Raise Beds Or Not To Raise Beds?
June 5, 2012Return to the Members' Area main page
The decision whether to have raised beds in your garden may seem obvious, as they're very popular right now. But it really should depend on your situation and soil type, because there are some instances where you should not use them.
So let's look at the pros and cons of the matter.
Better drainage -- in areas with poor drainage such as wetlands and areas with heavy clay soil, raised beds are the best choice.
Solves soil problems such as dead or contaminated soil -- just set up a raised bed and fill it with clean compost and you're ready to plant
High raised beds (when filled with sufficient mass of soil) can be warmer simply because heat rises. This is the place to put your plants which are just a bit out of their planting zones. Dark-colored building materials work even better.
Raised beds (when constructed properly, of sturdy materials) offer easier access to your garden and plants, and can be very useful for gardeners who can't get up and down easily.
Raised beds dry out quickly, and may not be the best choice in sandy soil or severe drought
Narrow raised beds can freeze in severe cold, killing your plants.
In both these situations, sunken beds may be the best choice for your garden. In severely cold areas, combine sunken beds with other frost protection methods https://www.edible-landscape-design.com/protecting-plants-from-frost.html and make certain to get the base of your bed below the frost line.
Raised beds can be beautiful or they can be hideous. Like every other gardening method, it's all in the materials you choose, the care you take in constructing them, the design you use, and how you plant them.
Try to get away from the "cheap boxes in a row with weeds" look at all costs -- it's better to have one good-looking raised bed that you can handle than four shabby ones.
Raised beds do not have to be square, or even rectangular! I've seen great-looking triangular, round, and hexagonal raised beds. Experiment with different materials such as stone, brick, sealed wood, metal ... whatever you have on hand.
Need help constructing your raised beds? You can get reviews of local contractors and designers through Angie's List -- learn more about Angie's List here.
You can find local professionals who specialize in edible landscaping in my Edible Landscape Business Showcase.
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