For gardeners who want to maximize their outdoor spaces and reap all the rewards of growing their own produce, raised vegetable gardens are a great solution. Have you been considering starting your own raised vegetable garden but need some inspiration on where to begin? Check out these raised vegetable garden ideas and get started today!
Benefits of a Raised Vegetable Garden
With this unique style of gardening, you can control soil quality, prevent weed growth and pests, use less water and work smarter – not harder! Raised vegetable garden ideas provide endless possibilities for creating an efficient space that will encourage your plants to thrive.
Not only do they offer improved performance, raised beds can also be much easier to work with than a traditional vegetable patch. As the beds are raised off the ground, they’re easier to access and maintain. This means less bending over and digging which can help reduce aches and pains in your back and knees.
Types of Raised Vegetable Beds
When it comes to installing raised beds in your garden, you really have two options; buy ready-made kits, or make your own.
Which is right for you will depend on your budget, the space you want to use for growing produce and your attitude towards buying new vs. the DIY approach.
With a range of materials, shapes and sizes to consider, it’s easy to get confused. As a starting point just make a list of what you’re hoping to grow and then think about things like the following:
- The depth of soil will you need
- Your view on using wood treatments / organic gardening
- How many beds do you think you’ll need
- How quickly do you want to get growing
- Whether you have any weight restrictions – e.g. on a balcony or decked area
- Logistics of how you’ll get the materials to your outdoor space
- How much maintenance you’re prepared to do
- Whether you want a permanent solution or something you could move or store away later
To start off, let’s have a look at some of the ready-made options…
Pre-Made Raised Bed Kits
Timber Raised Bed Kits
There are many shapes and sizes of timber raised bed kits out there, pre-cut into manageable pieces and usually made from pressure-treated timber. These are a great option if budget is no issue and you want something quick, that’ll look neat.
Composite Raised Bed Kits
These are becoming very popular these days as a nifty alternative to timber kits. Composite beds are generally made from recycled plastic and offer a fantastic eco-friendly way to grow organic fruit and vegetables. They’re lighter than wood – and so easier to work with. They’re also much more durable than timber, requiring less maintenance. Besides that, you don’t have to worry about wood preserver leaching into the soil!
Steel Raised Bed Kits
Steel pre-made raised beds are another great alternative to traditional timber designs. They have a much slimmer profile than other types, made from tough, powder-coated steel which can be as thin as 0.5mm. This might be of particular interest if you’re very short on space and every little bit counts. They’re also a lightweight option and very easy to install.
Raised Trough / VegTrugs
These kinds of raised beds are ideal for the urban garden or even on balcony and patio areas. You’re probably not going to grow large volumes with these, but they’re perfect for those who want a portable and highly versatile solution. They’re much neater than traditional raised beds – standing on legs and usually made of composite or pre-painted wood. You can even buy transparent cloche attachments for some models, which effectively gives you a miniature greenhouse of sorts.
DIY Raised Vegetable Bed Ideas
For those of us who are feeling a bit more adventurous or have a specific design idea in mind, building your own raised vegetable bed is always an option. With so many different materials and sizes available, you can make the perfect bed for your garden spaces.
Raised beds don’t have to be complicated. If you’re looking to save money, you can always repurpose materials such as old pallets or wooden crates. The possibilities are practically endless when it comes to customizing your vegetable garden.
Here are some materials and design ideas you might try…
Gravel Board/Cinder Block Raised Bed
This is a great option for those who have limited space or are looking for a simple, yet effective design. All you need to do is cut the gravel board and cinder block pieces to fit around your garden area – and stack them up to create raised beds. Be sure to use silicone sealant between the blocks for extra stability.
Brick Raised Bed
You can use any type of brick or block to construct a raised bed, from clay and concrete to stone, granite or even reclaimed bricks. You just need to make sure that your structure is sturdy and level – and placing some sand or fine gravel at the base before you start building is a smart move.
Log Raised Bed
Using recycled logs to make raised beds is another great option. Choose logs that are free of rot and pests, and use long nails or screws to fix them together. Be sure to space the posts evenly and seal the connections with silicone sealant if necessary.
