Benefits of Raised-Bed Gardening

Raised-bed gardening can reduce back strain because you won’t have to bend over as far to reach the plants. With easier access and less pain potential, you’re better able to enjoy the labor involved in planting, tending, and harvesting vegetables. Build your raised beds so they’re at least 12 inches tall. If the walls are slightly below waist level, you can sit on edges to work the soil and harvest your bounty without having to bend over at all.

The soil in raised beds typically warms earlier in spring than the surrounding earth. It also tends to dry faster, so you can get cool-season crops planted sooner, extending the growing season and your vegetable crop choices.

Raised-bed gardening is the answer if you have sandy or clay soil. Instead of struggling with poor topsoil, all you need to do is fill your raised beds with high-quality topsoil and start gardening. Nutrient-rich soil means fewer struggles for plants and less frustration for the gardener. To keep the soil healthy, continue to feed it with compost and other organic matter.

Once your raised beds are filled with fresh soil, cover the surface with an inch or two of mulch. This reduces weed competition and preserves soil moisture.

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Make Your Garden More Attractive

Set up a series of small raised beds in tidy rows or a pattern and you’ll end up with the most visually appealing vegetable garden on your block.

When selecting raised-bed gardening materials, choose rot-resistant lumber such as cedar or redwood. Or look for other materials, such as brick, stone, or concrete, to create attractive raised beds you won’t need to rebuild. Get the wood look with composite materials.

Raised-bed gardening designs can be attractive landscape features. Dress them up with details that add style to their utilitarian form. For example, give corner posts a cap or paint the wood frames to match your house.
Test Garden Tip: A wide variety of premade post caps is available at your local hardware store or home improvement center. Post caps come in a variety of materials including wood, copper, and glass. Some even have solar lights incorporated.

Include trellises, obelisks, or tuteurs in your raised-bed gardening plans. Buy or build one or two to grow vining crops such as peas, beans, cucumbers, and even tomatoes. The extra height brings visual drama to your plantings, especially if most of what you grow is relatively short.

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