Raised garden beds are not only the latest trend in modern and rural gardening, they sure make the traditional digging-on-your-hands-and-knees approach a lot more convenient. Many people simply don’t garden (or garden as much as they would like to) because the work is a bit more grueling than simply sitting on a stool and potting plants. This is why raised garden beds have become more than a trend and have actually taken over modern gardening in a fairly widespread manner, even changing the lifestyles of traditionalists and the rural farming community.
So, what are raised garden beds, anyway? And, do they actually help?
In laymen’s terms, raised garden beds allow you to weed, water, de-bug and interact with your garden by touch without having to kneel on the ground. In our book, Yes, they actually help.
People who are disabled, inflexible, mildly aging, or simply tired of their gardener’s back hump can easily see the benefits of raised garden beds. They come in two varieties: the beds which have a soil level a foot or two above ground level and the large-scale deep planters which actually make it possible for you to stand up or sit on a tall stool and get all of your planting and seeding done.
Other advantages of raised beds include the soil quality and weeding capabilities. In a raised bed, you provide all of your own soil (whether from digging it up or buying dirt from your local nursery). This creates a whole new level of convenience when it comes to pulling weeds. Not only is it easier to pull weeds, but truthfully, gardens with new dirt added really don’t need very much weeding at all. The weed seeds are simply not buried in the soil, waiting to spring up and ruin all of your plans.
What about Comparison Shopping?
The truth is garden beds and the hardware to easily assemble them have a wide range of pricing options. Fortunately, handcrafted or bulk-crafted kits can be ordered with prices anywhere from high double digits to the high triple digits, so you can easily browse and get the right one for the right price. Now, all we have to look at are the different types of garden beds. And, the variety is interesting.
Best Raised Garden Beds 2018
|Material Type||Item Weight|
|Greenes Cedar Raised Garden Bed||40 x 80 x 10.5||Wood||39|
|Lifetime Raised Garden Bed Kit||48.2 x 9.6 x 19.9||Wood||34.1|
|Victory Fabric Raised Garden Bed||36 x 36 x 11.5||Fabric||1.5|
|Metal Raised Garden Bed||46 x 35 x 12||Metal||10|
|Smart Pots 12100 Big Bag Bed Fabric Raised Bed||50 x 50 x 12||Fabric||1.95|
|Vegetable Garden Bed Elevated Planter Kit||48.5 x 22.5 x 30||Wood||33|
Benefits of Gardening in Raised Beds
1. Greenes Cedar Raised Garden Bed – Best Wooden Garden Bed
How it’s different: For the eco-friendly naturalist, this particular raised bed is made from wood which is naturally rot-resistant and insect-free. This is so that there is no chemically treated wood to irritate people who are trying to get back into nature but have sensitive skin. It’s functional, it’s a simple design, and it can be put together with zero tools. The stackable nature and fit-together design allow you to make it as big or as small as you like, unlike pre-formed garden frames which give you fewer options.
Features: This garden bed is fully stackable and can be stacked to create a 21 inch high garden for easier handling. If you want to try out the lower height, but then raise it if it’s too low, then this will perform up to your expectations. Because this is a mix-and-match size and shape, you can fully customize the layout and design of your garden ahead of time and then fit as many kits as you like to make the shape and size you desire. Also, being American-made, those of us who love to support U.S. business can simply pick out what we want.
It has a simple design, so if you want your garden bed to be part of the main attraction in your garden, you will have to find something a bit bolder and more stylish. However, because it is so versatile, you may be able to paint or design it further once it arrives. Another con is, if you are wanting to create a stair-step design in your garden, you may need to get creative with inside dividers in order to keep all of the dirt in one place. A stair-step design would be possible with this, however. Users also found the boards to be unfinished and rough, which had a risk of splinters if not used with gardening gloves.
2. Lifetime 60053 Raised Garden Bed Kit – Best Garden Bed Kit
How it’s different: This awesome and spacious 4×4 kit (with two beds and one cover)is the perfect Do-It-Yourself kit for those of us who don’t have a lot of tools lying around but still want to set it up and take it down easily and quickly. The high-density polyethylene material is completely resistant to rot, cracking, peeling, insects, and anything else that might try to get in. It is a 4 foot by 4 foot size and it creates the perfect visual effect for when you simply want to add a few large squares of vegetables or bright, popping, flower color to your front yard or back garden area. It’s both tough and lightweight, which means that you can set it down, determine how wide your biggest lawn mower is, and then fill it with dirt when you’re satisfied.
Features: One of the biggest pros for this garden bed is the durability and sheer move-worthiness of its design. You can deconstruct it just as easily as you put it up if you want to move to a new house or create a bigger garden bed. Another big pro is the black material, which absorbs heat, thus keeping roots warm and protected. Adding the early-start cover to the equation, you can start getting your garden ready for blooming when the first shoots of spring begin to come out. The cover allows you to both access the plants and then zip them back up in their mini-greenhouse. It’s an effortless design.
