Have you ever thought about planting a raised garden bed in your backyard?
Have you always heard about raised garden beds but had no idea what they really were or what they could offer in terms of better gardening experiences?
Are you looking for a way to improve your gardening situation and get tons of great benefits from it, too?
If you’re considering putting together a raised garden bed in your backyard, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, you’ll learn a crash course in what these raised beds really are and how they differ from traditional gardening. From there, you’ll be introduced to thirteen of the most common raised garden beds benefits you can expect from embarking on this fun endeavor.
Gardening means different things to different people, and when you’re planning to start a gardening project, you may have some set goals in mind that you hope to accomplish. With the help of raised beds, you’ll be able to achieve everything you’ve planned for your garden and so much more.
So if you’re still wondering about the advantage of raised garden beds, let’s get started!
What is a Raised Garden Bed?
Generally speaking, a raised garden bed is exactly what it sounds like: a bed that is used for growing plants and is raised up off the ground by some means. However, there are many different variations among the types of raised beds available, and you might want to choose one style over another for best results in your own yard.
Most raised garden beds are made of wood with an insert made of mesh or sometimes even plastic sheeting, depending on the drainage needs of your plants. However, garden beds can also be made of wood with aluminum-reinforced corners, recycled plastic, composite wood, and steel, among other materials. Some people have even had success repurposing old tractor tires to create country-style raised garden beds that work fairly well, too.
Generally, raised beds sit a little bit off the ground, but you can also choose elevated raised beds for even easier access to your plants. Even if you have a concrete area you want to turn into a raised garden, you can install beds that are deep enough to hold plenty of soil and water regardless of what’s underneath them. As you can see, there are enough options to help you set up the perfect raised garden no matter what kind of space you have to work with.
1. Keep Weeds Away
Raised garden beds are able to keep weeds away from your plants much more easily than traditional gardening methods. When your plants sit directly in the yard, they’re much more prone to growing weeds that may spread from nearby walkways as well as from any neighboring wild growth that might be in the area.
Even if you live in a community, your neighbors may have a weed problem that could spread to your yard as well. It’s hard to avoid weeds in your garden regardless of where you’re located, and this could be something you’ve struggled with time and time again in the past.
In fact, it’s one reason that many potential gardeners give for wanting to give up on the hobby altogether!
However, when you have a raised garden bed, you don’t have to worry about the presence of weeds nearly as much. Although it’s impossible to completely remove weeds from an outdoor garden, you won’t see them occurring too often in a raised bed.
When you do, they’ll be much more noticeable and easy to remove as well, and there will be much less of a risk of larger root systems being left behind upon their removal.
2. Better Drainage
Your plants are able to drain much more easily when you use a raised garden bed. When plants are planted in the ground, they are at the mercy of whatever type of soil you have in your backyard. Even if you add nutrients to the soil, this usually doesn’t do much in terms of improving the drainage.
However, when you use a raised garden bed, you can plant your flowers and vegetables in the perfect type of soil to suit their drainage needs.
If you’re trying to grow cactus plants, for example, you may find that they need a much different variety of soil than vegetables might. You can have two separate garden beds and take care of both of these needs easily at the same time.
Also, since your plants are grown in a raised environment, the water can drain from beneath them into the ground below. If you are positioning your plants in your backyard, you don’t really have to worry about it very much after that.
However, if you’re setting them up on a concrete slab, you’ll need to think about how best to drain off the excess water that may seep out onto the concrete. Some people add small irrigation ditches in their concrete slabs for this purpose, while others position the beds close enough to the edge of the concrete to allow for maximum drainage.
3. Better Quality Soil
You can generally start a raised garden bed with much better quality soil than you’d find in your ground out in the yard. The dirt in your backyard may be fine for growing grass and wildflowers, but it’s probably not balanced for vegetable and flower growth.
Digging up your yard means you’re going to be stuck with whatever you can get in terms of soil quality. Although you’ll be able to remove rocks and weeds yourself and you may be able to treat your soil to improve its pH and add nutrients, you still won’t have the benefit of a full composition of high-quality soil when you choose this option.
On the other hand, when you use a raised garden bed, you can fill it with the type of soil you think is best for your plants’ needs. You’ll be able to choose the right mix and add any other ingredients you think they need for the perfect growing conditions.
And if you’re growing vegetables, the end result will be much healthier and more flavorful, too!
4. Easier Pest Care
It’s much easier to maintain pest control in a raised garden bed than it is to do so in the whole yard. Plants that are grown in the backyard without the benefit of raised garden beds are susceptible to anything that might be crawling around on the ground.
Pests that live in the dirt can reach your plants much more easily in this situation too, and in no time, you may end up with a major pest issue that you never even considered while you were preparing for your yard garden.
In a raised bed, however, you’ll be able to maintain your pest control much more easily. You can tend to your plants as needed and check them regularly for the presence of insects and other types of pests.
