Raised Garden Beds vs. In-Ground Beds: Pros & Cons

Raised Garden Beds vs. In-Ground Beds: Pros & Cons

The second you set eyes on our backyard, it’s fairly apparent that we love raised backyard beds round right here! We choose to develop the vast majority of our veggies, flowers, and herbs in raised beds. As you learn by means of this text, you’ll see that now we have some dang good causes to again that choice. Nevertheless, maybe raised beds aren’t perfect for you and your backyard area – and that’s completely okay! Let’s discuss in regards to the potential drawbacks and advantages of utilizing raised backyard beds (in comparison with planting immediately within the floor) – so you’ll be able to resolve what fits you greatest. In the event you resolve that raised beds are best for you, learn to simply construct you personal right here!

What’s a raised backyard mattress, or an in-ground backyard?

Within the easiest of phrases, a raised backyard mattress is a container or field filled with soilin which crops are grown. Raised beds (additionally known as backyard bins or planter bins) are mostly constructed of wooden lumber, although they can be fabricated from stone, bricks, concrete, galvanized metallic, logs, sturdy cloth or different supplies. As I consult with raised backyard beds by means of this text, I’m primarily specializing in wood raised beds – although most of the professionals and cons we’ll talk about additionally apply to different varieties of beds!

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In a house backyard setting, raised backyard beds are sometimes utilized in lieu of planting immediately within the floor. But some people might develop crops straight of their native soil, as-is with no modifications in any respect. However, many in-ground backyard beds are fashioned by tilling, amending, and including to the native soil (reminiscent of including compost). This creates a barely mounded in-ground backyard mattress; a definite planting space from the encircling yard area.

Now let’s dig a bit deeper into their variations.

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Here’s a listing of the notable advantages of utilizing raised backyard beds, together with a few of their benefits over in-ground gardens. A lot of the perks of raised beds are plain, just like the added skill to manage burrowing pests. Admittedly a couple of different of the “professionals” are barely extra subjective, reminiscent of aesthetics and magnificence. Both method, raised backyard beds are a wonderful and fashionable method to develop meals at dwelling!

1) Management over soil high quality

With raised backyard beds, you will have higher management over the situation, high quality, and texture of your soil. Reasonably than merely working with what you’ve received, raised beds may be crammed with a super soil that your crops will love. In any case, soil high quality and composition is among the most necessary components (if not THE most necessary issue) that results in a wholesome and profitable backyard!

Perfect backyard soil is wealthy with natural matter, has a texture that’s free sufficient to simply permit root development, will readily soak up water, however can be well-draining. This primarily describes “sandy loam”, one of the best all-around soil sort for rising crops. Wholesome soil can be filled with helpful microorganisms. See this text to be taught extra about how we fill our raised beds with the “good” natural soil.

Maybe the native soil in your yard or backyard is close to good already. That’s wonderful! You’re one of many fortunate ones. But many dwelling gardeners discover that their native soil is just not appropriate or fascinating to develop meals in for one purpose or one other. For instance, the soil might have poor drainage or in any other case crummy composition – reminiscent of an excessive amount of clay soil, silt, or very rocky. You’ll have to closely work and amend these sorts of soils earlier than planting. Much more, native soil could also be contaminated, beforehand handled with herbicides or different pesticides. In that case, you’d doubtless wish to keep away from planting in it in any respect.

Our native soil is extraordinarily silty. It lacks construction, air pockets for microbial life, and water runs proper off the highest – until it’s already totally saturated, which takes loads of effort to do. Due to this fact, we all the time combine in a superb quantity of compost and bagged soil once we plant bushes or shrubs immediately within the floor.

2) Deep soil for roots

Raised beds are often deep, with ample area for roots to develop. Bigger, deeper root techniques equals greater and extra luscious crops! Now after all this profit will differ relying on how deep you assemble your raised backyard beds. Additionally, what you put in the beds on prime of – if something.