Wooden sleepers are a great way to create raised beds, as they’re easy to work with and provide a neat finish. You just need to make sure that your sleepers are made from treated wood so they can withstand the elements. Again, make sure they’re spaced evenly and use silicone sealant at the joints for extra stability.
Plastic Tubs and Storage Boxes
If you’re looking for a cheap, quick and easy option, plastic tubs and storage boxes are an excellent choice. This option is not about going out and buying new. But, if you or someone you know has some old plastic containers laying around, then why not put them to good use? If they’re a bit tatty or even damaged, you could simply line them with a weed barrier material to prevent any soil from leaking out.
Used Sinks or Baths
If you’re willing to get creative and do some salvaging, then why not try repurposing used sinks or baths? These can make great raised beds – all you need to do is ensure that any drain holes are covered enough to avoid soil leakage. Again, you could also line with weed barrier fabric before use.
And the List Goes On…
As you can see, there’s no end to the number of different ways you could create raised beds for garden veggies.
If you’re particularly thrifty and don’t mind thinking outside the box (no pun intended!), you might be interested in this YouTube video that I found…
Some Frequently Asked Questions
How Deep Does a Raised Vegetable Bed Need to be?
For most vegetables, a depth of 6-8 inches is ideal. However, root crops such as carrots and potatoes may require up to 12 inches of soil depth.
What Vegetables Could I Grow in a Raised Bed?
Almost any vegetable could be grown in a raised bed, including tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, peas and more. However, some vegetables – such as squash and melons – may require more space than a typical raised bed can provide.
How Often Should I Water My Vegetable Beds?
This depends on the type of vegetables you are growing and the weather conditions. Generally speaking, vegetables need about 1-2 inches of water per week (or about 2-4 gallons of water for every 10 square feet of the garden). If the soil is dry to the touch, it’s time to give your plants a good drink.
Is Raised Bed Gardening Better?
Raised bed gardening has a lot of benefits. It helps improve drainage, makes it easier for you to keep weeds and pests away, and can help create a more hospitable environment for your plants. Ultimately, however, the success of your garden will depend on how well you tend to it – regardless of whether or not you use raised beds!
What Can I Use to Fill My Raised Beds in the UK?
Most gardeners use a combination of topsoil, compost and well-rotted manure to fill their raised beds. You can also opt for a soil-less medium such as coconut coir or peat moss if you wish. Whatever you choose, make sure that your chosen soil has good drainage properties and is free from weeds and pests.
What Should I Put in the Bottom of a Raised Bed?
In the bottom of your raised bed, you could add a layer of gravel or stones to help with drainage. You will also want to line the bed with weed barrier material before adding in the soil mixture. This will help keep weeds from taking over and make it easier for your vegetables to take off!
Many plants will be quite happy in around 25cm of soil. Therefore, if your raised beds are particularly deep you could also fill the bottom with some sharp sand before adding your soil mixture at the top.
What Materials Are Best For Raised Vegetable Beds?
The best materials for raised beds are those that are durable, non-toxic and rot-resistant. The most commonly used materials are wood, brick, stone and concrete. However, there’s rising popularity for composite (recycled plastic) and steel options. These materials are often cheap, eco-friendly, durable and lightweight.
Do I Need to Line My Raised Vegetable Bed With Anything?
It depends on the material you’re using. If you’re using wood or any other porous material, or if your design has holes or crevices, then it’s a good idea to line your raised bed with weed barrier fabric to prevent soil loss.
Raised vegetable beds are a great way to grow your own produce. They make vegetable gardening easier through easy control over the soil and drainage, reduced weeds and pests and easy access with less bending or kneeling.
They can be used in almost any space and there are many different ways you can create them, from using recycled materials to pre-made kits. So, get creative and have fun! With proper care, you can be sure that your raised bed will yield a healthy harvest for years to come. Enjoy!
What’s growing in your raised vegetable beds? Did you buy a kit or make your own? Let us know in the comments!