So what do we mean when we talk about "raised beds?"
To be clear, we're not talking about IKEA's latest line of bunk beds. While that may be obvious, it's been our experience that gardening is frequently riddled with uncertain terminology. This is a common problem in almost any part of life. One person thinks a term means one thing but another thinks it means something totally different. That being said, let's take a minute to explain the differences and similarities between traditional raised garden beds and elevated gardens.
Traditional raised garden beds
In its simplest form, a raised garden bed is soil that has been mounded up to make way for good soil aeration and drainage— this is very beneficial to any plants that will come to find their home in it. These types of garden beds often look like very large gopher mounds.
To take things to the next level, a home gardener may decide to reign in their garden bed by building a frame around. This offers some much needed structural support, not to mention a cleaner look.
These garden frames can be made out of a variety of materials— brick, wood, metal, synthetic building materials, etc. Wooden raised beds tend to be the popular choice, especially cedar boards or any wood that is highly rot-resistant. Here's the bottom line: Traditional raised garden beds are "raised" but usually still sit on top of your existing soil.
When we put a raised garden bed on legs, we like to call it "elevated"
At Sungold Gardens, we are big fans of elevated garden beds and their many benefits. It works just like a traditional raised bed in the way it grows vegetables, fruits, and any flowers you might choose to cultivate at home. But, by raising the garden bed of the ground, it allows us to have a bit more control over where we plant, how we plant, and the general health and success of the garden.
One thing that makes elevated beds such a welcome alternative to traditional raised beds is the fact that growers can choose to plant a myriad of different plant varieties in the same location. Each garden box can contain its own soil, its own seeds, and its own growth patterns. Once you raise it off the ground, it might as well be its own little micro-ecosystem.
Many of our clients and gardeners alike still wonder if elevating our plant beds is actually more beneficial and we believe that, in many instances, it is. That's why we're going to give you six reasons to put your raised garden bed on legs.
1. The drainage in an elevated garden bed is far superior
If your garden soil is waterlogged you will begin to experience compounding problems. Plants will become stunted as they won't be able to access the nutrients needed for thriving. Also, oversaturated soil will attract diseases and the kind of bug life that we'd like to avoid.
Proper drainage in the garden is so fundamental. If you don't have this right, there's little reason to spend the time and money on planting. We have plenty of swamps in Florida without your garden adding to the mix!
Putting your garden bed on legs instantly changes the game in regards to drainage. For one thing, because we have complete control over the soil we use, we can ensure that it has the right ratio of ingredients to promote proper drainage. Additionally, it makes it easier to drill drainage holes in the base of the garden bed. This lets the water flow out easily.
Instead of excess water pooling up around the base of your garden bed, the water falls to the ground and is carried far away–along with your worries about plant disease and infestation.
2. Keeping weeds under control is easier when your garden box is elevated off the ground
Weeds are inevitable. But that doesn't mean managing them has to be a burden. With a solid strategy, the need for weeding can become more of an exception rather than the rule.
In order to get rid of weeds, we need to first understand where they come from.
Weeds generally originate from one of two places: the ground or the air.
By lifting your garden off the ground and up into the air you effectively address both sources simultaneously. Because we can more definitively control what plants are introduced into this micro-ecosystem, weeds are unable to spontaneously take up residence alongside your vegetables.
Undoubtedly, the seeds from various weed plants will still find their way into your garden through the air, from time to time. However, the seeds that normally blow around closer to ground level won't find their way into your elevated garden. So, with regular cultivation and maintenance, weeds simply won't be able to overtake your garden. You may even begin to find plucking the occasional weed therapeutic.
3. You have complete control over the quality of your soil when your planter box is on legs
Getting perfectly balanced soil is no easy task, especially if you're starting from behind with sandy, acidic, native soil. But, you guessed it–when you put your garden bed on legs you have control over your soil's inputs and outputs, not just initially but in an ongoing way. The importance of this can't be understated.
Gardening is often more about tending to your soil than to your plants.
There is a diverse and very active world of microorganisms and fungi beneath the surface of your soil that makes all the magic happen. If you can feed and balance your soil to perfection, you are going to see the results in lush greenery, hearty stalks, fewer diseases, pest resistance, and more.
We teamed up with our friends at Revival Gardening to provide a perfectly balanced soil mix to all of our customers. Their focus on worm castings, micronutrients, and soil balance are what makes the difference.
4. You won't have to bend over as much when your garden is off the ground
Elevated raised beds allow gardeners to place less strain on their body parts when gardening, which makes it a healthier alternative. It's also just more convenient!
Getting "down and dirty" simply doesn't work for everyone, and we think that's okay. Gardening can and should still be a part of your life, even if your mobility is limited.
The best gardens are the ones that are frequently seen and visited. Elevated raised beds are more beneficial for the casual gardener than traditional garden beds. It’s easy to make them aesthetically appealing, and it’s simple to understand how they work. You can see them from a distance and incorporate a visit to your garden on a leisurely stroll around the yard.
5. Pests, animals, and other nuisances that dwell in the ground are less likely to cause problems in raised beds
On top of making the garden easier for you to reach, raising your garden off the ground makes it harder for pests to reach. This acts as an additional layer of natural pest control.
Before resorting to unnatural and/or chemical forms of pest control, we recommend trying everything at your disposal to manage pests organically. By raising your garden up off the ground, you're putting a significant hurdle in the way of a variety of pests and insects that would love to wreak havoc in the garden.
Oftentimes your best "self-defense" option is to run away.
6. Raised soil beds warm more quickly from the sun
This benefit isn't as obvious as some of the others but can't be ignored. "Okay, but why does my garden being warm matter so much?" you might be asking yourself. Good question.
Bioactivity kickstarts your garden
Remember learning in science class about how molecules move faster when they're warmer? Imagine an image of cold water on the left and an image of boiling water on the right. The boiling water looks like a flurry of excitement whereas the cold water looks frozen in time. Soil works similarly.
When the sun rises in the morning and warms the soil, the biology comes alive and gets to work. By elevating your vegetable garden off the ground, your soil is able to warm up faster. As we learned earlier, your soil health impacts your plant health; so, by warming your soil, you're feeding your plants.
Do your garden a favor and give it some legs—it's like feeding it a good cup of coffee in the morning.
Soil temperature can extend (or shorten) your growing season
The other major factor that determines what you can grow, apart from sunlight, is your soil temperature. While we can't control how much sun we get in a day we can influence the soil temperature by elevating the vegetable bed. This way we can cultivate a longer and more efficient season for growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Who doesn't like getting more time in the garden?
Elevating your garden starts by putting it on legs
If you're a beginner at gardening, take your planter box and raise it up. When you invest in cedar wood boards and build your own planter, putting it on legs is not only aesthetically pleasing but is way of protecting that investment. Just as a recap, here are the 6 reasons you should really consider putting your raised garden bed on legs:
- The drainage is far superior
- Keeping weeds under control is easier
- You have complete control over the quality of your soil
- You won't have to bend over as much
- You're less likely to have pesky pest problems
- Raised soil beds warm more quickly from the sun
We believe in this method of gardening so much that our whole business revolves around it
Sungold Gardens creates custom and attractive garden designs that are far superior to anything else on the market. Our elevated garden beds come ready made with custom containers that allow the water irrigation system to work seamlessly with the container and plants. Based out of Orlando, Florida we provide on-location education while maintaining your garden in an ongoing manner. If this sounds like something you would like to learn more about, reach out to us! We'd love to help you elevate your garden.