Raised bed gardening is a particular approach to gardening that focuses on a different way of preparing the area for growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or herbs than has been typical. Typically, planting is done in an area that is cleared out, but is at ground level. In raised bed gardening, however, an elevated garden area is created above the ground level, using one of several construction techniques.
There are several advantages to be gained from raised bed gardening. One important feature is the ability to have more control over the soil. When one creates the beds for raised bed gardening, the garden soil is physically separated from the surrounding soil. As a result, you can start with a completely new soil mixture, that doesn’t inherit any of the problems that might be inherit in the “found” soil, such as poor quality or lots of rocks. Using raised bed gardening also means that the additions that are made to the soil, such as fertilizer, etc., can be geared to particular plants or groups of plants in a particular bed.
Other features of raised bed gardening include the ability to adjust the height to make them accessible both for people in wheelchairs, as well as accommodating the needs of people with impaired mobility. Besides making it easier for people with certain limitations to garden, raised bed gardening, by elevating the soil, allows the soil to warm earlier, leading to earlier planting in cooler climates. With a longer growing season, a gardener’s possibilities are extended. Another benefit is that any soil issues are restricted to one area—pests or disease that might otherwise spread through the garden may be limited to a single bed. In such a situation, you can dispose of the plants and soil, thoroughly clean the area and begin again.
Whether you construct or purchase a kit to create the beds you will use for raised bed gardening, you have a large number of choices open. For example, you can build in pest control, protecting your plants both from below and above ground. You can opt for a very simple approach, simply building up soil to create a mound of the size and shape desired, or create a far more elaborate design. Your garden can be framed by materials ranging from straw to plastic, stone, copper, or wood. Alternatively, raised bed gardening can be done in containers such as barrels, half barrels, or a children’s plastic sandbox with drainage holes added and mounted on a wheeled platform.