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Raised-bed gardening can reduce back strain because you won’t have to bend over as far to reach the plants. With easier access and less pain potential, you're better able to enjoy the labor involved in planting, tending, and harvesting vegetables. Build your raised beds so they're at least 12 inches tall. If the walls are slightly below waist level, you can sit on edges to work the soil and harvest your bounty without having to bend over at all.
The soil in raised beds typically warms earlier in spring than the surrounding earth. It also tends to dry faster, so you can get cool-season crops planted sooner, extending the growing season and your vegetable crop choices.
Test Garden Tip: To extend the gardening season for your raised beds, fashion hoops like these and then drape plastic over them. The makeshift cold frame will help you gain a few extra growing weeks in spring and autumn.
Spread mulch over the paths between your raised beds and your feet will stay clean, no matter how wet the weather. Because you won't walk on the beds, you'll be able to run out to grab a handful of fresh basil for dinner without worrying about compacting the soil.
Raised-bed gardening is the answer if you have sandy or clay soil. Instead of struggling with poor topsoil, all you need to do is fill your raised beds with high-quality topsoil and start gardening. Nutrient-rich soil means fewer struggles for plants and less frustration for the gardener. To keep the soil healthy, continue to feed it with compost and other organic matter.
- Raised-bed gardening is the answer if you have sandy or clay soil. Instead of struggling with poor topsoil, all you need to do is fill your raised beds with high-quality topsoil and start gardening. Nutrient-rich soil means fewer struggles for plants and less frustration for the gardener. To keep the soil healthy, continue to feed it with compost and other organic matter.
Once your raised beds are filled with fresh soil, cover the surface with an inch or two of mulch. This reduces weed competition and preserves soil moisture.
Lawn grasses, which have spreading root systems, often infiltrate a standard vegetable garden and become a serious weed. But when you practice raised-bed gardening, nearby turf won't be able to spread into your vegetable crops.
Even with raised-bed gardening, critters such as rabbits or moles can make a mess of your vegetables. One way to thwart them is with tall raised beds. Design raised beds that are at least 4 feet tall to discourage these invaders.
Raised beds provide a healthier environment for beneficial microorganisms and earthworms because there's no foot traffic to compact the soil. And you avoid the time and expense of tilling.
Build your raised beds so you can easily reach the middle from both sides. Most raised beds are 4 feet across because the average person can easily reach about 2 feet.
In your raised-bed gardening plans, leave enough space between the beds to easily maneuver a wheelbarrow for adding soil, harvesting, spreading mulch, or other activities. Similarly, if you have grass paths between your raised beds, make sure there's enough space to comfortably run your lawn mower.
When selecting raised-bed gardening materials, choose rot-resistant lumber such as cedar or redwood. Or look for other materials, such as brick, stone, or concrete, to create attractive raised beds you won't need to rebuild. Get the wood look with composite materials.
Raised-bed gardening designs can be attractive landscape features. Dress them up with details that add style to their utilitarian form. For example, give corner posts a cap or paint the wood frames to match your house.
Test Garden Tip: A wide variety of premade post caps is available at your local hardware store or home improvement center. Post caps come in a variety of materials including wood, copper, and glass. Some even have solar lights incorporated.
Raised beds are often set up as squares or rectangles that run parallel to one another. But you can add some fun to your raised-bed gardening landscape by arranging the raised garden beds in different geometric shapes or patterns. For example, mimic the lines of an architectural feature on your home. Whatever shape you design, remember to allow yourself room to reach into the raised beds and to move between them.
Include trellises, obelisks, or tuteurs in your raised-bed gardening plans. Buy or build one or two to grow vining crops such as peas, beans, cucumbers, and even tomatoes. The extra height brings visual drama to your plantings, especially if most of what you grow is relatively short.