The Benefits of Raised Vegetable Gardens

kale lettuce and greens in raised bed vegetable garden

Raised vegetable garden beds make growing less work. Learn the benefits of raised-bed gardening, how to build a raised bed, and get some design tips.

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Benefits: Save Your Back

obleisk tomato support

Building raised vegetable garden beds can reduce back strain, since you won't have to bend over so far to reach your plants. With easier access and less potential pain, you're better able to enjoy the labor involved in planting, tending, and harvesting your vegetables.

Test Garden Tip: Build your raised beds so they're at least 12 inches tall. If the walls are slightly below waist level, you can sit on the edges to work the soil and harvest your bounty without having to bend over.

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Benefits: Grow Longer

Raised Bed

The soil in raised vegetable beds typically warms earlier in the 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 crop choices.

Test Garden Tip: Choose cold-tolerant vegetables in early spring or late fall for successful garden beds. To extend the gardening season, fashion hoops like the ones pictured, then drape plastic over them. The makeshift cold frame will bring you a few extra growing weeks in spring and autumn. Utilize succession planting to get more out of your raised beds.

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Benefits: Keep Clean

Raised Bed

Spread mulch over the paths between your raised vegetable garden beds, and your feet will stay clean—no matter how wet the weather. Because you won't be walking on wet garden beds, you'll be able to run out to grab a handful of fresh basil for dinner without worrying about compacting the soil.

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Benefits: Overcome Bad Soil

watering vegetables in raised garden bed

Raised vegetable garden beds are the answer if you have sandy or clay soil. Instead of struggling with poor topsoil, all you need to do is fill your beds with high-quality topsoil and start gardening. Nutrient-rich soil can improve your garden beds, and to keep the soil healthy, continue to feed it with compost and other organic matter.

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Benefits: Reduce Weeds

Raised Bed

Once your raised raised beds are filled with fresh soil, cover the surfaces with an inch or two of mulch. This cuts back on all of the weeds (including the ones in our Weed ID Guide), reducing competition for nutrients, and preserving moisture.

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Benefits: Stop Grass from Invading

Raised Bed

Lawn grasses, which have spreading root systems, often infiltrate a standard vegetable garden and become a serious weed. When you build raised beds, nearby turf won't be able to spread into your vegetable crops, and your garden stays healthy and happy.

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Benefits: Stop Pests

Raised Bed

Even with raised vegetable garden beds, critters like rabbits and moles can make a mess of your crops. There are many ways to get rid of pests in your garden, and one way to thwart them is with taller beds. Design and build them at least four feet tall to discourage these invaders.

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Benefits: Make Your Garden More Attractive

Raised Bed

Set up a series of small raised garden beds in tidy rows, or in a pattern, and you'll end up with the most visually appealing vegetable plot on your block. Simply giving your raised bed an aesthetic touch bring admiration from your neighbors.

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Benefits: Never Till Again

Raised Bed

Raised vegetable garden beds provide a healthier environment for beneficial microorganisms and earthworms, since there's no foot traffic to compact the soil.

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Design Tip: Keep Raised Vegetable Garden Beds Narrow


Build your raised beds so that you can easily reach into the middle from either side. Most raised gardens are four feet across, since the average person can easily reach about two feet.

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Design Tip: Space Raised Beds Correctly

Raised Bed

In your raised vegetable garden plans, leave enough space between the beds so that you can 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 you build enough space to comfortably run your lawn mower through.

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Design Tip: Use Long-Lasting Materials

stone raised garden bed

When selecting materials for your DIY raised beds, choose rot-resistant lumber, such as cedar or redwood. Or choose other materials, such as brick, stone, or even a concrete, so that you won't need to rebuild.

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Design Tip: Add Decorative Elements to Raised Gardens

Raised Beds and metal watering can

Raised-bed vegetable garden designs can be attractive landscape features. Dress them 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: You'll find a wide variety of premade post caps at your local hardware store or home improvement center. Post caps for raised beds come in materials including wood, copper, and glass. Some even incorporate solar lights, adding highlights to your raised garden bed.

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Design Tip: Come Up with a Pattern for Beds

raised bed vegetable garden

Raised vegetable garden beds are often set up as squares or rectangles that run parallel to one another, but you can add some fun to your landscape by arranging the 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 move around and to comfortably reach into the beds.

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Design Tip: Add Height with Vines

Raised Bed

Include trellises, obelisks, or tuteurs in your raised-bed vegetable garden plans. Buy or build one or two to grow vining crops, such as peas, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The extra height brings visual drama to your plantings, especially if the majority of your crops are relatively low.

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Raised Vegetable Garden Plans

kale lettuce and greens in raised bed vegetable garden

Having a plan of action is ideal in any situation, even for vegetable gardens. Check out some raised vegetable garden plans for ideas and learn how to make one on your own.

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Materials for Raised Bed Gardens

Learn more about how to build raised garden beds with long-lasting materials.

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