Spring is finally here and this year I’m really excited about my garden because I’m going to do a raised bed garden for the first time. I have been planning this for a while and I have been growing some of my plants from seeds. They are all doing great and even outgrowing their containers while waiting for the warmer weather. From people who live in apartments with only patios to people with large back yards, raised beds are very popular! What are the benefits of raised garden beds? Raised bed gardens have many advantages!
10 Benefits of Raised Garden Beds
1. It’s the perfect way for people with limited space to enjoy a garden. Some people even put them on their patios and this works out great for plants that don’t need much root depth, like lettuce, broccoli, celery, or onions.
2. Raised beds save time because the plants are more closely spaced which makes it more difficult for weeds to find space, resulting in less weeding time!
3. When you make raised beds you get more yield because you put loose and fertile soil in the raised bed.
4. If you have efficiently spaced rows, this enables you to have more room for all your plants. You get more yield in a smaller space!
5. It is easier to water and harvest raised beds. It is especially great for people who have trouble bending over.
6. The raised bed helps keep some animals out. Small animals like rabbits don’t usually want to leave the ground and climb up to the garden. Also, you can deter moles and burrowing animals out by lining the bed with hardware cloth or chicken wire.
7. A great advantage to raised beds is that the soil gets excellent drainage.
8. In the Spring, the soil in raised beds warms up earlier allowing more growing time because you can plant sooner. You can put your young plants in earlier and not worry so much about the fluctuating weather . This is one of my favorite benefits of raised garden beds because up here in the Northeast, we have to wait much longer to start planting.
9. Raised beds are narrow and because of this the gardener doesn’t have to walk on the beds. This is great because it prevents the soil from being compacted.
10. Lastly, raised beds save money because amendments to the soil are not wasted in areas that are walked on.
Steps for Making a Raised Bed
1. Get the boards you need, make sure you don’t get treated wood. Many people use the standard 2 x 6 boards placed on top of each other making the height of the bed approximately 11”. If you are growing plants that need some root depth, the plants should have a total of about 20” of soil when you add in an additionally 12” below the bed. Beds are most often 3 to 5 feet across for good access.
2. Depending on what type of vegetables you are planting, you may want to dig the ground that will be under your raised bed (about 2 ft down) in order that the plants with deep roots can reach the nutrients below the level of the ground. This is also a good idea because you can see what your soil looks like and if there are rocks or roots that may be a problem.
3. You may want to line the bed with chicken wire to keep burrowing animals like moles out.
4. Put your raised bed together and add the soil and compost, filling the area within inches to the top, make sure it’s organic!
Some things to check before you start planting
*Before you start planting double check the root depth of your plants, especially if you are putting your raised bed on cement or gravel areas. If you need more soil you can always increase the height of the bed. Some deep rooters are; sweet potatoes, tomatoes and winter squash. Lettuce, celery and broccoli are shallow rooters.
*Don’t forget to check the height that the plants will grow when arranging the plants. You don’t want the tall plants to shade the shorter plants. Find a great chart for height of popular vegetables here.
Hint: Rounding, which involves adding more soil to make a small hill, gives you more space for the plant beds. The extra area you get by doing this can give you a lot more square feet and increase your yield.
What kind of garden are you planting? Have you found any other benefits of raised garden beds?