Is a Raised Bed Right For Your Growing Needs?

Is a Raised Bed Right For Your Growing Needs?

The popularity, or at the very least the visibility, of raised beds in gardening has become much more prevalent over the past several years. While raised beds are nothing new, the fact is that, as a forum for growing, the assortment of options has exploded. The range of options - from materials to shapes to, yes, colors - are aplenty.

But while the multitude of options for the 'form' are in no short supply, what about the 'function'? Is a raised bed right for your growing needs? Is it right for someone who has traditionally had a more modest setup in size or scale? Could it help take your already-successful gardening endeavors to new heights? The answers, as always, are always a matter of preference and what you're looking for. So to help, we've put together a list of considerations if you're considering a raised bed for your garden!

Soil Quality: One of the biggest advantages of a raised bed is control of the quality of soil. Yes, even the harshest of soil conditions in the ground near you can be amended or treated in various ways, but the ease of managing that environment within a raised beds is infinitely easier and, as you can imagine, more cost-effective given the cubic feet you're dealing with versus a broader footprint of land.

Drainage: As you can imagine, for a yard that is easily waterlogged or flooded, the appeal of a raised bed, especially a planter-like variety elevated off the ground, is significant. Ground-based raised beds may not offer quite the same amount of protection here, so it's not to say additional measures aren't necessary by default, but it may just be the difference.

Longer Growing Seasons: Taking into account soil and drainage, you're likely in for a longer growing season that can kick off sooner. With the extra drainage benefiting plants during the spring, and the soil temperature able to warm faster, it's an overall benefit to the duration of your growing season.

What You'll Grow: It likely goes without saying that a raised bed may not be for all plants, and what you're growing should be factored into your decision. Be sure to factor in the spacing needed between plants as you consider the size of the bed you may need, as well as other items like root depth to ensure the volume of the bed is adequate and not doing your plants a disservice.

Pest & Weed Control: The reality is that, while a raised bed offers a slight degree of protection on it's own from some critters out there, it's no quick-fix solution on this front, still requiring considerations such as fencing for larger animals like deer. But one benefit about a raised bed is the lack of competition your plants may find themselves among as the controlled space helps to keep weeds and other flora at bay while your plants reap the benefits. In areas with a number of invasive weeds, a raised bed might be of interest to mitigate those pesky, and unwanted, guests. This includes being able to partition your crops or plants across several separate raised beds if desired.

Maintenance: Like a greenhouse, but obviously smaller in stature, the reality is with any raised bed you're naturally dealing with a structure and an environment that requires some degree of maintenance. Whether it's the initial setup itself, tending to the soil more frequently to ensure it's of the expected quality, or setting up appropriate irrigation (given drainage), there may be some degree of maintenance. That said, most grower's who already invest time in the garden on weekends may find this consideration no more time-consuming than their usual routine.

Accessibility: As we're very aware, a sore back or knees can be the difference between an enjoyable weekend session in the garden and one where you're wincing constantly. Raised beds - quite literally - bring the garden to your level and reduce the amount of bending over or kneeling you might otherwise have done, making overall accessibility much less of a (literal) pain point!

Aesthetics & Surroundings: Maybe it's that old shed or part of the fence you wish you could block out. Maybe it's the area on the side of the house that's largely stone and gravel. Or it could be just trying to add a splash of color to an area. The fact is that while all of the above functions of a raised bed are key to your consideration, some of that 'form' question does come into play, whether it's allowing you to grow on a surface that wasn't feasible before or letting your personality shine through a little more for a more immersive growing experience!

Still not sure? Give one of our experts a call! Let's talk about what you're considering next season and what your options might be!

- Greenhouse Megastore Staff