Usually, I all the time suggest an absolute minimal depth of 1 foot tall raised backyard beds. If the raised beds have a backside, are blocked by weed barrier cloth beneath (we’ll get to that), or are in any other case sitting on a strong floor, I strongly counsel creating beds which are least 18 to 24 inches deep. Some crops will develop in just a few inches of soil, however commonest backyard crops like tomatoes, peppers, kale, and eggplant will likely be most proud of considerably deeper soil. Deeper beds additionally retain moisture higher than shallow beds, and are extra protected against flooding than in-ground beds.

An in-ground backyard mattress inherently has “deep” soil too. Nevertheless, we’re again to contemplating the composition of the native soil. In the event you occur to have nice native soil, then you definately’re good to go! But should you’re working with clay, massive rocks, or different less-than-ideal soil construction – you’re both going to want to work actually arduous to until and amend the soil deeply, or the plant’s root area will likely be restricted.

3) Raised beds are extra ergonomic

Many gardeners actually admire the snug ergonomics of raised beds over in-ground gardening. I do know our backs and knees certain do! Raised backyard beds are extra accessible for individuals who use a wheelchair, walker, or in any other case have bother bending over or stooping. Even when I often do get down on my knees to work across the beds (with the assistance of a padded kneeler!) I’m far much less hunched over. Our 2-foot tall beds are additionally the right peak to function an additional seat within the backyard when wanted.

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In the event you do have restricted mobility or again points, make your raised beds not more than 4 toes large; my beneficial most width generally. But within the case of a nasty again, an extended three-foot large mattress is even higher! The broader the mattress, the additional you’ll have to lean and attain to work within the center. Some raised mattress kits are elevated on legs for even higher ergonomics!

4) Simpler to exclude pests

Rising meals (or different crops) in raised backyard beds gives an additional layer of protection towards pests. The body and peak of the raised mattress serves as an impediment and potential deterrent for pests like slugs, snails, and rabbits. That’s, until they’re fairly decided – however then it’s very easy so as to add hoops and floating row covers tucked neatly over the beds to dam them altogether. That is additionally efficient towards rodents, squirrels, birds, skunks, neighborhood cats, and extra.

You should utilize hoops and netted row covers to guard in-ground backyard beds from sure pests too, however not those that dig! For us, this is among the most necessary advantages of raised backyard beds – an absolute life-saver actually. The gopher situation right here is REAL. It’s almost inconceivable to develop 99% of meals crops immediately within the floor in our space as a result of the gophers will eat and kill all of it.

With raised beds, harmful burrowing pests like gophers, moles, and voles may be blocked off from beneath, stopping entry to the mattress and crops utterly. We line the underside of all of our raised beds with galvanized {hardware} fabric to guard our crops. We even make massive DIY {hardware} fabric gopher baskets to plant fruit bushes in! This fashion, our crops are secure (ahem, survive…) with out embarking on a continuing battle or resorting to traps, poison, or different harsh means. Raised beds can be constructed tall sufficient to dissuade canine or chickens from stepping into them, particularly should you connect a straightforward DIY trellis that doubles as a fence!

Rooster wire is cheaper and typically used as an alternative of {hardware} fabric to line the underside of beds or create gopher baskets. Nevertheless, hen wire disintegrates with time, has barely bigger openings, and a few pests can chew by means of it. Due to this fact, I extremely suggest {hardware} fabric for below raised beds when burrowing pests are a identified situation.

5) Much less weeds

Just like blocking out pests, raised beds have the benefit of permitting much less weed intrusion than in-ground gardens. Firstly, should you fill your raised backyard beds with contemporary weed-free soil, they’re far much less more likely to develop weeds inside them in any respect. In distinction, native soil and in-ground beds might comprise weeds and weed seeds. Although good mulching practices will help suppress weeds in both setting.

The tall borders created by a raised mattress prevents weeds from creeping in from the backyard pathways round them. It’s also possible to forestall invasive weeds from sneaking in from beneath by offering some sort of weed barrier below the raised mattress, earlier than filling it with soil. Examples of weed-smothering supplies embrace weed barrier cloth or cardboard, relying on the severity.

