Gardens are an ever-evolving work in progress. As gardeners, we are regularly taking inventory of our successes and setbacks while making adjustments and trying new things along the way. It can be fun to try new gardening techniques and carve out new garden spaces, and an excellent place to start is with some raised garden bed ideas & designs. There are no set parameters for raised bed gardens and no limits to their size or shape, but planning out a thoughtfully designed raised bed garden can benefit gardeners in many ways.
Check out our raised garden bed ideas & designs guide and discover the benefits of raised garden beds, some inspirational building strategies, and materials you can use to construct raised garden beds.
Benefits of Raised Garden Beds
Raised garden beds are excellent long term investments that provide gardeners with a multitude of benefits. They give the gardeners some great benefits, lessening the need for bending, weeding, and they even provide the ideal warm and fertile environment for root systems to thrive for better growth.
- Space Efficiency: Raised beds are fantastic for gardeners with limited garden space. Raised beds can be built on top of undesirable growing areas with minimal effort.
- Enhanced Soil: You can control the soil quality in your raised garden beds as opposed to working with your ground soil which can be more difficult to amend.
- Maximized Harvest: Growing more plants with less space is a benefit of raised garden beds. Companion planting in raised beds allows you to grow plants in the shade of other plants, up to climbing structures and spilling over the sides.
- Weed Control: Raised garden beds can be constructed over the top of grassy areas. You can lay a foundation of cardboard over most surfaces like grass. If you put down cardboard and newspaper, then your soil, and top it with cardboard and mulch, you can significantly cut down on those pesky weeds.
- Counteracts Pests: Raised beds can also help control pests that plague garden beds. Raised garden beds are built above the ground, which can ward off pests that thrive in the ground and seek to munch on your crops. You can easily cover your beds and also prevent tunneling garden critters from devastating your crops.
- Less Work: Gardening in raised garden beds, especially those elevated off of the ground, makes for less arduous work such as bending, weeding, watering, and harvesting.
Materials for Building Raised Beds
Raised beds can be made from a variety of materials that can be sourced in many ways. You can use just about anything to build a raised bed, but it is paramount that you do not use chemically treated materials for growing edibles. Try some of these materials to make your next garden bed.
- Untreated Pallets
5 Raised Bed Garden Mistakes to Avoid
In this video Bridget Ayers, a backyard gardener in Southern California – Zone 10b, discusses 5 things to consider when designing and building your raised garden beds. Whether your garden is big or small, make the most of your space with these tips and watch the full 5 Raised Bed Garden Mistakes to Avoid video on the Kellogg Garden Youtube Channel.
Raised Garden Bed Ideas
There are so many great raised bed garden ideas & designs to choose from. Peruse the list of some of our favorite raised garden bed ideas & designs and discover the ones that are right for you. Jot some ideas in your garden planner and select one or combine different techniques and incorporate them into your garden spaces as you develop your garden over time.
Square Foot Garden Grids
Raised garden bed ideas and designs that focus on segmenting the growing space into one-square-foot sections is a fantastic technique. The aim is to plant vegetables, herbs, and companion plants intensively for maximum productivity.
Hoop House Raised Bed
Expand your growing season and protect your plants by incorporating a protective hoop-house into your raised garden bed structure. A hoop house will help protect plants from frost, heat, as well as destructive garden pests and critters.
If you don’t have the time or know-how to build your own raised beds, invest in some metal animal troughs and turn them into raised garden beds. Fill them with raised bed soil, add some drainage holes, and enjoy the industrial look of warm soil and instant raised garden beds.
Trellised Garden Beds
Incorporate vertical gardening into your raised garden beds by adding arches or trellises to your planting spaces. Consider using cattle fencing to create an archway that connects two beds and grow climbing veggies and gourds, creating a magical, secret garden.
Try your hand at permaculture gardening by creating a spiral garden. When it comes to raised garden bed ideas & designs, spiral herb gardens are all the rage, but you can plant anything with this gradually raised bed planting technique. The spiral garden has eye-catching appeal and is a great space saver.
U- Shaped Raised Beds
Placing your raised beds in a u-shape is excellent for accessibility and efficient use of growing space. It creates a center pathway and provides lots of growing space.
Pallet Raised Beds
Short on materials? Use untreated wood pallets to build your garden beds. Most pallets are treated in some way for preservation and pest control, either by heat treatment, pesticide, or antifungal treatments. Before using any pallets for your edible garden, take a close look to see how the pallet was treated. Look for pallets that have been heat treated.
Tiered Raised Beds
Create a raised garden bed that has more than one level. Tiered garden beds use a graduated planting system where the top planting areas have deeper soil for deeper rooting vegetables. The subsequent lower tiers can grow lettuces and annuals that shallower root systems. They can look like stairs, can be conveniently corner-shaped, pagoda-shaped, or in graduated boxes.
Keyhole Raised Bed
Keyhole gardens are traditionally higher in elevation, so there is no bending required. The gardening technique focuses on sustainability and easy maintenance and has an aperture that creates added accessibility to the garden bed. At the center of a keyhole garden design is a composting trough that adds moisture and nutrients to the surrounding gardens.
Key Considerations and Raised Bed Garden Tips
Now that you have some raised garden bed ideas & designs, there are a few key points to keep in mind when embarking on the raised garden bed journey. These pointers will help you on your way to growing strong and healthy plants that produce large harvests that are safe to consume.
- Select an area of the yard that has full sun conditions.
- Ensure that your design allows you access to your garden beds for harvesting, weeding, and pruning. Raised beds should have at least 2 feet of walking space between them and be no wider than 4 feet across so you can easily reach the middle of the beds.
- Go vertical! Add trellises, connect beds with arched climbing structures and obelisks.
- Use landscaper’s paint to ‘sketch’ out your raised garden beds’ layout before building them.
- Use upcycled materials and reclaimed wood to build your planting beds. Always make sure that you check the source of the wood and make sure it hasn’t been chemically treated as chemicals can leach into your soil, contaminating your crops.
- Avoid pressure-treated wood.
- Make your raised beds nice and deep. Extra soil depth equals freely extending roots as your plants grow and more moisture retention to keep plants adequately hydrated. Raised garden beds should be a minimum of 6 – 12 inches deep.
- We mentioned how raised garden beds could reduce pests. Further, bolster your garden beds by adding hardware cloth at the bottom of the raised garden bed structured to keep out burrowing critters.
- Gardens grow best when there are plenty of pollinators around—plant with the intention to draw beneficial insects to the garden. Pollinators and predatory insects can help keep your plants growing strong and producing.