The Growing Popularity of Raised Beds
Raised beds have been experiencing an upsurge in popularity recently. A longstanding favorite among organic farmers and urban gardeners, raised beds have been making the talkshow rounds and have by now permeated pretty much every corner of the gardening world. A raised bed is simply a garden plot that sits higher than the surrounding ground level. It’s a simple concept, but the possibilities of size, shape, and materials are virtually limitless. In this article, we will discuss some of the benefits of raised bed gardening and how you can go about setting up the perfect bed for your needs.
There are a myriad of advantages to using raised beds: A primary advance is to provide relief to aching backs. With a bed raised to the right height, you can say goodbye to bending and kneeling when planting, weeding, and harvesting. The assurance of quality soil is another great benefit provided by raised beds. When you control the medium used to fill your beds, you know precisely what your plants are eating, and what you, in turn, are eating.
Additionally, raised beds can be especially useful if ground contamination prevents the use of traditional in-ground beds. We most often think of artificial pollutants, but ground contamination can have natural origins as well. Raised beds were once my only option when a neighbor’s black walnut grove proved too toxic for my in-ground vegetable garden. The ability to plant earlier in the spring due to faster soil warming, and the benefits of improved drainage are also important.
Setting up your own bed is easily achievable for just about anyone. As a raised bed is a rather simple concept, the design can be executed in many ways. The bare bones traditional design is made by simply placing four posts in the corners of a rectangular garden plot and boarding up the sides the desired height. Some gardeners always line the bottom with landscape fabric, some consider it a waste. It will most likely cut down on the weeds, but landscape fabric will limit your bed’s ability to exchange nutrients with the rest of the garden. Some compromise by lining the bottom of their beds with cardboard which keeps weeds from popping up in newly established plots and then eventually decomposes. If ground contamination is an issue, you will absolutely want to add a bottom to your raised beds.
This basic design can be modified in a number of different ways. Using the sides of buildings and fences can be very helpful. I once turned a quarter of my backyard into a gargantuan raised bed by simply adding plywood and posts to wall off a corner formed by the house and a wooden fence. For a creative touch, you might experiment with scrap materials for borders. Creating raised beds out of reclaimed materials is always guaranteed to yield a unique result. I regularly construct raised beds out of old boards and doors salvaged from sheds and barns. I have seen troughs, bathtubs, and tires used to create truly artistic beds. Long-lasting beds can be created out of stone, bricks, or mounded earth. Keep in mind that certain materials, such as lead paint, wolmanized lumber, and some galvanized metals can leach into your soil and potentially your food supply.
If scrapping and construction aren’t your
cup of tea, raised bed kits might be more your style. You can find these kits online, in garden centers, and even in many grocery stores. Raised bed kits, usually made of wood or plastic, come in many different sizes and are very simple to assemble. Perhaps assembling kits is a bit much, and you prefer that professional look. That’s where we come in! At The Plant Professionals, we love working with our customers to create the perfect raised bed (or beds) to suit their gardening needs. From simple wooden structures to elaborate stone and brick custom creations, we can make your raised bed dreams come true.