A raised garden bed is built higher than the surrounding area and is essentially a bottomless container. Used to improve drainage and soil conditions, raised beds hold numerous types of plants, flowers and vegetables---and have been used for centuries. Advancements in frame construction and soil composition make raised-bed gardening easier for backyard gardeners.
Choose a location based on the type of plants you want to include in the raised garden; vegetables require at least six hours of sun per day. Place shade plants where a tree or a building will protect them from direct sunlight. Several garden supply and home improvement stores sell easy-to-build raised beds. Gardeners assemble the pieces and fill them with soil and plants. Build the beds narrow enough for you to reach all parts of the bed. Build the height of the bed based on the type of plants you grow. Plants with shallow roots, such as lettuce, will need less depth than carrots.
A raised bed reduces the significance of the backyard's existing soil. Incorporate good-quality native soil into the raised bed, or use a pre-packaged growing mix, adding the right amount based on the dimensions of your raised bed. A pre-fabricated raised bed makes gardening easier because the manufacturer calculates how much soil to use. In addition, each bag of soil provides coverage information.
A raised bed is less physically demanding for most people because it saves gardeners from having to reach all the way down to the ground. Raised beds reduce soil compaction, making it easier for roots to expand and reach nutrients. They also tend to warm up faster in the spring, and that gives plants in a raised bed a head start over their in-ground counterparts. According to the University of Rhode Island Landscape Horticultural Program, raised beds produce more vegetables per square foot than in-ground plots.
Backyard raised garden beds save families money by allowing them to grow their own vegetables instead of purchasing them at the grocery store. Grow lettuce, potatoes, squash, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and a host of other produce successfully in a raised bed. Save money by growing the more expensive specialty items that drain food budgets, or grow common staples and apply the savings to the purchase of the specialty items. Grow flowers that you would otherwise purchase from a florist.
Raised beds require extra soil that must be purchased or taken from another part of the yard or garden. Some raised beds dry out quicker than in-ground plantings, in particular, under hot and dry conditions. Gardeners may have to break away from traditional planting habits of placing all of their plants in rows---because to make the most of raised beds, they need to space plants closer together. It is not easy to move raised beds, and that makes the backyard space less versatile.