When putting in a raised backyard mattress on a reasonably weed-free or solely barely weedy space, lining the underside of the mattress with unwaxed cardboard will assist smother and kill most weeds. But some conditions name for one thing a bit extra long-lasting and efficient. Our yards had been as soon as filled with super-weedy crabgrass “garden”. Despite the fact that we eliminated the garden earlier than putting in the raised beds, we knew from expertise that it will come again. Consequently, we lined all the space with commercial-duty panorama cloth* to forestall the crabgrass from rising in our raised beds or surrounding gravel.

*Notice: I extremely suggest utilizing a commercial-grade weed barrier cloth (like this one now we have all the time used, or this different highly-rated choice) over the actually skinny black plastic-like materials generally offered in backyard facilities. That stuff simply rips, doesn’t final lengthy, and makes a sizzling mess!

6) Raised backyard beds look good

Not that in-ground gardens can’t look good as properly! Personally, I like the added visible curiosity that raised beds deliver to a backyard area. They create dimension and a well-defined rising space. Planter bins of various sizes, heights and shapes may be positioned to create distinctive and engaging backyard designs. To not point out that wooden planter bins may be fairly stunning in their very own proper – even once they’re empty. Particularly should you wrap them in photo voltaic string lights!

Lastly, it’s simpler to maintain raised backyard beds trying tidy than in-ground backyard beds. The distinct edges and borders forestall pathway floor cowl like gravel or bark mulch from spilling into the planting space itself.

7) Put them wherever

The ultimate good thing about raised backyard beds (for this listing anyhow!) is you can set up them just about wherever. Similar to pots and different containers, raised backyard beds are very versatile – and a few are even cellular! On the flip aspect, your in-ground backyard is proscribed to the place you occur to have open out there soil. And that area might or will not be stage or obtain full solar – each most popular traits for a backyard.

You’ll be able to add raised beds to a patio space, balcony, terraced into the aspect of hill or slope, and even create a rooftop backyard. Mainly, wherever that’s structurally sound and has good solar publicity. As an illustration, we plan so as to add a pair raised beds alongside our asphalt driveway this spring. We’re all the time looking out for extra rising area, and the driveway space receives glorious noon to afternoon solar.

When putting in a raised backyard mattress on prime of a strong floor, reminiscent of a patio or balcony, there are some things to consider. First, it is necessary that the mattress has sufficient drainage for water to flee. Nevertheless, it is also greatest if the mattress has some form of backside to comprise the soil. In any other case, it is going to slowly seep out of the underside and create an enormous mess. One choice is to line the open backside of a wooden body planter field with geotextile cloth. Or, you may merely use a “cloth” raised mattress – like a large develop bag! Different raised mattress kits have built-in drainage techniques, designed to be used on a patio.

As you’ll be able to see, there are quite a few respectable advantages to raised backyard beds! But similar to something in life, there are some potential disadvantages which are value contemplating. Let’s speak about a number of the drawbacks of raised beds.

1) Raised beds require extra supplies & upfront price

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Sadly, stunning raised mattress gardens don’t simply seem out of skinny air. They require lumber, screws, instruments, and a hefty quantity of soil to fill the beds. The price of supplies and soil can actually add up, notably should you’re constructing and filling quite a few raised beds at one time! In-ground backyard beds are much more easy and inexpensive, although you should still wind up buying not less than some compost and amendments to get began.

A couple of methods to make filling raised backyard beds extra economical is to supply native high quality soil and compost in bulk. We created our gardens and added raised beds in levels, staggering mini-projects over a number of years to unfold the associated fee out. One other method to reduce the price of filling beds is to embrace an rising pattern in gardening: the idea of hugelkultur! In hugelkultur, you fill a number of the backside empty area within the mattress with logs, branches and/or bark from round your property earlier than including a superb foot of soil on prime.

2) Require some fundamental useful expertise and instruments

If you wish to construct your personal raised backyard beds, it does require a little bit of useful work, muscle, and instruments. You’ll additionally want to have the ability to work by means of some fundamental calculations to design the beds and buy the suitable dimension and quantity of lumber. In the event you don’t have a noticed at dwelling, many lumber departments will lower boards to your required lengths for you. After we constructed our first raised beds, we didn’t actually have a energy drill… so we resorted to nailing it collectively! I don’t counsel that.

