Raised Garden Bed Buying Guide
A raised garden bed is the perfect way to start growing lots of fresh vegetables and flowers right in your own back yard. There are many ready-made kits available that are easy and quick to assemble, even for those that have no experience with tools. The many different varieties each have their own characteristics that make them unique, and you can use this guide to decide which one is best for you.
Be sure to check out the feature comparison chart for all of the top rated raised garden bed kits and the in-depth reviews for each model. Click the images on each product to go to the review page where you will find the best and worst features of each raised bed, so you can choose the one that is perfect for your home. There are also price comparisons at the bottom of the review pages to help you find the best price across the web.
Top Raised Garden Beds Comparison(RATINGS KEY: 1=lowest to 5=highest) ( PRICES KEY: $= $99 or less, $$= $100 to $199, $$$= $200 and above )
|Product Model||Lifetime 60054 Raised Garden Bed||Gronomics REGB 24-48 Elevated Garden Bed||Greenes Tiered Cedar Raised Garden Bed||Greenes 4x8 Cedar Raised Garden Bed|
|Planting Depth||9 in. / 18 in. stacked||9 in.||7 in./ 14 in. / 21 in.||10.5 in.|
|Construction Material||Polyethylene Plastic||Cedar Wood||Cedar Wood||Cedar Wood|
|Warranty||5 Years||5 Years||None||None|
|In-Depth Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review||Read Full Review|
|Width/Length||4 ft. x 4 ft.||2 ft. x 4 ft. x 32 in. High||4 ft. x 4 ft.||4 ft. x 8 ft.|
|Soil Capacity||12 cu. ft, / 24 cu. ft stacked||5.4 cubic. ft.||27 cubic ft.||28 cubic ft.|
There are many different materials that can be used to build a raised garden bed, but most of the kits available for sale are constructed of either plastic or wood. Both work really well, but each one has its own advantages that may make it more ideal for your home.
Cedar wood is the most commonly used construction material used for raised garden bed kits. Cedar is perfect for raised garden beds because it is naturally resistant to both rotting and insects. It is also one of the cheapest materials available, making it a good option for those with a limited budget. When it’s new, cedar wood is red-orange in color, but with age it takes on a weathered gray hue. Due to it’s resistance to rot, cedar will last for many years out in the elements and there are special oils that can be applied to the wood to further increase it’s lifespan. There are many factors that will control how long the wood lasts such as climate, watering habits, rainfall, and the thickness of the wood, and just like any other natural construction material it won’t last forever. On average you can expect to get 8-15 years of use before it needs to be replaced.
Another popular material used in the construction of raised garden beds is plastic. Special high-density polyethylene plastic to be exact. Most is UV protected, so it will never crack, or peel from long term exposure to the sun. It will also never rot or be infested with insects. Many of the plastic garden beds are made to have the appearance of wood, which really makes them visually appealing. Plastic is very durable and will pretty much last forever, but is slightly more expensive than the wood garden beds. If you’re looking for something that will hold up well for many years and don’t mind paying a little more, a plastic raised garden bed kit might be a good option.
Raised or Elevated Garden Bed?
Raised garden beds sit on top of the ground and are basically four walls ranging anywhere from 6-20 inches high with a completely open bottom. A weed cloth can be used on the bottom to prevent weeds and pests from getting to your plants or the bottom can be left open to allow for extra growing depth and access for beneficial earthworms. They can be placed anywhere in the yard, but due to their open bottom they are not suitable for decks and patios. Generally raised beds have much more planting area, and are more inexpensive than elevated garden beds.
An elevated garden bed has a planter box that is elevated off the ground on either legs or a stand. They range from 2-4 feet in height, which means you can do all of the gardening standing up. They are great for people with back problems, or those that don’t want to do all of the bending over and stooping that is required with standard raised beds. Elevated garden beds can even allow people who are confined to a wheelchair to experience the joys of gardening. Due to the self-contained planter boxes the elevated beds can be place on decks, patios, or anywhere in the yard, giving them great flexibility. Elevated beds are a little more expensive, and generally have less growing area than many standard raised beds but are very easy to care for and maintain.
What size garden bed is right for you?
One of the great things about raised bed gardening is the ability to grow a lot of plants in a small space. It’s great for urban environments with limited space as well as large open yards. Raised beds come in a large variety of shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find one that is right for you.
It’s a good idea to decide where you might want to place your raised bed before purchasing it to make sure its size corresponds to its location.. If for example you are placing one side of the raised bed next to a fence, you will want to make sure it is narrow enough for you reach across to the other side without straining. There are many models that have a 2 foot width in varying lengths which makes accessing both sides very easy. The square 4ft. x 4ft beds also work really well for this purpose. This really comes in handy when pruning, weeding, or harvesting. If you’re plan is to have multiple raised beds arranged together in the same area, make sure to leave ample room (3 feet or so) around each side.
There are many different options when it comes to the depth of a raised garden bed. For many plants to grow, all you really need is about 6 inches of soil. While that is more than enough for the root structure of many plants, it is not ideal for many others. You’ll have to decide what you intend to grow to be able to make the best decision. The more room you have for the roots of the plants to spread out, the bigger and more productive the plants will be. Root crops such as carrots, potatoes, and onions require a much deeper soil to grow. Deeper soil is very beneficial in hot and dry areas due to its ability to retain water longer and not dry out. On the other hand a more shallow depth can be great in colder areas because it will warm faster and unfreeze sooner after Winter to allow for earlier Spring planting. Most of the raised bed models feature a standard depth of 6 to 10 inches. Some models allow for two of the same type of raised bed to be stacked on top of each other which doubles the growing depth. There are even some raised beds that feature a tiered design that can be used to plant a wide variety of plants with different depth requirements all in the same space.
Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening
Raised bed gardening is one of the easiest ways to get started growing fresh herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Here is a rundown of all the benefits of starting your own raised bed garden.
-Raised beds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it’s easy to find one that fits your home
-Because you add your own choice of high-quality garden soil, plants can thrive even in areas with poor or nutrient deficient soil
-Plants can be spaced closer together than with other traditional gardening methods, which allows a lot to be grown in small spaces
-Raised beds along with the right soil allow for excellent drainage, virtually eliminating over watering
-By putting a weed barrier down before installation, you can eliminate the need to ever weed your garden
-The soil in a raised bed will warm up faster and stay warm longer allowing for earlier Spring planting and later planting into the Fall, greatly extending the growing season in colder climates
-There are many pre-built kits available that allow you to have your complete garden set up and ready for planting in less than 1 hour