Raised bed gardens serve an essential purpose in the home landscape. These gardens feature framed planting areas above the normal grade of soil with wooden frames around the garden area. Raised bed gardens increase drainage ability, eliminate compacted soil and increase soil quality by incorporating the use of organic soil additives when making the garden. All these factors allow the gardener to plant a variety of annuals, perennials and vegetables in the raised bed garden. The perfect soil and drainage conditions provide the best environment for optimum plant growth and health.
Choose annuals for the raised bed garden that match the sunlight availability in the area. Annuals add immediate color and function well as border additions to existing gardens. The good growing conditions in a raised bed garden may seriously increase the growth of annual plants, so allow plenty of room for expansion. Choose hardy annuals such as vinca or zinnia for summer-long color. Plant marigolds around the outside of your vegetable garden to add color and protection from damaging insects. Annuals will thrive in the well-drained, rich soil of the raised bed garden.
Raised bed gardens provide a limited, tidy area for vegetable garden planting. The rich soil ensures a successful harvest, as long as plant placement allows plenty of room for growth. Include all the standard favorites such as red lettuce, green beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. Read the labels provided with each plant to determine the best placement. An added benefit of a raised bed garden involves easy placement of fencing to keep out pests. The wood frame provides a stable base to set poles for placement of chicken wire fencing.
Herbs work well in the raised bed garden just as annuals and vegetables do. The increased organic matter in the soil and the looseness of the soil allow plants to spread roots quite readily. Root spread increases the ability to absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil. Herbs can be paired with annuals or vegetables to provide a unique addition to the garden. Place strong-smelling herbs such as sage, chamomile, chives and thyme throughout the garden to repel insects from vegetables. Butterflies and bees also love the flowers on these herbs and will assist in keeping the pests to a minimum.
Perennials offer the gardener a more permanent addition to the raised bed garden. Perennials reappear year after year and form the backbone of a raised garden bed. Add perennials to create a low-maintenance raised garden bed requiring minimal work throughout the growing seasons. Easy-to-grow perennials that will thrive in the raised bed garden include hosta (sun or shade tolerant), butterfly bush (sun) or shasta daisy that provide alternating colors. Choose plants that bloom at different times for constant flowering and color.