The Power of Raised Garden Beds
The benefits of raised bed gardening are well-known and embraced by those who appreciate its structure and simplicity. With an ability to bypass non-ideal soil conditions, maintain good drainage with proper moisture retention, and protect against soil erosion, weeds, and pests, proponents say the use of raised beds means higher yields and less headaches for the modern gardener.
While certainly an attractive proposition on the surface, the significant labor and time needed to create a raised bed garden are often overlooked and catch many off guard.
Although not rocket science by any consideration, some carpentry skills and manual labor are needed to piece together the frame of your raised garden—not to mention the measuring and cutting of wood planks that come beforehand. Mismeasurement and split boards are common setbacks for those aiming to construct their own raised garden beds.
Furthermore, traditional raised beds are not easily modified, requiring dismantling to expand and stack. In addition, there is the peril of toxic chemicals leaching into the soil from treated woods. In many cases, these issues are just enough to deter hopeful gardeners altogether.
Fortunately, entrepreneurial spirits have aimed (and succeeded) at making raised bed gardening easier and more accessible than ever before. Modular raised garden kits now feature boards cut from high-quality, non-toxic materials that slot together without the need for a hammer and nails, reducing assembly time to just minutes.
Perhaps the greatest feature of modular beds is the ease with which gardeners can both expand and stack them. Those wishing to accommodate more plants within a bed simply can pull apart the existing boards and plug in new ones (if this sounds like Lincoln Logs for gardening, then you have the right idea). This plug-and-play approach not only gives gardeners the opportunity to expand their beds, but also to experiment with custom layouts.
An L-shaped garden bed can be fit snugly into a small yard space. In a long and narrow space, a U-shaped bed can provide garden space on both sides and a walkway down the middle. How about an E-shape? The flexibility of raised modular garden beds gives gardeners the freedom to be creative with their garden layout.
In addition to horizontal expansion, gardeners may need to expand vertically by stacking their raised garden beds. Beyond the aesthetic appeal, gardeners that grow tomatoes, watermelons, and other plants with deeper root systems will benefit from the depth created by stacked beds. A tiered approach is also useful when planting tall and short plants close together. Planting short plants in the higher tier prevents taller plants in the low tier from overshadowing the smaller plants.
Gardening is generally considered a gentle hobby, but older gardeners will no doubt testify that all the bending over takes its toll. Stacked beds are a perfect solution for those with back and mobility issues, as they decrease the distance needed to reach the soil level. Gardeners in wheelchairs have also enjoyed the easier access provided by stacked raised garden beds.
An important factor to consider when stacking beds is the increase in outward pressure that a greater volume of soil imparts upon the bed frame. This may be countered with the simple addition of a crossbeam.
The more complete kits also seek to end gardeners’ irrigation woes with grids that not only evenly water your plants but also provide measured spacing—perfect for square foot gardening.
Popularized by Mel Bartholomew in the early ’80s, the square foot gardening method aims to simplify the gardening process by dividing a garden space into equal, square sections. As modular raised garden beds provide a natural and sturdy perimeter, many gardeners have implemented this gardening method with great success, especially where space is limited.
If starting a raised garden is on your to-do list, but you aren’t confident in your carpentry skills or thrilled with the idea of bending over planks of wood, consider a modular raised garden kit. The benefits of a raised garden bed combined with the versatility of modular design make gardening easier than ever. Plus, with all the measuring and cutting taken care of already, you can get down to the gardening in no time at all.