10 Benefits of Raised Garden Beds

Today, if the weather cooperates, my kids and I will be starting our Square Foot Garden. We have a lot of work to do, as the boxes aren’t even on the ground yet. In fact, we still have to build a square foot garden box.

Though it’s tempting to just hoe out a patch of ground and plant some seeds, I’m convinced that the initial work we put into building raised garden beds will pay for itself in the long run. Why? Let me count the ways.

1. Weed Control. Because a raised garden bed is planted above existing soil, you can put down weed barriers between the ground and the soil you put in your garden box. If you’re diligent to use weed-free soil in your box, any weeds in your garden should be few and far between.

2. Pest Control. Our neighborhood has a little gopher problem. If I were to plant my seeds directly into the ground, the gophers could eat my garden right up. But with a raised bed, I can put chicken wire down beneath my garden, keeping the underground critters out. And if I have to, I can make a little chicken wire cage to place above my garden box, keeping out other animals.

3. Better Soil. When you plant a garden directly in the ground, you need to start with the soil that’s already there, and that soil might not be ideal for gardening. You can add things to it to make it better, but it may never be ideal. However, when working with a raised garden bed, you can use whatever soil will work best for your garden, right from the get-go.

4. Portability. What happens if you move? With an in-ground garden, you leave it behind, and start all over at your new place. But if you use a raised garden bed, particularly a small one like a square foot garden, you can bag up your soil and take your garden box with you. At least that’s what I did when I moved.

5. Higher Yields. Because of the better soil used in raised bed gardens, they tend to have higher fruit and vegetable yields than traditional row gardens.

6. Accessibility. One of the best things about raised bed (specifically square foot) gardens is their accessibility. Because each garden block is only 4′ x 4′, you can easily reach every single plant to water, inspect, and pick the produce.

7. Adaptability. For those who aren’t mobile enough to get down on the ground to reach their gardens, small raised beds are adaptable. Just put the garden on a tabletop. Since the garden is not dependent on soil beneath the box, you can put your garden box anywhere you like.

8. Frugality. Seeds are expensive. In a traditional row garden, you scatter the seeds, then thin the plants as they grow, wasting seeds. In a raised bed garden, you plant only the amount of seeds you need. Properly stored, the additional seeds will be good for another year or two, saving you money on next year’s garden.

9. Longer Growing Season. Gardening seasons depend on the temperature of the soil. The ground in a 4′ x 4′ box will warm up more quickly than the ground under the lawn. In addition, it’s relatively simple to make a cold frame for a raised garden bed to extend the gardening season further.

10. Aesthetically Pleasing. Raised garden beds look neat and tidy. In addition, if you’re a creative person, you can make some pretty cool looking gardens. Your garden could easily become the focal point of your yard.

Photo by Serene Journal.



Author

By , on Jul 9, 2013
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{16 Comments}

  1. Tina:

    When you have gardened using the boxes did you ever have an issue with your plants becoming root bound?

    • marci357:

      No. But my boxes are about 12 inches deep – and can spread out for several feet. Smallest box is 18 in wide, 6 ft long, and 2 ft deep – have berries in that one.

  2. travis in SC:

    Thanks for sharing.

    Do you mind sharing whether or not you stick to the standard formula for the soil with vermiculite, etc?

    What exactly do you use for your soil?

    Thanks again!

    • Lynnae:

      I think I’m going to try to stick to the square foot garden formula this year, but in the past I’ve used regular old potting soil with a lot of success.

      I didn’t get to the garden this week. Between the weather getting bad and a big homeschool project, the garden got shelved. Tomorrow I’ll work on it.

      • marci357:

        I just use the top soil that was dug up when the house addition was put on – as I still have a big black pile in my yard I am trying to get rid of…. and to that I add about 1/2 and 1/2, some free well rotted cow manure, of which Tillamook, aka Moo-town or Cheese-town, has an abundance for the asking :) Nothing fancy, but it grows great veggies!

        My raised boxes sit on the ground – just newspaper layers between the new soil and the old soil.

        Grandkids visiting this week and hoped to get a memory garden made by them before they move to Texas, but the weather is not cooperating – hopefully today or Sunday….

        And by the way – the Peas are UP :) lol

        • marci357:

          PS – on top of the newspaper layer, I first add last year’s compost pile… it needs more time to break down – and I figure that on the bottom of the pile it will eventually do it’s thing.

  3. Simple in France:

    I have yet to try this in France where I currently live, but had great luck with it in Southern California. (on old orchard land full of rocks and too hard to chip into with a spade!).

    I don’t have access to land right now, but love drooling over the gardens of people who do!

  4. marci357:

    PS – this is my 4th year – adding a 30 ft long by 3 ft wide bed this year along the fence line :) Each year I have added another raised bed to the conglomeration :)

  5. marci357:

    It’s a lot of fun and can get very creative.

    Add-on feature….grows with you year by year.
    Start out small, then add another link or section or area
    each year. Successes will make you want to expand over the years.

    Allows for rotation of crops, and for adding supplements or minerals or lime etc only to the beds that need it for that particular year.

    Anything that will hold soil and is deep enough can be used – such as kiddie pools or large tubs.

    The boxes can be made of any type of wood you have available – even logs, or with cement blocks or metal frames, etc. Very adaptable for the frugal minded :)

    The food is GREAT!!!! Great fun to grow, great fun to eat, great on the budget!

  6. Great idea! I have horrible soil and no great place to plant a garden, so I haven’t done it, but this might be the answer! Thanks!

  7. Shirley:

    I have had my square foot garden for several years now. We love it. Weeds can be a problem if you do not get good weed guard under your boxes. Good luck

  8. Kimberly:

    I’ll remember this post when I look out this afternoon and see it pouring rain! You better hurry and get those boxes done before noon if you want to stay dry!

    • Lynnae:

      I was hoping the icky weather would hold off, but we didn’t get the boxes built. We spent all morning working on the geography fair instead.

      BUT, I did locate the sprinklers, so I could plot out exactly where to put the garden. Baby steps, right? Fortunately we have a pretty slow weekend ahead, so I can catch up Saturday.

  9. Paul:

    Absolutely fantastic gardeners article. Can I just add:
    Buying Plant Seed – Plan Ahead
    When buying seeds it is easy to get carried away by thoughts of flower beds filled with row upon row of glorious colour. Do not forget that the plants need to be raised in frost free and light conditions until as late as May when the weather warms up sufficiently to plant them in the garden. Consider carefully how much space will be available, particularly in April when the tiny seedlings will have increased in size considerably

  10. AngelSong:

    This is something I definitely want to do. I cannot do traditional, in-ground gardening at all, but this sounds like it will fit my needs very well. Bookmarked this post! Thanks, Lynnae!

  11. Wow, your weather must be better than here! I hope you get to get your garden ready. I was just thinking about that this morning!

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