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Raised Beds for Vegetables

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 6 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Raised Beds Landscape Garden Wall Border

Raised bed gardening has a lot of benefits for many people and can increase the production capacity of a garden so if you are embarking on a garden landscape project that will include fruit or vegetable planting it's well worth considering them.

Raised Beds Benefit Gardeners and Gardens

The main idea of a raised bed is to build a low wall all around the bed area and fill it with soil or manure so that it reaches the height of the surround. This has a number of benefits for the gardener. The planting and growing area is easier to reach which is better for people who find bending or kneeling difficult. It also helps to confine the vegetable and fruit plants to that bed so they don't spill over into other areas of the garden.

The plants benefit too. It's easier to keep certain pests away from a raised bed as the border acts as a barrier. Other defences can be mounted on the top of the surround to keep small animals out too. The planting can be denser in a raised bed which helps reduce the space for weeds to take a hold, and a raised bed will have better drainage than the soil it's sitting on, something that's important in many parts of the United Kingdom.

Landscape Options Using Raised Beds

But what can raised beds offer to someone looking at the landscape of their garden?

The confined nature of raised beds makes it easier to include vegetable and fruit gardening as part of an overall landscape plan. This is because the area can be more tightly defined and the beds are generally more attractive than ground level planting.

Choose Your Material

The choice of material used to form the border can also tie the vegetable plot in to the rest of the garden and the house too. Although wood is probably the most common material used for raised beds, often in the form of reused railway sleepers, practically any from of building material can be used. That means that brickwork or stone which matches the house or garden walls can be employed, or a complete contrast, if it works.

Wooden surfaces can be stained or painted to help them blend in and for ecologically conscious garden landscape planners discarded wood such as industrial pallets can be employed. The gaps in the top surfaces would need to be filled to prevent the soil escaping though.

Using Raised Beds with Sloping Gardens

From a landscape point of view raised beds really come into their own is as a way of dealing with differing levels in sloping gardens. By building up one side of a slope and digging down on the other you can construct a level bed which will be sunk (or level) on the high side but forms a raised bed on the lower side of the slope. There are three things to watch if you decide to landscape a sloping garden in this way.

The first is to keep the beds narrow so that you can reach the plants at the back without having to climb up onto the walls of the raised bed. The second is to be careful with the digging and the construction of the walls. If the slope is quite pronounced you may need to get the advice of a structural engineer to make sure that your walls and barriers are strong enough to hold the soil behind them.

The third is to make sure that you make provision for drainage, particularly if the garden slopes to ward the house. The last thing you need is a raised bed entering your house after a storm.

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