Raised bed Gardening

Raised bed gardens


As more people move to the cities, the rural zone expands, and farming areas are reduced to a few square meters instead of the vast open landscape that farmers are used to.  What will happen to those who desire to cultivate, even if it is on a small scale? Will their lifelong hobby disappear into the history books, or will something leap from the pages of yesterday and revive their leisure?

There is a renovated way of farming that has kept hundreds of thousands of gardeners happy. This is your guide to discovering the source of their pleasure and exploring the diversity of raised bed gardening.

What is Raised Bed Gardening?

During studies conducted by agriculturalists in the late twentieth century, farming techniques were explored to address problems that home gardeners faced.  These farmers wanted to reduce their dependency on chemicals. Their main concerns were

  1. How to produce healthier crops and eliminate diseases and other secondary residual effects that chemicals have on the human body
  2. How to eliminate the usage of these chemicals and still control weeds and pest infestations
  3. How to reduce climatic effects such as erosion
  4. How to continue gardening in small areas

Raised bed gardening is both a farming science and an art. As a science, it deals with the process of cultivating small plots of land or gardens. Techniques are applied to ensure continued quality while emphasizing organic methods.  Farming processes are implemented from the inception to reduce pests and control weeds, thus maintaining the central practice of prevention is the best treatment.

As an art, raised bed gardening involves the design and creation of raised bed structures, the integration of the created structures into the farming plot, and the creation of supporting structures that will enhance optimum productivity.

Raised beds are elevated structures above the ground or the soil terrain. The beds are designed in different formats that allow for better administration of the cultivation and may be fabricated or traditional. Traditional methods are addressed below under the brief history section and more details on fabricating raised beds are presented in the Design chapter. [1]

Raised bed gardening stands apart from the common home gardens in several aspects, especially related to health care, rentability, and labor input. Here is a summary of the basic benefits of raised bed gardening and why it may be a great fit for you:

  • Natural and Healthy Harvests: Raised gardening produces natural fruits and vegetables moving away from the residual health hazards related to the secondary effects of chemicals popular with standard gardening. By using organic products and biological disease and pest control, harvests are healthier for human consumption.
  • Workless and Reap More: Raised bed gardening is a great time saver and a bank account builder. Due to the natural pest and weed control techniques (See more in chapters x and x), gardeners will save money otherwise spent on fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides. This will remove some stress from your wallet and reduce the cost of production. Raised beds also require less time as there is no need for weed control or extensive irrigation.
  • Soil and Productivity: Raised beds use mostly created soil from compost. This allows for excellent drainage, root development, and plant growth. Raised beds are also efficient where there are slopes and possible soil erosion, helping to deter the rapid flow of water. Unlike most cultivation are that are easily compact when working in the area, raised beds boast free and well-aerated soils.
  • Easy Access: Raised bed gardens remove the aches and pains in bones and muscles since there is no need for inclination, bending, or stooping to work. Beds are created at adequate heights that allow the gardener to perform farming activities without creating added strain to the body.

Possible Cons of Raised bed Gardens

  • The area may not be conducive: Plants need at least 8 hours of sunlight, and some gardens that are planted between fruit trees or lumber trees may not receive enough sunlight.
  • Watering: Proper and timely watering is essential to raised bed gardening. If you are unable to apply water, especially during summer, this could affect the soil due to its high drainage capacity.
  • Slugs and Ants: When the compost is poo and hunting ground.

Most of the problems that occur during the crop cycles can be prevented during the creation and design process of your raised beds. This includes selecting noninfectious material for the raised bed structure, selecting a well-lit plot, and refining the compost used to create the soil.

The History of Raised Bed Gardening 
Although there are new and inspiring formats, designs, and gadgets, raised bed gardening has been around since the medieval era.  The earliest evidence points to the use of animal manure mixed in the upper surfaces of the soil to elevate it above the terrain. The practice became more abundant used in the Roman Empire where extensive gardening was necessary for feeding the huge armies. [2]

During the 18th century, Parisian farmers created raised beds using compost made with a mixture of animal manure and soil. The elevations sometimes reached up to two meters high which proved difficult to manage and irrigate.

However, modern raised bed practices began in the 1970s when beds were created over established mounds in circular forms. The mounds were then filled with manure and supported by rocks or logs to prevent the soil from falling away. The practice was burdensome as the heavy rains would soon wash away the soil taking the plants with it.

Scientists continued to present different practices and sought measures to make raised beds workable during the rainy seasons.  The ideas include land terracing, concrete walls, and medieval logs.

During the 1980s the practice took momentum as the world started looking for green agricultural practices, and funding and grants led to studies and more research.  Two general practices emerged that included organic gardening methods: permaculture and raised bed gardening.

While permaculture dedicated its methods and science to large areas and is based mostly on an integration of the ecosystem, raised bed gardening focused on small areas and uses organic methods to help the ecosystem.

By the mid-1990s several universities, including Oregon State University, were receiving funding for projects related to either of the two strategies. At the same time, farmers lagged in receiving permaculture due to its aggressive approach to animal and plant integration.

