Why Raised Beds Aren’t All It Takes
When it comes to your garden, you might think that raised beds will help create a certain aesthetically pleasing work space and some necessary separation of your garden from the rest of the grass, critters, and vermin in your yard. And you can’t go wrong. But that’s not the whole picture.
Let’s start with some clarity on what a raised bed is. Technically, you can add just a few inches of extra soil to a bed at ground level, and voila, it’s a raised bed. But when most people talk about a raised bed, they mean one that is raised and surrounded by walls, that is, a framed bed or a garden box. We will use this definition for our purposes.
According to the University of Georgia extension , the benefits of raised beds include fewer weeds, better drainage, less soil compaction due to foot traffic, and warmer soil in the spring. But there are also several disadvantages.
Raised beds are a wear-and-tear job, higher cost
All this registration is time consuming and expensive. Not only do you need to purchase materials and build a frame (usually wood, stone, brick, concrete or galvanized metal), but also level the ground under the beds, shield the bottoms (if pest control is the order of the day), line them with weed blocking fabrics. and also add so much soil. Also, do you have a circular saw? Because you will probably need it.
But back to the soil. According to Home Depot, “An 8 x 4 x 10” garden bed will require about 27 cubic feet of soil. Do you know how much soil is in a 40-pound bag? Yes, forty pounds, but that’s about 0.75 cubic feet of soil . To fill an 8 ‘x 4’ x 10 ‘bed, you will need 36 40-pound bags of topsoil. That at the current wholesale price of Home Depot, part of $ 2.04 per bag of 73 dollars plus tax only for the land – on the same beds. (This does not include any “soil amendments” such as compost or lime to balance the pH of the soil, or any construction material costs.)
Possibly poor quality soil
One of the commonly noted benefits of a garden bed is that you can cultivate the soil according to the needs of what you are growing. But this view overlooks the fact that, according to the Gardening Know-How blog, “store-bought soil may not contain the nutrients and minerals that natural soil does. And often it contains peat moss – an environmentally friendly product. ” (We have a post explaining turf issues here .)
Raised beds need more water (and the faster they get colder)
While raised beds provide better drainage (due to gravity), it also means the soil dries out faster, which requires more frequent watering. During the summer months, the risk of dehydration of plants is higher if you do not adhere to a regular watering schedule.
Although raised soil heats up earlier in spring than buried soil, increased air circulation cools it faster. Thus, while this may be an advantage for spring planting, it becomes a disadvantage for planting in September, October and later.
Raised beds require maintenance (and are permanent)
Hopefully you’re sure where you want to install these raised beds … because they’ll be there for a while. While it is possible, once installed, it is not easy to move the boxes and related soil; suddenly the changes to the layout are not discussed.
And like most outdoor materials, things end up falling apart, including the carefully constructed garden beds. When wear begins to show, you will need to repair, replace individual boards, or replace the entire bed.
There are, of course, exceptions.
We are not telling you to never use raised beds. What we are talking about is that they cannot guarantee that the hype, and you have to be sure that you want one. If you have poor compacted soil, full of clay or stones, or gardening on a hard surface such as cement, or want to add a different type of soil to your garden, then you should raise it. If not, however, you can save time, money, and save on the repairs needed to maintain this trendy piece that you didn’t really need.