What is a Raised Garden Planter?

Lou Paun

A raised garden planter is simply a growing area that has been raised higher than the original soil by adding garden soil and, sometimes, soil amendments. Usually the raised area is contained within a solid border wall that holds it firmly in place. Even a small growing area can be made into a raised garden planter, while a larger area can become a raised garden bed. A collection of raised beds is usually simply called a raised garden. There are many advantages to gardening in this way.

Handful of peat moss, which is often used in garden planters.
Handful of peat moss, which is often used in garden planters.

Drainage is greatly improved in a raised garden planter. This is an enormous benefit for gardeners who have wet, boggy soil in their garden, as many highly desirable plants really require well-drained, evenly moist soils. Drainage can be improved further by changing the composition of the soil in the raised bed. Conversely, plants that require wet conditions can be accommodated by adding peat moss or other water-retaining materials to the raised garden planter without disturbing the rest of the garden.

Gardening supplies.
Gardening supplies.

Because it is not necessary to step into a raised garden planter to weed, mulch, or deadhead, soil within the raised bed stays in good condition longer. It is never compacted under the feet of the gardener or garden visitors, and is easily reached by the gardener.

Plants grow better in loose cultivated soil. Plants that require very specific soils are easy to grow in raised garden beds. Most garden plants grow happily in ordinary garden soil with a neutral pH balance, and some are tolerant of a wide range of conditions. Some, however, are very sensitive to soil acidity or alkalinity, and may be quite particular in their requirements. It is easy to make soil more acidic or more alkaline within the confines of a raised garden planter.

A raised garden planter offers some protection from various garden pests. This protection can be increased in various ways. Gardeners who are troubled with moles and other tunneling pests should put heavy wire mesh down on the site before filling the raised bed with soil. A mesh-covered frame the exact size of the raised bed can be placed temporarily on the walls of the bed to protect seeds and seedlings from scavengers. An arched frame made the same way will protect ripening fruit and vegetables on low-growing plants.

It is possible to create a favorable microclimate in a raised garden planter. Plastic-covered frames placed over the raised bed can protect plants from late frosts in the spring and early frosts in the fall, and glass-covered frames can make a raised garden bed into a cold frame for the winter. The growing season can be extended easily with these devices.

Raised beds give a gardener more control over soil conditions.
Raised beds give a gardener more control over soil conditions.

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