Not everyone likes the black plastic look of non-natural materials. Some people prefer the wooden, made-by-hand touch to a garden and will not prefer the modern, efficient look of the durable polyethylene. While the design is made to look as if it is painted wood, it is a superficial look and doesn’t fool the eye. While the unit can be stacked to form a higher wall, it is only 9 inches high and the stacked unit would only be 18 inches high. Some gardeners prefer a higher access.
3. Victory 8 Fabric Raised Garden Bed – Best Fabric Raised Bed
How it’s different: If you abhor the stiff, rigid look of a framed bed, then this fabric bag raised garden bed may be just your style. The black, aerodynamic fabric keeps airflow continuous and the warm rays of the sun fully absorbed and warming your roots. The high movability of this fabric garden bed makes it perfect for people who love to garden and will either be moving soon or who tend to move every year or two years. If you’re always relocating, this fabric bed will be perfect for you. In addition to that, the fabric is made from polypropylene, which is a chemical that is so non-toxic that surgeons use it inside of people when stitching deeper tissues together. So far proven by users to last through several growing seasons and rain, sleet, ice, and snow, these fabric beds are pretty durable.
Features: This particular bed comes in a wide variety of sizes right in the checkout area: 2×2, 2×4, 3×3, 3×6, 4×4, and 4×8 feet sizes. That provides you with fairly unlimited possibilities regarding where and when you plant your beds. You can have several small beds on your porch, and some larger beds throughout your property. And, since they are fabric bags, you can save all of the soil you use, pour it into a container to move it, and then set up the bed again after your move with all of the original soil if you like.
A small percentage of users found that the fabric held in water, which caused mold and mildew. This may be exacerbated by putting the bed in a location with high, unmowed grass, a lower part of your yard that gets a lot of moisture retention, or in a less-than-sunny spot which may cause the sun to not keep the surface as dry as it can be. Placement of your garden in well-drained areas may be important when using a fabric garden bed.
4. Metal Raised Garden Bed – Best Metal Garden Bed
How it’s different: If you’ve ever lived with termites, you may not currently be in a mood for wooden construction. Instead, this metal raised garden bed may be exactly the kind of tough you’re looking for. Metal construction carries a certain reliability with it which can put the beginning raised bed gardener at ease. This particular bed carries the added advantage of starting out with 12 inch high walls (with no stacking required to get above 10 inches) and is a nice little compact bed. It is a little under 3 feet by 4 feet in space and fits perfectly on the ground beside a nice, raised patio. Being metal, it is extremely lightweight, so that even the smallest members of your family can help with construction, deconstruction, and moving. The metal is already designed in a pleasing beige color which will match just about every decor available and will contract nicely with your green plants.
Features: One of our favorite things about this bed is the sheer space in it. Being 12 inches high and almost 3×4 feet in space, it is perfect for your deep-rooted plants and for tending plants that require a lot of above-ground attention. The construction is effortless and you don’t need any tools to put it together. That is one of the greatest things about modern raised garden bed designs: most of them are made so that you don’t need tools to set them up. Users who were looking for something that was not wood or plastic were really happy with this design. A lot of compliments were given by users for the beige color, as well.
Often, people fear the inevitable rusting that occurs in all things made of metal. While users found that the bed was, indeed, deep enough to grow carrots (and all other types of root vegetables), the question and answer section recommended NOT using this for red wiggler worm composting. Worms prefer darkness and the plastic lining is not sufficient to keep the light out since it is thin. Another con that people found was that in a couple of scenarios (though this seemed to be a real aberration), the package was mailed without the accompanying hardware to put it together.
How it’s different: This fabric bag designed especially for growing plants is quite useful. Many users found it to be one of the best grow bags on the market and its large size really allowed for a large number of plants and for small trees and large bushes to be planted in them. This was particularly noted by people who wanted to be able to move citrus trees indoors for the winter, and this bag apparently worked particularly well for dwarf citrus trees in cold climates. While many grow bags can only hold one bush at a time, this bed is specially made to be able to be moved when necessary, thus allowing you to re-landscape your yard without having to redo everything. This also allows for quite a few plants to be put in it, giving you the option to have a single, entire vegetable garden in one location.
Features: The 13.5 feet of growing area which this garden bag gives is more than ample reason to give rave reviews. Users found that the extra space and round shape allowed them to plant more than they were expecting. The material is also specially designed to evaporate heat when necessary and to encourage water to evaporate when necessary, which cuts down on the mold and mildew which occurs in some garden grow bags. This raised garden bag is excellent for renters who want a larger garden but who don’t want to ruin the landlord’s original landscape. You can set it up anywhere that has a flat surface (ground, concrete, wood, etc.) and get to growing!
