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There are tremendous benefits to gardening in raised beds and there are a huge number of options for buying raised garden beds kits or building your own. You will want to consider several things including the size of your raised garden bed, the amount you’re willing to pay, how high you want your raised beds and how much looks matter in your garden. In this article we break down what to consider when buying or building a raised beds vegetable garden.
If you’re looking for more information about gardening in raised beds, check out this article:
Should you Buy Raised Garden Beds Kits or Build Your Own?
If you’re planning to garden in raised beds, your first question is whether to buy or how to build your raised bed. There are benefits and negatives to both options. Buying raised beds requires up front material costs so buying raised garden beds kits can sometimes seem too expensive to get started. On the other hand, it’s worth calculating how much the raw materials will cost if you decide to build your own raised bed garden and how much time it will take to build raised garden beds from scratch.
Most raised bed kits are made from wood, metal or plastic, so if you want stone or brick for your bed, you are better off building your own. If you are looking for something easy to put together or want tall raised garden beds you are better off buying a raised bed instead of building it yourself. Both raised garden beds kits and building your own can lead to a beautiful and productive addition to your backyard garden.
Comparison of Best Raised Garden Beds Kit
Take a look at the bet raised garden beds for sale in the table below. You can also scroll down for a review of each bed below.
Raised Garden Beds Kits
Raised Cedar Box
Attractive and at waist height
White Vinyl Raised Bed
You get 2 boxes about 4x4 feet
Metal Raised Bed
Galvanized Metal Plate
A Large Raised Garden bed
Tiered Raised Garden Bed
Solid Fir Wood
3 Tiered wooden garden bed
Deep Cedar Raised Bed
This raised bed is deep for root growth
Best Materials for Your Raised Garden Beds
While most raised garden beds kits come in plastic, metal and wood, you can build your own raised garden beds with any material you have at your home. Below are some of the common materials used in raised beds and some of the pros and cons of each type of material.
Metal Raised Beds: These garden beds are attractive and sleek looking but there are several pros and cons of metal raised garden beds. You can build or buy a galvanized raised garden bed with sheets of metal or you can repurpose a metal container such as an animal feed or water trough.
There is some concern that the metal heats up too much and can impact your plants, but you can help offset this or any drying out of the soil by creating a self watering raised bed or just watering frequently. Steel raised garden beds are considered safe and while they will eventually rust, they are made to last in the elements.
Wooden Raised Beds: Wood is a very popular option for building or buying raised garden beds. It’s easy to find and work with, easy to repair, natural and can be inexpensive. We’ve build several of our own raised beds with wood. Some with cut lumber and others with fallen or cut trees. Wood is also a good option if you are purchasing raised garden beds kits and want an attractive looking garden bed.
If you are building with wood, you should choose something that resists rot such as hardwoods. We prefer not to seal our wood in our raised beds, so it is best to use wood that will last. Most wood in raised garden beds kits will be rot resistant, but it is worth double checking.
Brick, Concrete and Cinder Block Raised Beds: If you are building your own raised garden beds, you may want to consider brick or cinder blocks. You can purchase many of these is attractive shapes and they are sturdy and will last for years. If you are building tall raised garden beds, you will need to use mortar to hold these in place, but otherwise you can simply place them where you want them and fill the center with soil.
Like other man made product there is concern that heavy metals will leach out of the concrete into your garden (specifically Fly ash that contains radium and arsenic). There is not a lot of evidence that this actually sinks into the soil but it may be a concern. Like metal, stone heats up and can cause your garden to dry out, so you will want to have a good watering system in place. Raised cinder block garden beds can be a great option for you garden beds.
Plastic Raised Garden Bed: If you are buying raised garden beds kits, you will likely see options for plastic beds. These can be inexpensive and long lasting options and with the more modern composites, it’s sometime hard to tell the sides are even made from plastic. As a man made product, plastic does pose some questions around safety, but since we eat and cook off plastic all the time, using the plastic as a gardening edge is unlikely to cause any problems.
Other Materials for Your Raised Beds
- Stone Raised Beds – you can use any stones around your property to build raised beds. Similar to concrete, these can heat up but also make a beautiful raised garden bed
- Nothing – You can create beautiful raised row gardening beds by simple mounding soil into the center of the garden bed.
