You can also place wheels to make it mobile. Of course, there will be people who’ll point out that it’s actually a planter.
However, it’s really just semantics. After all, raised beds don’t have bottoms.
Another thing that makes raised bed gardening appealing is the fact that you can reduce the total number of weeds in your garden. There are several reasons for this; however, it mostly has to do with the design.
In case you’re somewhat confused, allow me to do a bit of explaining.
When preparing a garden bed, you’ll start by cleaning the ground where it’s going to be placed. This would involve removing any weeds found on the topsoil. Ideally, you’d want to remove the rocks as well.
Some gardeners choose to lay cardboard or newspapers under the garden bed in an effort to prevent weeds and grass from growing back. The best part is, since they are biodegradable, they will eventually decay and provide nutrients which the plants can use later on.
After that, the garden bed is then filled with nutrient-rich soil. Due to its nice and loose nature, any weed or grass that grows can be pulled with ease. It will also limit the growth rate of weeds, thus allowing you to reduce the number of weeds that can grow in your garden.
Improved Soil Drainage
Another reason why you’d want to consider raised bed gardening is because it can help improve soil drainage. This is because the soil which is used on a raised bed is never stepped, hence preventing the possibility of compacting it.
Also, a raised garden bed will allow the water found in the soil to freely drain, allowing enough air to get to the roots of the plants. Keep in mind that excess or standing water can only end up choking your crops.
When deciding on a soil to use for your garden bed, make sure you go for one which is rich in nutrients and organic matter. Don’t go for potting soil as it can drain too quickly. Also, pay attention to the amount of manure you combine into your soil mixture. This is because it is high in nitrogen, and too much nitrogen can end up stunting the growth of your plants.
Soil Erosion Prevention
This is one major advantage of raised bed gardening which you shouldn’t take lightly. The act of preventing soil erosion with the use of a raised garden bed can actually be a major selling point, especially if you’re living in an area which receives a lot of rain.
Most gardeners often have to deal with their soil being eroded due to rain, and this could mean a lot more work for them. There’s also the fact that buying high-quality soil can be quite expensive. Due to a raised garden bed’s design, you can prevent your precious soil from getting eroded during rains.
This could be one of the major reasons why a lot of gardeners are starting to get in on the raised bed gardening trend! After all, raised beds are so cool and aesthetically pleasing. There’s the fact that you can use your creativity as well as imagination to create a custom design for your garden bed.
There are also some gardeners who used raised garden beds as accents for their yards and gardens.
What You Want to Plant
Once you have set up your raised garden bed, you have the freedom to plant it with any type of vegetable you want. If you’re a fan of salad, you can choose to plant cherry tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, and cucumbers. Meanwhile, if you’re into cooking, you can plant peppers, potatoes, onions, and herbs.
Gardening in a raised garden bed will be all about maximizing productivity. The challenge you should face is growing as many crops as possible without planting too many. After all, if you end up overcrowing the bed, your plants won’t be able to reach their full potential due to poor air circulation, nutrients, and water.
You should also consider the growth habit of each plant you want to as it will affect the growth of the other plants in the same bed. For example, planting carrots alongside lettuce is okay. However, planting lettuce along with a cucumber could be a problem.
With a raised garden bed, you can have an easier and more enjoyable means of gardening. You can benefit from its easy maintenance, aesthetic value, less weed issues, and possible erosion prevention.
Are you planning to consider a raised garden bed? Maybe you already have one in your garden. What are your thoughts about it? Will you be able to harvest your crops successfully? Let us know in the comments.
Also, don’t forget to share this information with your gardener friends. Thanks for reading!