Raised beds are a great opportunity to increase the accessibility of your garden space. They are easier to maintain, reduce bending, and provide more predictable conditions for plant growth. Additionally there are many options for building materials and design to match any aesthetic or budget. Also their manageable size keeps gardening enjoyable at any age or skill level.
By lifting a garden higher off the ground you are reducing the amount of overall work required for your garden. Higher beds have reduced weeds because they are not pulling from the hundred year seed bank that exists in your soil. Reduced weeds mean less pulling, digging, hoeing, and no tilling is necessary. Depending on the height of your raised bed you also can reduce, or eliminate bending all together. Beds that are 12-24 inches high are also perfect for children to be able to reach-in and help out. Furthermore, beds can be designed to have seats, benches, or even be wheelchair accessible. By lifting beds higher from the ground, you can make gardening easier, while still having plenty to do inside the beds with planting, trellising, and harvesting.
I’ve Got the Power!
Raised beds also increase the level of control you have over a growing space. You get to choose the soil you are growing in. By doing so you ensure it is weed free, nutrient dense, friable, and overall great quality like Tilth Soil’s Organic Raised Bed Mix Grow. Next, you have moisture control. Growing in the ground you may be battling water-logged clay or dried out sand. With a raised bed you can worry less about flooding from a heavy rain, your soil will warm faster for earlier spring planting, and you can easily reduce compaction from the elements with the twist of a digging fork.
Every Expert was once a Beginner!
Compact planting containers like raised beds also keep gardening at a manageable size. You have the opportunity to start out small and expand as you feel more proficient. Smaller scale growing keeps gardening fun and less overwhelming. It also presents compact learning opportunities. Square foot gardening is ripe with potential math lessons, and you can conduct science experiments between two different beds. The success is greater in smaller spaces where you can focus on a few plants, grow them well, and add more when you’re ready.
If You Build It They Will Come!
Gardens come in all shapes and sizes, and raised beds allow more flexibility to be the size and shape you want. Building materials range from untreated wood (sprayed with a natural preservative like EcoWood), cedar, metal (Vego), stone, natural logs,plastic, and bricks. The material you choose can be repurposed (check to make sure it is safe to consume edible foods from it), can be new, can be foraged, or can be bought. It is best to avoid tires, railroad ties, or cinder blocks as these contain harmful materials, even to the surrounding soil. Additionally you can design your beds and placement in whatever format works best for you. Some raised beds are in a keyhole shape for easy access to all sides, they can be round, include a bench, or even hang from supports. Choose materials that will last longer than a few years so you can limit repairs and keep your garden growing.
Spring is a great time to start designing, building, and filling your raised bed while the weather works to make up its mind. Keep in mind the average last frost date for your area before transplanting sensitive crops, and don’t forget to cover crop your raised bed in the fall so it is ready to go for the next growing season (Tilth Soil’s Garden to Bed Kit.).