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Common Mistakes in Raised Bed Gardening

Giving your garden an elevated space for growing is pleasing to the eyes and helps organize the space. Using raised beds for gardening, the plants are easy to access, and the warmer temps allow for off-season planting. Since the soil is confined in a space, you have more control over the soil’s texture, composition, and quality. Drainage is better too! Really, raised beds have so many benefits.

But converting an inground garden to a raised garden has its challenges. Just to make sure your plan goes well, let’s talk about some of the most common raised bed mistakes that many gardeners make and how to avoid them.

Raised Garden Mistakes You Should Avoid

A woman planting in an elevated raised bed

Choosing the Wrong Location

The perfect spot for a raised bed is in an area that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. If your garden has lots of shady areas, you'll have to think about how the space looks during the summer season. If you've made the mistake of picking a place that's sunny during summer and shady in the fall season, the plants might not get enough sunlight.

Forgetting About Irrigation

A gardener watering the plants

Raised beds that are too far away from a water source will be a pain to water! You'd have to lug around the watering can or get an extra-long hose to water your plants. When planning a raised garden, keep the raised beds near a water source for convenience. This goes regardless if you're planning to hand-water the beds or install drip lines or soaker hoses. It doesn't matter; the beds should be conveniently set near a water source!

Using Unsafe Materials

A raised bed made with pressure-treated lumber looks nice and lasts for years. But the thing with this material is that it is treated with chemicals that could leach into the soil. Repurposed wood materials make great raised beds, but their lifespan is pretty short.

Decay-resistant hardwood makes a terrific material for raised beds, but they cost a lot of money. But if you have oak, redwood, and beech, and teak, then, by all means, make raised beds out of these hardwearing wood materials.

A more reasonably priced material for raised beds would be ready-made beds made from fir wood. This is a rot-resistant wood material prized for its extreme durability. Our raised beds can be stacked or expanded and assembled in minutes. Other variants include elevated and tiered raised beds.

Building a Large Plot

Unless you have a vast expanse of space to spare for your raised bed garden, it's essential to plan the logistics when choosing the raised beds to use. If the raised beds are too big or too wide, they'll eat a lot of space. Moving around the garden could be cumbersome if there is barely any breathing room. Tending to the plants is also a struggle if the plots are too broad; you’d be walking in giant circles around the raised beds. The size of the raised beds should be just right for the area where it is set - not too big and not too small, never too narrow nor too wide.

Neglecting the Soil

A plant in a dry and cracked soil.

Not a lot of newbie gardeners know that garden soil is not enough to support plant growth. The soil has to be amended with organic fertilizer to improve its nutrient profile and texture! The thing with raised beds is that the soil tends to harden faster, so you’ll need to work it before the growing season.

Answering Common Raised Garden Bed Questions

What do I put on the bottom of a raised vegetable garden bed?

The great thing about using raised beds for gardening is that you can mix different organic materials to boost the soil’s nutrient composition. You need to layer the organic materials to speed up the decomposition process. We highly suggest layering grass clippings, dried leaves, wood chips, hay, or straw at the bottom of the raised vegetable garden bed.

Should I put rocks in the bottom of my raised garden bed?

Adding rocks at the bottom of a garden bed is a smart move because the soil tends to be compacted quicker when placed in a garden bed. The rocks will keep the soil in place, boost drainage, and reduce erosion. This is an excellent tip if you’re using dense soil too as they minimize standing water.

Should I line my raised garden bed with plastic?

Lining your raised bed with plastic liners will extend the life of the raised garden beds. The liners protect the wooden material from moisture and rot. Use landscape fabric to line the garden beds. Landscape fabric is more durable compared to black plastic. Assuming that you’re using high-quality landscape fabric, the toxicity is very low, chemicals won’t leach into the soil.

How deep should a raised bed garden be?

Raised garden beds do not have to be deep. For a raised vegetable garden, it should be about 12 to 18 inches deep. If the soil is dry or there is a drainage problem, choose a raised bed that’s about 8 to 12 inches deep.

Can you fill a raised bed with just compost?

You can plant straight in compost, but it's best used to amend the soil. Mix compost with garden or sandy soil for best results. No matter the mix, fill your raised bed with about ¾ triple mix, then top dress with about ¼ compost.

Using raised garden beds lets you overcome common gardening issues such as poor soil, standing water, poor drainage, and foot traffic. You can also layer materials like rocks, compost, or dried organic materials to improve drainage and give the soil a boost of nutrients! If you haven’t tried using raised garden beds, now’s the best time to do it. For more gardening tips and hacks, check out our blog.

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