What are some options for building my raised beds and their pros and cons?
Answer: Many gardeners have turned to gardening in raised beds—simply defined as an area of soil raised higher than ground level—as opposed to using the open ground for planting. Whether you are short on space, lack good drainage and/or soil, or if you just like the aesthetic appeal, raised beds can be a great gardening alternative.
I had previously written a post on the advantages of growing plants in raised beds, which included some of the most common/popular benefits, such as improved soil—controlled soil type, warmer and looser soil, and better drainage; higher yields and lower maintenance—easier accessibility, less space needed, etc. You can find that article here.
However, as in everything in life, this method is not problem free. A few common cons or challenges to gardening in raised beds include:
• Cost: Raised beds can be a little pricey—purchasing building materials, quality soil, tools, etc.
• Hot summer soil: Although warmer soil is a great benefit to obtain a higher yield and better plant growth, during the often harsh, hot months of summer, this can actually harm plants. Soil that is too hot can lead to “cooked” plants—drastically lowering your chances of a high, thriving yield.
• More watering: In these warmer climates and/or overly hot summers, as a result of the scorched soil and the good drainage of your raised beds, your plants will need to be watered a lot more frequently and thoroughly—especially in areas prone to dry spells. Even in cooler climates, with the beds’ drainage you may have to increase the rate and/or amount of watering to ensure your plants obtain adequate moisture.
Whether you choose to grow in raised beds or in the ground is ultimately dependent on your personal needs/desires. With whichever method you choose, a lush, beautiful garden can be achieved with the right amount of care.
For some great options on choosing or constructing raised beds, check out this great informative video presented by Tricia of GrowOrganic.com.
Learn how to design a new bed and prepare the landscape with the Smart Gardening Guide Step by Step: Preparing a New Bed.
Raised beds are just one way to get the most out of your small-space. Check out Small-Plot, High-Yield Gardening for great small-space tips from experts Sal Gilbertie and Larry Sheehan.
The Horticulture Smart Gardening Techniques: Garden Projects is a great PDF download filled with step-by-step instructions for various garden projects.
Gardeners, young and old, will become inspired to explore, innovate and cultivate their gardens with simple projects found in Project Garden.
Improve the overall look and usability of your yard with the do-it-yourself landscape design techniques in Smart Gardening Series: Landscape Ideas.