Other farmers weren’t prepared to use alternative energy sources which at the time would mean a substantive investment. Even though the goals were obtainable over longer periods most farmers preferred to stay with their current projects. [3]

Raised bed gardening had a different fate. Gardeners were happy to integrate them into existing gardens and eventually fade out, as they begin to enjoy the benefits of raised bed gardening.

Today, raised bed gardening has transformed into an art and science with millions of users worldwide. They share tips, showcase their gardening and boast of their harvest in online communities and support groups.

It has come a long way and it is time to begin your journey. Even if you are a first-time gardener, you will find that this guide will help you get started with your garden. Not sure where to begin? Let’s go design your garden and raised beds.


How to Design Your Raised Bed Garden

Making raised beds has become a creative art, with companies dedicated to the making of established stands in all sizes and shapes. However, you can create your own garden layout using simple design and materials including wood, cardboard, metal, or blocks. This is the art of raised bed creation, some of these techniques have been around for a long time, even dating back to the gardens of Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian empire.

The first step in designing your raised beds is deciding where you plan to farm. Here are some things that you should consider in this predesign process.

  1. How much space do you have available for your garden? Using a measuring device such as a metric tape, or linear measuring cord, calculate the area you wish to designate for your garden. If you already have an existing garden and know the total area, then move on to step two
  2. How much sunlight is available daily? If the plot is well lit with an average of eight hours of sunlight, then this is ideal for raised bed gardens. If trees and shrubs block the sun rays, then you may consider trimming some branches to allow more sunlight to enter.
  3. How is your terrain sloped? If your terrain is generally flat, then you are now ready to start your design. However, if your terrain has an inclination and slopes downward, then you may consider using containerized or supported raised beds.

We are now ready to explore the design of your raised bed gardening.

Tools that you may need: Before we get started be sure to have nearby a notepad, or other blank writing paper, a ruler, a pencil, a pen, and an eraser.

Types and Formats of Raised Beds

Raised bed gardens exist in all types of shapes and sizes. From rectangular boxes to small triangular corners. The types of materials differ as well and gardeners have built structures from lumber, bricks, or even metal. Some are just about 8 inches above the ground while others loom up to 10 feet high. How you make your beds is your taste and desire.

There are three general types of raised beds: raised ground beds supported raised beds and containerized raised beds.  Depending on your agility you may decide which is the best fit.

Raised Ground Beds
This is the easiest type of raised bed and has been in use since the medieval era. Beds are made in elongated mounds about 6 – 8 inches above the soil. They can be elevated using imported compost or soil, or using the soil between the rows. [4]

It is recommended to till the soil, refining it with your hands and short hoe, to remove stones, pieces of wood, weeds, and any other unwanted material that may be present in the soil.

This is especially ideal for gardeners with larger plots who prefer not to go into construction support for their raised beds.

Design: Beds should be elevated about 6 – 8 inches above the ground and about 1.5 – 2 feet wide.  Between each bed, depending on the plant, use an average of 2 feet and a maximum of 3 feet.

Beds can be stretched out to the length of the plot, although 8 – 10 feet is easier to work with. When constructing raised ground beds, be sure to place them across the water flow, in this way they will help to reduce soil erosion or the loss of fertilizers and damage to plant roots.

Tips: If the soil is very loose, be sure to add more compost (See the Chapter on Fertilizers). Place small stones, blocks, or logs alongside raised ground beds if they tend to disintegrate.


  • No added expense for constructing raised bed strictures
  • Higher yield per square meter of land
  • Improved soil protection from floods and other types of erosion
  • Better weed and pest control, as elevated rows provide easy access to the area
  • Reduce infection from soil insects, slugs, and fungi


  • Requires effort to make each elevated row
  • Soil may fall if not well elevated or if it is very loose
  • Not recommended for adults or persons with back-related problems that may be affected by bending


Supported Raised Beds
This type of raised bed is best used for small and medium-sized gardens. The beds are created by building rectangular structures on the ground and then filling them with soil or compost.

Supported raised beds give advantages to the gardener allowing for easy administration, less hassle on bending and watering,

Design: These raised beds are mostly made from cured wood. You can reduce pest infection by securing the material used in building your raised beds. However, you can also use stones, blocks, plastic, or even metal, to build your beds.

Bricks or concrete blocks should be used carefully as they can become hiding ground for ants or slugs and other small pests. If you must use them it is best to leave as little space as possible between them.

Beds are usually rectangular shapes but may be of any shape you desire. Sometimes the plot area may require triangular beds at the corners, to avoid leaving unused areas. They are constructed between 6 -8 feet high with a width of 2 – 4 feet.

Be sure not to exceed 4 feet as most people won’t be able to work easily beyond 2 feet from each side.

Tips: If you wish to elevate your supported raised beds above 8 feet, to reduce bending, it should be of no worry, some specially created beds are even higher. Make sure that it is easy to work from any angle.