- DON’T use railroad ties, treated lumber, old tires, or other miscellaneous items
The Best Raised Garden Beds Kits
This raised bed is waist height and makes for easy management of your garden. It is made of heavy duty cedar wood. It is sold from Boldly Growing store which has several other similar options in different size raised garden beds kits. The planter is easy to assemble and you can purchase more than one and group together if you need more growing space.
This sleek looking raised garden beds kit comes in a set of 2 – 4×4 boxes. It is very easy to assemble (takes under 10 minutes). Since it is vinyl, it will last for years. It’s helpful to secure the corners to the ground if possible to keep the box from shifting.
This is a large metal raised bed – 113″D x 47″W x 12″H. This is another easy to assemble raised bed and once you have it unwrapped, it should take about 15-20 minutes to assemble. A few of these garden beds placed side by side will make a wonderful garden.
This raised garden beds kit offered 3 different growing areas. It is perfect for placing against a building or a fence or on a patio and you can mix up the plants in the different layers. The assembly is a bit more difficult compared to the metal and plastic planters.
This is a heavy duty cedar bed that is deep to encourage root growth. This is a good option if you have heavy clay soil that will prove challenging to deep root growth.
Where to Put Your Raised Garden Beds Kit
Once you’ve purchased your raised garden beds kit or purchased the materials to build your own you will need to decide where to assemble and set up your garden. Ideally you should select a part of your yard that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. Most vegetables and fruits need full sun to produce. If you don’t have a spot that gets this much sun, select the part of your yard that gets the most sun. You may want to choose crops that will manage well with less sun (leafy greens and some herbs can be good options).
Next you will want a level spot for your raised bed. If you are building your own beds, you can adjust your beds to the slope, but otherwise, you will need to a flat space. You can level your yard or some of the beds can be placed on a patio or deck. If you are putting a raised bed directly on the ground, you should expect some of the soil to come out on the bottom – keep this in mind when placing your garden bed.
You should also consider how you will tend your raise bed – you will need to hand water or set up an irrigation system to keep your plants happy. You may want to keep your raised bed close to the house to make watering and tending easier and want to make sure you are able to access your bed with a wheelbarrow to fill it with soil. If you have several raised bed, place them 3 feet apart to make it easy to manage.
Best Soil for Raised Beds
Adding soil to your raised bed can get expensive, especially if you are purchasing bags of soil from the garden center. For small garden beds this is feasible, but if you have a large bed, it will take a lot of bags to fill up. One of the benefits of raised beds is that you can improve your soil, especially if your yard has heavy clay soil. The best soil for raised beds will be rich in organic matter, drain well, and have some minerals found in top soil.
Many garden centers will deliver soil by the yard. If they have the option, we like to purchase a 50:50 mix of compost and topsoil. It’s worth asking more about the soil since we’ve had some soil that has bits of plastic when it’s delivered. We’ve also purchase topsoil in the past that has lots of weed seeds so it is best to ask a few questions when you are ordering soil. If you are wondering at what’s in the soil, you can always send out a sample to get tested, or purchase an at home soil test kit.
If a mix is not an option, you can also purchase topsoil and then add some bags of compost. Topping off your garden soil with a few inches of mulch will help with water retention and help build up your soils health over time.
Another option if you are looking to add soil and don’t want to spend more money on your raised bed, is to use materials you have at home. You can move soil from around your property, or add some layer of organic material into your bed such as grass clippings and leaves. If you are using this method you will want to let your garden sit for a few months at least before you plant. Ideally you can build your bed in the fall and plant in the spring.
Build Your Own Raised Bed
If you decide to build your own raised bed, there are several methods depending on the materials you select. If you are using stones or concrete planters, you can simply stack them up. If you are building with wood or metal, you will need to screw the corners together or add brackets to the corners. There are many specific designs for building garden beds if you do a quick search online. Unless you have a very high raised bed, you will want to anchor your raised bed to the soil to keep it from shifting and to keep the soil from coming out the bottom.
You can do this with rebar, stakes, or even large sticks from around your yard. Put one at each of the corners to keep the raised garden bed from shifting.
Using raised garden beds are a great way to improve your backyard garden – if you’re looking for more gardening ideas, make sure to check out the gardening link in the menu above!