Because the bag is so large, many users recommended trying it out in a particular location (with rocks in the bottom to hold it down) to make sure that this is where you want to place it. Since the bag is so large, it is difficult to move it once it is completely full of dirt, so many users recommended making sure of your location first. Users also stated that the walls only staid up when it was completely filled with dirt, but that is a deduction which most people could make if they are purchasing a grow bag of any type. Apparently, there was an expectation that somehow the walls would be “stiff” instead of the sides of a vegetable bag raised bed garden.
How it’s different: One of the best planters and raised garden beds available is this 30-inch tall garden bed which takes a lot of work out of your gardening. If you are elderly, have stiff joints, have arthritis, are a kid, or simply like the ease of use, this raised garden bed is perfect for your current lifestyle. The 46×22 inch bed is great for actually getting tons of flowers and vegetables and even some strawberries planted and growing right in your sunniest window, directly on your porch, or in your kid’s back play area. It’s a great way to grow fast-growing plants and watch them shoot up with your kids and your grandkids. It’s also a great way to have live, sweet-smelling flowers filling your sunroom with wonderful scent and oxygen-producing freshness throughout the year.
Features: This raised bed is obviously perfect for kids and the elderly, but what if you just like having the convenience of a much higher raised bed garden? You can put four of these in your potting shed, use one for seed starters, use the second for repotting seedling into larger pots, use the third for soil mixtures, and use the fourth for larger plants you’d like to grow in a more protected area.
It’s also great for dealing with all of your gardenings from a single table and chair. Set six of these up around a large table and chair area, use the table for potting and grow entire vegetable and flower gardens at once in a single, circular location.
Many users were concerned about the fact that they had to treat the wood before putting it together, though they found that it went together snugly and nicely. A few users complained that the untreated wood only lasted one season, though others found that, even untreated, it has lasted 2 years and look ready to take 2 more! A lot of this seems to be dependent upon the type of weather you typically have in your region. Rain heavy and harsher weather environments may require you to treat the wood before fully assembling the raised garden bed.
So, what are you looking for in a raised garden bed? While some of the more novelty items may look interesting, function over form may be wise to consider. We will help you sort out of the relevant data which you may need to consider before getting your next couple of raised garden beds.
What are the seasons like in your location?
Areas with strong moisture and long wet seasons may want to steer clear of wooden beds which may tend to warp over time. If you find wood raised beds which have treated wood, then buy one and try it out for a whole year before buying more.
In extremely dry areas, cheaper plastics may crack more easily, so make sure you buy polyethylene or polypropylene plastics or fabrics so that your manufactured materials bed is in good working condition year after year.
How much do you like playing in the dirt?
We’ve obviously covered physical limitations (and the solutions thereof) in some of the product reviews above, but you really will have to think about how much you enjoy getting down in the dirt and playing around. Not everyone has the inclination and you may find yourself buying something unique and novel on a whim, but it turns out that it’s a lot lower to the ground than you were expecting and therefore not very amenable to your tastes.
Will kids be using or playing near any of these?
There is nothing more special than a child who loves the art of gardening. However, even the most plant-happy kid can accidentally topple over a raised planter bed or smash through the soft lip of a filled grow bag, damaging the plants inside.
If you have kids, plan on using low-to-the-ground frame planters and low raised garden beds. If at all possible situation them near each other so that they will not likely to be the place where the kids play. Children enjoy more open areas and equipment on which they can climb and hide. Feed this need by setting them up on the other side of your yard. Small raised beds are perfect to get your kid interested in their own little garden but keep that away from the play area, too.
Will you be worm composting?
Many new gardeners want to take advantage of the brilliance of worm composting. Worm composting should NEVER be done in a raised bed garden. Instead, buy one of the dark, highly durable containers which are designed especially for worm composting. They can be purchased fairly cheaply and can be used for many, many years to come. Never do worm composting in your raised bed garden, because worms need greater darkness than a shallower bed can produce and you will need a closeable container which will block out the smell of the rotting material inside. You can, however, use your finished compost and your compost tea in ALL of your raised bed gardens and this will help feed your plants a variety of nutrients. Learn about worm composting and get the refrigerator stickers or magnets which list exactly the types of things you can and cannot feed your red wriggler worms.
In conclusion, raised bed gardening is one of the more satisfying layout designs of the gardener’s handbook. Many gardener’s love the aesthetic design of a step-up garden where there are different layers of steps and each step has a different kind of flower or vegetable. While this is truly a remarkable display, make sure that your step gardens have short lengths, so that you can still easily reach the middle.
If you are going to grow tomatoes in these garden beds, you might be interested in review of tomato cages, that will help your plant to yield abundant, juicy harvests.
Enjoy your amazing design and Happy Gardening!