Using Raised Beds in Gardening

A raised garden bed is a garden that has 4 sides boxed in with material (wood, concrete, logs, bricks etc) to hold your soil in one place raising it in the process. You can also have a raised garden bed with no sides at all. It would just be like a hill that is higher than your lawn or ground surface. One of the draw back to this would be when it rains, much of the soil might get washed away. So you would need to add more soil more often during the growing season.

Raised beds are the most popular type of gardening. They are great for vegetable , herb and flower gardens. Fruits, such as strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and raspberries, also do very well in a raised garden bed.

They can be your best friend. There are some advantages to having a raised bed garden. They warm much more quickly in spring, so you can work and plant earlier. They drain much better and most of the danger of water logged plants is avoided.

The soil in raised beds doesn’t get compacted with walking in between the rows, because they are constructed with easy access. It’s easy to organize the specific type of soil for specific plants that you plan to grow there, by adding compost or fertilizer and making it more acid or more sandy depending on the plant.

Since the soil is boxed in, when you add any compost or fertilizer, it goes to your soil and not on your walking areas. After you make the raised bed, it is easier to take care of than the regular garden with no boxed sides. If you have a bad back or bad knees or bad legs or if you need to use a wheelchair, then a raised garden might be a great idea. Nothing will stop you from sitting on a chair and playing with the plants.

Another plus is that there is very little maintenance to a raised garden. Each spring or fall, it’s a good idea to top dress with fresh compost and manure. And as with any garden, mulching the top of the soil will help retain moisture and keep weeds down. Moisture retention is important, because raised beds tend to drain faster than conventional beds.

So what should you do? Should you have a raised bed or a regular garden bed? There is no right or wrong answers to this question. It all comes down to you and what you like. All gardeners who have poor soil or health issues will find that these kind of beds are saviors. You will save a few aches and pains and also instead of battling the poor soil, when you add your soil above ground with the raised beds then you have absolute control over the soil texture and what goes into it. You can plant anything from herbs and vegetables to perennials and shrubs in a raised bed.

Maybe you haven’t thought of this, but you can use your old, scratched, water logged flooring panels to make raised beds. If your pieces are going to end up in the dump anyways and you won’t use them in the house, then they are very good to use in the garden. I used wood laminate because that is what was in the wood pile when we moved here..

Noooo, I’m not crazy, I’m serious. When we moved here to our home 10 years ago, the old owners had put in new flooring and the leftovers they just threw out on the wood pile. I discovered them by accident one day and got the bright Idea to use those pieces and make raised garden beds with them.

I was so super thrilled with this that I asked all my friends if they might have some pieces laying around in the garage or wherever. Not to throw them out, that I would use them in my garden. Boy the strange looks that I got. I was not happy to have everyone look at me like I had 2 heads. But I knew this was a good decision since I’m the one who was doing all kinds of research and reading on the subject of raised beds.

Ok maybe now you’re going to say…won’t the flooring get warped? I have some pieces that are a bit warped and some pieces that are not warped at all….yet. Mind you they won’t last forever, but if you can get 6+ years from flooring that already got water damaged in the house, then why not?

I don’t look at the warped aspect, I look at the fact that they are still pretty solid and it didn’t cost me anything. They will wear down over time, but that’s ok, I will be able to replace them at a later date. If there is a flood in the home, 90 percent of the people I know will rip out the old flooring and change it. So why not put it to use in the garden rather than the dump site? It’s only my opinion, you are free to do as you please, I’m only dishing out ideas here.

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