And you won’t likely find nearly as many, either; if you use good-quality soil, the pests will be much less likely to find their way to your plants, especially if you also use a natural or organic pesticide.
Spraying your raised garden beds with pesticides is easier than doing so in a traditional garden, too. It’s also easier to contain the pesticides to the garden itself with a raised bed, rather than risking them seeping into your soil or reaching other parts of your yard.
5. Better Aeration
Although you might not have thought of it before, your plants need good aeration to thrive, too. Certain plants will feel completely choked in no time if they don’t have a good amount of aeration.
This goes hand-in-hand with soil quality and drainage as well as weed control, but it’s just another added bonus of using a raised garden bed. In a raised garden bed, your plants can be spaced out evenly for maximum aeration, and you never have to worry about other plants or weeds getting in the way.
Planting in the ground doesn’t provide the same benefit, and it sometimes may cause your plants to become choked and to die out very quickly. Better aeration means more delicate plants like flowers and some herbs will be much happier, and you’ll see a greater return on your crop as well.
6. Easier Temperature Control
You can keep up with the temperature of your plants in garden beds a bit more easily than you can when growing them directly in your backyard.
Digging up your backyard and planting your vegetables and flowers directly in the ground means you’re at the mercy of the ground temperature all year long. If there’s an early frost or spring gets started later in any given year, you’ll just have to work around it or risk losing the plants you’ve been growing.
However, since raised garden beds keep the soil up off the ground, the plants will stay warmer all year long than they would otherwise. This means you’ll be able to plant earlier and harvest later than you would with traditional gardening.
It’s also much easier to install hooks for tarps and other coverings that can be used to keep frost from your plants in a raised bed, as well.
7. Easier to Reach
If you have trouble bending over, sitting on your knees for a long time, or have any other mobility challenges, a raised garden bed can make it much easier for you to tend to your plants every day. These beds are already higher than the ground itself, so they can be reached by anyone who is capable of bending some or kneeling.
However, if you have a lot of mobility issues and still want to garden, an elevated raised garden bed can help you do just that. With an elevated garden bed, you can reach your plants whether you are able to bend or kneel at all or not.
You can even reach them from a wheelchair in many situations, as well as from a chair positioned next to the garden bed. For anyone looking to get involved with a garden despite some physical limitations, this is a great opportunity.
And for anyone who doesn’t have a mobility issue but would still like an easier gardening experience, these elevated garden beds are widely available and can be easily constructed, too.
8. Time to Move
Since you’re growing your plants in a raised bed instead of in the backyard, you can pick up and move with them a lot more easily without having to leave anything behind.
Of course, you’ll still have to tear them down to some degree unless you have farm equipment you can use to transport them from one place to another, but even so, if you’re careful about it, you’ll be able to take your plants and your boxes both with you when you move to a new home.
When gardening with a traditional backyard garden, you simply don’t have the luxury of being able to do this.
There’s another great reason why the ability to move your plant boxes around can be a benefit too: temperature and shade. If your boxes are mobile enough that you and another person can pick them up and move them a few times throughout the year, you’ll be better able to position them around your yard in areas where they can get the perfect amount of sunlight every day, regardless of the time of year.
This may seem like a hassle if you have more than a couple garden beds, but if you just have a few it can help you increase the life and longevity of your plants by quite a lot.
9. Neat and Tidy
It’s easier to keep your plants looking tidy when you grow them in raised garden boxes. Although the tidiness of your backyard may not be at the top of your priority list, it’s still probably on there somewhere and it bears mentioning.
Growing your plants in a traditional backyard garden can lead to dirt getting tracked everywhere through them when you work on them every day or so. It can also mean that dirt will get tracked back into your house when you’re finished working on your garden.
However, when your plants are grown in raised garden beds, you won’t be dealing with nearly as much dirt on a regular gardening basis as you would be otherwise. There’s less mess for you to worry about, and if any dirt gets knocked out of the beds, it will just blend into your backyard and won’t be a problem.
Keep your plants separated and free from unsightly growths and weeds can also be much easier when they’re a little bit closer to your line of sight than they would be in a traditional garden, too.
10. Dog-Free Zone
If you have trouble with your dog digging up your plants, try making slightly higher raised beds than you otherwise would. This is another great place where elevated garden beds for people with mobility challenges may be useful, but you don’t necessarily have to go that high, depending on the size of your dog.
If you have a small or medium dog, then a slightly raised bed is sure to do the trick to keep your furry friend out of your plants.
However, if the problem is your neighbor’s dog or maybe a different kind of wild animal that’s digging in your garden, you might want to think about sticking to the taller elevated garden beds instead. This way, mammals that might want to get into your plants will be much less inclined to go to the trouble to reach them.
You may still have to worry about deer eating your vegetables if you live in a very rural place, and you might have to be concerned about rodents depending on what you’re growing. However, a taller raised bed can go a long way toward ensuring that your plants are protected from many intruders.
