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.
Whether you’re a first-time gardener or an experienced green thumb, there’s no doubt that raised garden beds are a gardener’s best friend.
By elevating your plants and flowers off the ground, you not only create extra space to grow your garden, but also make it easier on your back by reducing the amount of bending and stooping you have to do. And that’s just the beginning!
Check out these top ways to take advantage of your raised garden bed…
Reduce Weeding Chores
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.
Protect Our Knees and Backs
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 Consolidate Space
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.
Raised garden beds can be in 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 with wood, as we didn’t want the chemicals to possibly leach into the soil or vegetables.
Create a No-Till Garden
One of the things I love most about growing in a raised bed is that it eliminates the need to till the garden. That makes for a really no-work kind of plot!
You don’t have to till to add fertilizers and amendments. Instead, you’ll add materials from the top. From mulch to compost, manure to other soil conditioners, this is a great way to amend the soil without damaging it.
Raised beds also make it possible for you to grow a new garden where it might not be possible otherwise.
For example, if you want to grow a garden in an area where you can’t till because there are underground utility lines, lots of rocks, or the area is just tight to begin with, a raised garden bed is the perfect solution.
A well-tended garden can be a thing of beauty, but it can be difficult to create and maintain a neatly manicured look. One way to improve the aesthetics of your garden is to use raised beds.
They can be constructed out of a variety of materials, including wood, stone, and metal. Raised beds have several advantages over traditional gardening methods.
Raised beds can be customized to fit any space, no matter how small. Whether you’re looking to add a touch of elegance to your yard or just want to make it look more organized, using raised beds is a great way to improve the overall look of your space.
Get Rid of the Lawn
Another use for raised beds? To get rid of your lawn! You don’t have to worry about mowing or fertilizing or aerating or any of that nonsense.
I use raised garden beds on any section of the lawn I’ve decided I am sick of mowing. My entire front lawn is covered in raised beds, both for growing vegetables and herbs and flowers. You name it, and you can use a raised bed for it – including getting rid of your lawn.
Cold Weather Gardening
It’s no secret that raised garden beds tend to heat up a lot faster than the surrounding area in the spring. You don’t have to wait to plant – you can plant much sooner than if you had to wait for the rest of the garden to warm up.
However, another way you can use raised garden beds is to extend your growing season a bit longer into the winter months, too.
Simply use a cloche, row tunnel, or another form of covering (even a piece of plastic, pinned down at the side) to cover your sensitive plants, and protect them from the frost.
The sides of the raised bed make it easier to do this than if you were growing crops in the garden over the winter – you can take the sides of your covering to the ends of your raised beds. It’s as easy as that!
Keep Out Critters and Diseases
Pests, including both insect and mammalian ones, can be a major problem for gardeners, causing significant damage to plants and yielding poor harvests. So, too, can diseases.
Raised beds can help to keep pests and diseases out of the garden by creating a physical barrier between the soil and the surrounding area. This prevents pests from entering the bed and coming into contact with the plants.
In addition, raised beds provide better drainage than flat beds, which helps to keep the roots dry and reduces the risk of fungal diseases.
Finally, raised beds allow gardeners to more easily control the environment within the bed, making it easier to regulate moisture levels and apply pest control measures.
Testing and Improving Garden Drainage
One way to test and improve soil drainage is to build raised beds.
A good way to test drainage is to pour a cup of water into the bed. If the water drains away quickly, then the soil is well-draining.
If the water pools on the surface or drains very slowly, then the soil may need to be amended with sand or perlite.
By keeping plants off of the ground, they are less likely to be damaged by excessive moisture or fungal diseases. As a result, raised beds can be an ideal solution for gardeners who are looking to improve both the drainage and health of their soil.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to get rid of crabgrass in your garden. Crabgrass is an aggressive plant that can quickly take over your garden beds, crowding out other plants and causing problems with drainage.
Additionally, crabgrass is difficult to pull up by hand, and it can be tough to control with chemicals.
One effective way to kill crabgrass is to create raised beds in your garden. Raised beds help to improve drainage and prevent weeds from taking root.