  • Very rich and clean soil enables faster growth for plants, and plant roots tend to expand easier.
  • Easy to work, with little or no related muscle or back pain
  • Low weed growth and almost zero pest infestation
  • Watering is fast and requires less than other types of gardens


  • Beds are permanent and cannot be transferred
  • Blocks and bricks may shelter pests and slugs
  • If metal is used, may make the soil extremely hot for seed and plant roots

Containerized Raised Bed
These are mostly prefabricated raised bed structures that are portable and can be custom-made to fit the exact need of the gardener. They have no fit sizes but usually, maintain the 2-4 feet width that allows ease of work.

However, many gardeners are now building them at home and mostly from lumber or plastic. This option is for those who have equipment for carpentry and the knack for arming their rectangular raised beds.

These beds have four supporting feet, although some have wheels attached.

Bed Makers: Some companies build these types of raised beds, you can pre-order based on your area design, or you can shop online for beds ready-made beds.

These beds are ideal for those who plan on moving their gardens during winter or other seasons. These types of containers are easily transferred from one area to another. If your garden gets too little sunlight during any season, you can easily move to a better-lit area.

Tips: If you decide to purchase containerized raised beds, asked for the design manual and make sure that the material has been processed against pests and germs. The manual will also indicate how long before you will need to repeat fumigation for pests and germs.


  • Pest-free material is used to build the structure
  • Fits exactly into the area and leaves no unused space
  • Can be easily moved under hazard conditions, or if so desired
  • Are made to your desired measurement


  • Containerized beds can be costly
  • Some containers may not be suitable for all crops
  • Shipment may setback your starting dates for crops and thus your harvest

Where to Find Made Raised Beds

If you desire to get fabricated raised beds for your gardens, then you can always visit your nearby store or shop online. Most online stores will deliver.

Amazon is an online retail store that offers fabricated raised beds and materials for building raised beds. You can shop for different brands, shapes, and sizes and they will be delivered to your home.

Tip: Read the reviews that other users have left on the brands and types of containers, it will help you decide which is the best fit for your garden.

If you need a specific size and shape, you may need to visit your local carpenter or hardware store.

Home Depot
Home Depot is an international hardware and supply store. There might just be a Home Depot store near you. If so, it is best to drive in and take a direct tour.  They offer standard and ready-made structures for raised bed containers.

Tip: Home Depot operates an online store as well; you can purchase your raised bed containers without leaving your home.

How to Convert an Existing Garden to Raised Beds

If you have an existing garden and would like to switch to raised beds, here is an easy way to do it.  These recommendations take it that you have already decided which type of raised bed structures you will be using.

  1. Harvest: If your crops are close to reaping then it is the perfect moment to start the transformation. Once you have completely harvested your garden, clean and fumigate the area, making sure to eliminate all residues of your former crop. You can integrate these into the soil as a form of mulch.
  2. Gradual Integration: If you have multiple crops, then you will have different reaping periods. Start by converting areas as you harvest. This gradual process will ensure that you benefit from your existing crops.
  3. Implement Raised Beds: Begin the transformation process by installing the raised bed structures that you have elected. Please remember to consider the slope of your terrain and the availability of adequate sunlight.
  4. Plant and Enjoy: As you install each part of your garden, move ahead with planting the area. If left unplanted, weeds and pests may soon infest your raised beds.


Whichever design you choose for your garden, you are now set to take your hobby to another level. Once installed, your raised beds will make it easier to cultivate your plots, regardless of the terrain or size. Your benefits will not only include higher yields but also healthier fruits and vegetables with lower investments. You will save time, work less and discover that your hobby won’t bring aches to muscles and bones as you can now adapt your garden to suit your needs.

Raised bed gardening is ideal for those cultivators with small patches of land, elder gardeners, and those who want to practice an art and science. It is one of the most popular hobbies worldwide and you can always find new ways to showcase your success online.



Compost: Compost is a mixture of organic substances to create fertilizers. The mixture is made of food waste, vegetable waste, and animal manure. Please see the Chapter on fertilizers for more information.

Terrain:  This is the topography or physical features of any land area. Terrain may be flat, sloped, extensive, hilly, rough, dry, etc. Terrain is used most by topographers when measuring land area.

Mulching:  This is an agricultural practice used to improve the quality of soils and control weed growth. Mulching material is applied to the surface of the soil and may be of different types of material including grass, bush, plastic, etc.




  1. Fritz, V., & Rosen, C. (2019, May 15). Raised bed gardens. Extension.umn.edu. https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/raised-bed-gardens
  2. Helmreich, A. L. (2013, June 14). Bed – History of Early American Landscape Design. Heald.nga.gov. https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php/Bed
  3. How to Construct Raised Beds – Raised Deep Bed Growing. (n.d.). Allotment & Gardens. https://www.allotment-garden.org/gardening-information/raised-beds/how-to-construct-raised-beds/
  4. Malin, Z. (2021, January 20). How to plant in raised garden beds, according to experts. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/select/shopping/best-raised-garden-beds-ncna1268061