I have a small yard, are raised garden beds better than container gardening? Containers are easy to move around on the deck, but I want to grow more.
Here is the problems with raised garden beds in a small area:
- Do you have at least one square foot of space per person in the home?
- Can you purchase good topsoil and compost where you live?
- Do you have the time and skills to build the raised bed, or do you have friends or family that can help you?
- Do you own the land, or do you need permission to build the garden from you landlord if renting?
- Is there sod on the ground?
- Containers can cost quite a bit of money
- They take a bit more attention, as there is a limited amount of soil to hold water and nutrients
If your current planting goals involve plants that require good water drainage, I am sure you know how frustrating it is to have a yard that just won’t cooperate. Some plants can handle the excess water that comes about from being in an area that doesn’t drain properly. In fact, it might just cause them to bloom more lushly. However, other plants don’t cope as well, and it will cause them to die a gruesome, bloated death.
You should always find out about the drainage required for every plant you buy, and make sure that it won’t conflict with any of the areas you are considering planting it in.
The usual method for improving drainage in your garden with raised garden beds involve the following steps:
- creating a border for a small bed,
- adding enough soil and compost to it to raise it above the rest of the yard by at least 5 inches.
- I recommend that you lay down a good organic paper bottom, the add a seedless organic straw (about 4 inches) then add the soil and compost. You’ll be amazed at how good your water drainage will be by this small modification.
If you’re planning to build a raised bed, your prospective area is either on grass or on dirt. For each of these situations, you should build it slightly differently.
Planting your plants in your new area shouldn’t pose much difficulty. It is essentially the same process as your usual planting session. Just be sure that the roots don’t extent too far into the original ground level. The whole point of creating the raised garden beds is to keep the roots out of the soil which saturates easily. Having long roots that extend that far completely destroys the point. But remember, when planting in a raised bed, you still need to ensure that you rotate crops within the raised bed to prevent disease. With container gardening, you can remove the soil, sanitize the container, then place fresh clean compost and soil into the container.
Once you have plants in your new raised garden beds, you’ll notice an immediate improvement over conventional gardens that are in hard or difficult soil. The added soil facilitates better root development. At the same time, evaporation is prevented and decomposition is discouraged. All of these things added together makes for an ideal environment for almost any plant to grow in. So don’t be intimidated by the thought of adjusting the very topography of your yard. It is a simple process as I’m sure you’ve realized, and the long term results are worth every bit of work.
But remember, it is a bit of work. Look at all aspects of your gardening area. Is creating a raised bed better than container Gardening?
For a real small yard or garden, I say no. There is a lot less work in container gardening in the short term and it allows for quite a bit more experimentation. Once you know what you want to grow, and where it will grow best (taking into consideration crop rotation for a raised bed), then consider the time and cost of a raised bed.
We grew in containers for 2 years before we put in our raised garden beds, and that preparation time allowed us to find the best solution for what we wanted to do and kept our costs to a minimum.
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