Creating in-ground gardens requires some muscle as properly, however is much more simple and requires little-to-no instruments.

Fortunately, placing collectively an oblong planter field is nearly some of the easy and simple DIY “constructing” initiatives on the market. Don’t be intimidated! To make it even simpler, I’ve created this step-by-step tutorial (video included) on the best way to design and construct a raised backyard mattress.

Not feeling as much as constructing your personal? There are some actually glorious, sturdy, stunning cedar raised mattress kits out there on the market. These ones from Gardener’s Provide get nice evaluations. They arrive in a wide range of sizes, and at 15″ deep, will present a pleasant quantity of root area on your crops.

3) They gained’t final ceaselessly

Not like in-ground backyard beds, most backyard bins will finally want repairs or alternative. When that point comes, it means loads of work to maneuver soil, substitute boards, or substitute the mattress completely. The lifespan of a raised backyard mattress is determined by the supplies it’s fabricated from. For instance, stone or block raised backyard beds will last more than wood planter bins. Properly-made wooden beds will maintain up far longer than poorly-made wooden beds.

I all the time counsel constructing raised beds from high-quality 2-inch thick hardwood lumber reminiscent of cedar or coronary heart redwood. Each of that are naturally rot- and termite-resistant, and might final properly over a decade. Right here on the west coast, coronary heart redwood (what we use) is available and simply as inexpensive as cedar. Cedar is commonest on the east coast. Nevertheless, cedar and redwood do price greater than cheaper pine wooden, douglas fir, thinner 1-inch boards, fence boards, plywood, or repurposed scrap wooden. Nevertheless, these supplies can rapidly rot, bow, or in any other case degrade. By no means use strain handled lumber – it is stuffed with toxins!

The upfront price of high quality lumber is a worthy funding if you’re constructing raised beds.

4) Raised beds are extra everlasting

When you construct and set up raised backyard beds, it’s comparatively troublesome to maneuver them or change the structure of your backyard area. Not that it will probably’t be completed! Now we have dug the soil out of many raised beds to relocate or re-design them through the years. We even bagged up soil and moved wooden bins from a rental home to this dwelling. I can’t say it’s enjoyable to do although.

In distinction, you’ll be able to modify an in-ground backyard area with far much less effort! All you should do is dig up a brand new space. If mandatory, you may even plow it throughout and re-seed the world with grass to please a landlord. Rattling landlords.

5) Restricted shapes and curves

Maybe you benefit from the really feel of a extra gentle, pure, and flowing backyard. In-ground gardens present extra flexibility for inventive shapes and kind fewer arduous strains than raised beds. Except you’re notably useful and have the proper instruments, planter bins are often restricted to sq. or rectangular shapes. Nevertheless, we’re in a position so as to add stream and softness to our backyard area in different methods. For instance, our cobblestone-bordered planting areas, curved pathways, and billowing shrubs and flowers deliver steadiness to the structured raised beds.

And that concludes the potential drawbacks and advantages of raised backyard beds.

As you’ll be able to see, the potential advantages of raised backyard beds or in-ground gardens largely is determined by your distinctive backyard area, native soil, price range, aesthetic preferences, and prevalence of pests. For us, the advantages of raised backyard beds clearly outweigh the cons. But each types of gardening are worthy and fantastic! I hope that this text gave you some “ah-ha” moments as you slim down which sort of beds are greatest for you. Who is aware of, perhaps you are able to do just a little of every!

Please be at liberty to ask questions within the feedback beneath, or add enter about what sort of backyard you like. Unfold the backyard love and information by sharing or pinning this text!

Take a look at these associated articles:

  • Design & Construct a Raised Backyard Mattress
  • Fill a Raised Backyard Mattress: Construct the Excellent Natural Soil
  • Composting 101: What, Why & Compost at Dwelling
  • Amend & Fertilize a Raised Backyard Mattress Between Seasons
  • Construct a Trellis: Cheap & Straightforward DIY Designs
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Raised Garden Beds vs. In-Ground Beds: Pros & Cons

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