Raised Garden Beds-Are They Really Worth Building?

We love gardening, and are fortunate enough to be able to raise about 75% of our own produce each year. That’s accounting for all the produce we freeze, can and dehydrate as well as eat fresh. We use a combination of containers, raised beds and “conventional” ground gardens to accomplish this.

Is digging down into the soil of your backyard really worth it? What about all that time stooping, bending, and walking through dirt rows to reach your vegetables? How do you keep from sinking into the ground when it’s full of mud after a hard rain?

Maybe it’s time to consider using raised garden beds.

raised garden beds post

Why We Use Raised Garden Beds

It’s easier to keep down the weeds in raised garden beds.

We place cardboard and the paper from our chicken feed bags under the bed boxes to keep grass and weeds to a minimum. It’s much easier to weed when there isn’t any, right? Plus, the bags are made of paper so they get composted down. The only drawback is that we have to do that each year, since the bags don’t last after a season. Cardboard also composts down and we can go almost 2 years before we have to replace them. We figure out when it’s time when the weeding becomes more work and make a note in our garden book for that bed.

Raised garden beds are easier on the back and knees.

Not having to garden on your knees is a total plus. I am not able to kneel down for any period of time, let alone an extended period of time, so having the beds higher up makes it so much easier on my knees and back. I don’t have to bend and stoop to plant or harvest nearly as much or as long.

To see more on how to start a garden, read the post here. 

Raised garden beds can give you the ability to plant more vegetables in a smaller area. We have 15 raised garden beds currently, and each one has a designated veggie that is planted in it. So, we are able to plant a wider variety of veggies. For example, there is a pea area, green bean area, okra bed, kale bed and so forth. We can still plant our 50 tomato plants, but there isn’t any overrun into the carrots when we use the beds.

Raised garden beds can make companion planting easier. Companion planting is the art of putting veggies that like each other close together, and those that don’t far away. Having raised beds makes that easier to do in the little space we have. So, our basil can go intermingled with the bell peppers, and our potato bin is far enough away from our Swiss chard.

To see more about companion planting, read the post here. 

Raised garden beds can be a variety of sizes to suit your needs.

Ours range from 4×8 to 2×8 and even 1×16. We wanted different sizes for different plantings. The tomatoes go into the 2×8, the peas into the 1×16, and the 4×8 raised garden beds grow the green beans, the broccoli and more. They were made in less than 15 minutes each, and each cost around $10 to build.  They are not treated wood, as we didn’t want the chemicals to possibly leach into the soil or vegetables.

There can be drawbacks with raised garden beds. Mowing around them is a pain. This can be corrected by placing gravel between the beds, or pushing them close together.  Do you use raised beds? What’s your experience been like? Be sure to pin this for later!

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16 thoughts on “Raised Garden Beds-Are They Really Worth Building?”

  1. I love to garden. I have never had raised beds before though. I have traditional in ground and containers

  2. Mike the Gardener

    The soil where I live is heavy in clay, so it was easier to raise up, mix in compost, manure, and organic garden soil.

  3. Heather, raised bed gardens are the best! Unless you live in an area with drought. Then they drain faster than normal beds. A permaculture teacher, visiting the farm, told me to dig a trench to trap water around my raised beds so that I can encourage the natural soil moisture to stay where the plants need it, instead of draining away to lower ground.

  4. We live in a second floor apartment, so I have a little balcony garden with planters. We’re moving this summer, hopefully to a house not an apartment. Then next year, I can finally have a “real” garden. I like the idea of raised beds, because they can be mobile. We’re a military family and have to move again in just two years, so mobile is good.

  5. Great article. We just moved into a house with raised garden beds and I’m getting ready to plant! Can’t wait!

  6. Raised beds really appeal to me, too. I am doing some strawbale gardening this year, and thinking of the long term: I’m hoping that where the strawbales are sitting now, in a year or two we’ll build beds. All the straw I’m using this year (and maybe next) will help me build compost to help fill those beds. 🙂

  7. My mom has a raised bed in her garden. I don’t own my own land to have a garden unfortunately. If I did I’d grow lots of tomatoes because they are my son’s favorite.

  8. My parents have always used raised garden beds for their vegetables and herbs, and they have always produced an amazing crop each year! Unfortunately, my dogs would eat everything (or worse, pee on everything) so my husband and I use deck planters, which are perfect for herbs, lettuce, spinach, and small vegetables.

    BTW: I would love to live at your house having 75% fresh produce.

  9. Kelly Bisciotti

    Nice tips! As someone who has flooding issues in her garden every spring I have considered putting in raised beds. Now I just need to do it! 🙂

  10. We built raised bed boxes for our main garden this year and it has certainly paid for itself in time saved watering
    and weeding. Our boxes aren’t in the yard (the grassy part) so we don’t have grass trying to come up through
    them. We set the 3′ X 8′ boxes in the garden with 24″ paths between them in the long direction and 18″
    between them end to end, leveled them (with each other with the laser level) and lined them up with strings so
    I wouldn’t have to sit at the breakfast table and look out at crooked lines. (I’m not OCD or anything.) We dug out
    the soil from between the boxes to fill them (since it was the garden anyway) and started piling mulch between
    the boxes to keep down weeds and provide another source of compost down the road. We used straw that
    we purchased last fall for the annual hay ride for our family, grass clippings, leaves, nearly anything organic that
    falls to the ground, since here in the SW desert there is a dearth of organic material. Rocks don’t count.

    And on that note, I might suggest that you use something other than gravel between your beds because you
    might want to convert that area to something else later on. We have used wood chips from local tree trimming
    companies for years. It’s often free and lasts several years before it needs to be refreshed. Also, when we’ve
    needed some extra compost, we just dig up the path that’s been deteriorating the longest time after raking back
    the top layer, haul out the compost and pile on extra wood chips. We usually save our newspaper and some
    cardboard to put under mulch if there are grass or weeds that need to be subdued. Our gardens and paths
    have ‘evolved’ over the years and aren’t necessarily in exactly the same places that they started to be, so
    I’m glad to not be having to dig out gravel.

    We enjoy your site but wonder when you have the time.

    1. That’s a great point about not using rocks between the beds, thanks so much for sharing!! Our local power company has our name on a list so that when they have to trim the trees, we get called about the wood chips created from the branches. I plan on using that between our beds this year.

      Thanks for stopping by and I am glad you enjoy it! As for time, my goal for this blog is to share what I learn and learn from others…that makes it easy to make sure there is time 😉

  11. We use raised beds because the roots are able to go deeper, thus better plants. THis is really great info. THanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop. I hope we see you there again today.

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