As an added bonus, your dog won’t be able to relieve himself on the vegetables you plan to eat later on, either!
11. Less Contamination
If you have a problem with soil contamination in your area, a raised garden bed is crucial, especially when you’re growing vegetables.
Unfortunately, in many areas across the country and around the world, the soil in the backyards of many communities is full of contaminants that come from nearby factories, mining locations, and even from the chemicals used in cleaning homes and washing cars around the neighborhood.
In many places, this is such a bad problem that the groundwater in these areas becomes polluted as well, which leads to even more potential trouble with the plants you want to grow.
This is especially bad if you want to grow vegetables you’ll be eating later one. If your soil and groundwater are contaminated, then it stands to reason that your plants will become contaminated, too.
Sometimes, this isn’t significant enough to cause a lot of harm when you eat your vegetables, but in some instances, it can be.
With raised garden beds, you can choose the soil you’ll be using, which means you don’t have to worry about contaminants getting into your vegetables. The only things that will go into your plants are the growing ingredients you choose to use on them.
This means that the better the choices you make for your growing medium, the better off you and your plants both will be!
12. Easier Watering
Watering your whole garden can be a challenge on a good day, but with a raised bed it doesn’t have to be. If you have a larger garden, you may have trouble getting it evenly watered with the use of your garden hose or even with sprinklers.
And uneven gardening means you’re wasting money and water both on places that might not need it, all while other places that need more attention are losing out. This is a common problem in bigger gardens, but it may even happen in smaller ones too, depending on your growing tendencies.
With a raised garden bed, you don’t have to worry about nearly as many watering issues.
Although you’ll still need to pay attention to watering correctly, when you can see your plants and their soil much more easily in a raised garden bed, you’ll be able to tell which ones are getting the water they need and which ones may need a little bit more attention.
If you’re using sprinklers, you can still set them up to work with your raised bed, although this will take a little extra DIY work in the long run. You might also choose to use time-release waterers for your plants in garden beds, but take care not to under or over water them if you do.
13. Fun DIY Project
It can be exciting to work on building your raised garden beds and putting them together yourself or with friends and family members. Gardening itself is a nice hobby that can become a way of life for some people, but if you’re looking for even more of a creative outlet, building your own raised garden beds and setting up your backyard to accommodate them can be a truly exciting endeavor.
Whether you’re handy with tools or not, there are a lot of methods of building raised beds out there that may work for you, even if you don’t have a lot of experience or skill level with these types of projects. And if you need a little extra help, it can also be fun to talk to your friends or family about pitching in, too.
Just remember that it is a little bit costly to put together these garden beds on your own, so make sure you set aside plenty of money in your budget to totally cover your project. It can also take a while to complete the task, and you may need more than a single free weekend to do it.
Once again, this mostly depends on the type of garden bed you choose to put together. For example, the repurposed tractor tire variety can be accomplished much more quickly than a steel or wooden box can be.
Growing your raised garden bed can give you tons of incredible benefits, some of which you may not ever have thought possible before. Whether you plan to grow herbs, flowers or vegetables in your garden beds, going this route instead of sticking to traditional backyard gardening can make a huge difference in the gardening experience you have.
Of course, there are some downsides to raised garden beds, too. As with anything, there are a few cons to go along with the pros. We’ve listed three of the most common negative aspects of raised bed gardening below:
- It’s more expensive than traditional gardening. With traditional gardening, you can buy tools and seeds and just go dig up the yard and plant everything. You may have to factor in the cost of soil treatments, depending on where you live, but that’s about it. With raised bed gardening, you’ll need to buy tools and seeds as well as soil and the materials to make the box, too.
You can purchase premade raised garden bed boxes, but they tend to cost more than it would potentially cost to set this up on your own.
- You may need a lot of help building your beds. If you aren’t buying premade raised garden beds, then you probably won’t be able to complete the building project on your own. This is at least a two-person job, but depending on the scope of your project, you may need even more help than that. If you don’t know a lot of people where you live or can’t seem to coordinate enough help, then raised gardening may not be right for you.
- It may take a lot of planning, trial and error to get it right. With a traditional garden, you can usually just plant everything and keep it watered to see how it goes. You may make changes here and there throughout the process, but for the most part, it’s pretty straightforward. With raised gardening, you’ll have to plan out the amount of space in your yard devoted to the beds first. Then you’ll need to section off each bed to give every plant enough room to grow.
- If you make mistakes with this planning at first, you may have to sacrifice some of your plants to give the others room to grow freely. It can be tough learning how much space to devote to each individual plant when gardening in raised beds.
If you’re willing to work around the negative aspects of raised gardening, however, you can get so much more return from this great project than you may even realize. In no time, you’ll have beautiful flowers, fresh herbs, or tasty vegetables just waiting for you to enjoy them as part of your daily life.