Shrubs & Hedges
Starting a Raised Garden Bed: Planting Guide
Thinking about starting a raised garden bed this summer? We’ve laid out our top tips for planting and maintaining one. Plus, we’re sharing the best plants to grow in your raised bed. Keep reading for an entire raised garden bed breakdown!
What’s the Point of a Raised Garden Bed?
Unlike gardens in the ground, a raised garden bed gives you better control over the soil quality and drainage, weed infestations, and more! Experienced gardeners often opt for raised beds because above-ground soil is warmer. Warm soil protects plant roots and allows for earlier planting than in-ground gardens.
Raised beds also help you avoid back strain–they’re higher up, so there’s less reaching and bending down. We discuss more top advantages for starting a raised garden bed below.
Raised Bed vs. Garden Bed
While we love traditional garden beds and landscapes, we also believe you can’t go wrong with a raised garden bed. Not only are they easier to grow and maintain, but they can also offer higher yields and fewer weeds in the long run. Let’s explore these perks in a bit more detail.
Easier to Grow
With a raised garden bed, you start fresh with your ideal soil blend. Higher-quality soil gives you a more productive garden with better drainage.
A raised garden bed also allows you to grow almost anywhere. Do you have limited space? With this type of garden, you can set plants closer together, making it a great choice for those with little-to-no yard.
And since every square inch is productive in a raised garden bed, you’ll find your plants don’t need a lot of space between rows. A raised garden offers higher yields and prolongs the overall growing season (warmer soil, remember?).
Furthermore, by growing more plants in a smaller space, you’ll use less water for irrigation–meaning less maintenance for you.
Fewer Weeds, Pests, and Contaminants
Raised beds solve common soil problems that lead to more issues that impact plant growth. By contrast to traditional garden beds, raised garden beds:
- Contain more nutrients and organic matter from curated soil
- Are less prone to contamination
- More easily avoid soil-borne diseases, pests, and weed seeds
In addition, a variety of plants like herbs, veggies, and fruit can be grown together in raised beds. This biodiversity can help replenish nutrients in the soil and repel unwanted visitors.
Setting Up Your DIY Raised Garden Bed
Let’s talk about some important planting and care considerations when setting up a raised garden bed so you can create your own!
(Curious about how to actually build your own raised garden bed? Check out the video below to learn how to construct a DIY raised bed planter box.)
Should You Line the Bottom of Your Raised Bed?
Does your raised garden bed need to have a bottom liner? While there’s many ways to go about preparing your planter box, we recommend lining the bottom of your raised bed with hardware cloth.
Hardware cloth is a mesh wire fencing material made from strong galvanized metal. It won’t rust and disintegrate like chicken wire does. Rodents can’t chew through it, making hardware cloth the ideal material for lining garden beds.
Choosing Raised Bed Soil
When it comes to the soil for your raised garden bed, we suggest using organic raised bed soil. It drains well and is already pH-balanced for optimal growth.
How deep should your raised garden bed be? Typically, most raised beds will do fine with a depth of 10-12 inches. Measure your planter box’s dimensions and plug them into the equation below to determine how many cubic feet of soil you’ll need.
Length (ft.) x Width (ft.) x Depth (ft.) = Total Soil Required (ft.³)
What to Plant in a Raised Garden Bed
Need some inspiration for your new planting adventure? We’ve handpicked some unique herbs, flowering shrubs, and fruits that will thrive in your first raised garden bed. You can also get these plants delivered to your door by clicking on each link!
The Nikko Blue is a popular mop-head hydrangea that blooms with massive, sapphire flower clusters. In the summer, it’ll deliver a stunning show of color like you've never seen. Depending on the soil acidity, it can also bloom in pink. With the complete control a raised garden bed offers, you can easily adjust the soil to enjoy either color.
Sweet fragrance and brilliant color is what sets the Hidcote Lavender Plant apart. Also known as English Lavender, this plant grows compactly and provides an abundance of vibrant flowers–perfect for planting in small spaces (like a lovely raised bed!).
The Tuscan Blue Rosemary Plant is an excellent choice for livening up your raised garden bed. Aromatic, sturdy, and low maintenance, this rosemary will also bring pollinators galore to your space. It grows well with other plants and herbs, and many use rosemary in their cooking or to sweeten their home’s smell.
Enjoy homegrown berries without the prickles of thorns! The Triple Crown Thornless Blackberry Bush was bred to provide a harvest of easy-to-pick blackberries in the summer. These berries are also sweeter, and you’ll notice they have smaller seeds. Because they need well-drained soil, they’re perfect for raised bed gardens.
We love planting Heritage Raspberry Bushes in raised garden beds because they produce delicious berries during a longer-than-average fruiting season. Plus, this plant offers strong disease and drought resistance, so you’ll get tons of fruit without harsh chemical pesticides or non-stop watering.
The Limequat Citrus Tree is a cross between a Key Lime and a Kumquat tree. Limequats are small, yellow-green fruits about the size of kumquats. They’re sweeter than limes, but they have that distinct citrus flavor. More cold-hardy than other citrus plants, this small tree thrives in raised garden beds, and it’ll start giving you fruit only a few seasons after planting. It makes another great raised bed option!
Raised Garden Bed Maintenance
While caring for a raised garden bed is fairly low maintenance, here’s a few tips for keeping it healthy and productive:
- Once you’ve chosen your plants and desired soil combination, consider each plant’s growing habits, how you want to position them, and what time of year it is before you get planting.
- Now that your garden plan is ready, begin filling your planter box with soil. Add a layer of mulch to help regulate the soil temperature and moisture levels. For best results, spread a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of your plants after placement and pat it down lightly.
- While raised beds require less water due to their compact nature, you’ll still want to water your plants regularly. When you water, take time to also spot and pull any weeds. If you catch them early, weeds are usually much easier to pull from raised beds (versus in-ground gardens).
- We also recommend nurturing your soil with finished compost or fertilizer, so your plants can grow to their fullest potential. Be sure to do this early in the planting process and each month thereafter to maintain a healthy raised garden bed.
- Depending on your plant selection, you may find the need to prune or trim your plants occasionally to promote new blooms and a longer growth period.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy It!
We hope this raised garden bed planting guide has inspired you to grow something extra special this summer. From fruits and flowers to herbs and shrubs, the sky's the limit with a raised bed!
To explore some other planting options this growing season, you can shop our entire collection here.
Pssst! We’d love to see how your raised garden bed turns out, so be sure to tag @FastGrowingTrees on Instagram and Facebook so we can re-share on social media!