They also make it easier to control the soil quality and pH levels, which can help to prevent crabgrass from growing in the first place.
If you already have crabgrass in your garden, you can use a raised bed to isolate the problem area and prevent the weed from spreading.
With a little effort, you can keep your garden free of crabgrass and enjoy a beautiful, healthy lawn.
Boost to Property Value
Planning on selling your house soon? Build a raised bed.
Raised beds are a great way to add curb appeal to your property and can temporarily boost your property values.
They are easy to construct and can be built from a variety of materials, such as wood, stone, or metal. You can also choose to build raised beds that are free-standing or that attach to your home.
Raised beds are a great way to add color and life to your yard, even if you don’t plant anything in them right away. If you’re looking for a way to improve your home’s curb appeal, consider constructing a raised bed.
To Avoid Contaminated Soil
Any gardener knows that soil is essential for healthy plants. It provides nutrients and support for roots, helps regulate moisture levels, and prevents weed growth. However, soil can also be contaminated with harmful chemicals, toxins, and pathogens.
If these contaminants are present in your garden, it can jeopardize the health of your plants – and even your own health if you eat fruits or vegetables that have been grown in contaminated soil. One way to avoid this problem is to grow plants in raised beds.
Raised beds can be filled with fresh, uncontaminated soil, providing a safe environment for your plants to grow.
To Learn How to Garden
Raised beds can also be a great way to learn how to garden. By starting with a small bed, you can gain valuable experience without having to invest a lot of time or money.
And if you make a mistake, it’s easy to start over again. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, raised beds can be a great way to grow healthy plants and beautiful flowers.
To Recycle Old Tires
Yes, you can even use raised beds to recycle!
Most people are familiar with the standard rectangular raised bed, but did you know that you can also make raised beds out of old tires? This is a great way to upcycle something that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Plus, it can provide some extra benefits for your plants. For example, the black rubber of tire beds absorbs heat, which can help to jumpstart the growing season. They can also provide better drainage than other types of raised beds.
If you’re looking for a unique and eco-friendly way to get rid of old tires, building raised beds is a great option.
Of course, you can build your raised beds to help you get rid of all kinds of other materials, too, like old metal flashing, bricks, or even cedar logs.
One of my favorite aspects of growing plants in a raised garden bed is that you can use the best possible soil mix for your plants. You can customize the soil in your bed to make it fit the exact type of plant you want to grow.
For example, you might use raised beds to grow azaleas. Azaleas love acid soil, but if your soil is naturally alkaline, or even neutral, you may have trouble getting it to the levels you need for these plants. Not with raised beds!
Just fill your beds with a mixture of multipurpose compost and an acidic soil amendment. It’s easy!
Adding Color to the Lawn
Raised garden beds are a great way to add color and visual appeal to the lawn. By planting flowers, shrubs, and other plants in raised garden beds, you can create a beautiful and unique landscape that will make your neighbors jealous.
Of course, growing plants of many different colors is one way to add color to the lawn – but you can even paint your raised beds to add another rainbow!
With a little planning and elbow grease, you can transform your lawn into a stunning oasis.
To Grow Off the Ground
Elevated gardening is a great way to enjoy all the benefits of gardening without having to deal with the backache that comes from bending over.
And raised garden beds are the perfect solution for those looking to create an elevated garden.
Raised garden beds can be built using a variety of materials, but they all share one key feature: they are raised off the ground, making them easier to access for those with limited mobility. But you can take things one step further by building raised beds on legs.
These waist – or even chest- high raised beds add another element of visual appeal (and functionality) to your garden space.
Is There Any Reason NOT to Use Raised Garden Beds?
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.
Other than that, they’re really aren’t any reasons to not use raised garden beds – so give them a try. They’re incredibly versatile and easy to use, and even the drawbacks can easily be addressed with a bit of careful planning.
All of these tips are great, but don’t stop there. Get creative and see what other ways you can use raised garden beds in your landscaping.
With a little effort, you can turn your garden into a beautiful oasis that will be the envy of your neighborhood.
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.