UP Sprout

Raised Beds versus In-Ground Beds

Green Acre Campus Point Raised Beds Garden planning is not unlike interior decorating; you get to choose the style and shape of your furniture, and arrange everything just the way you like it. One of the things to consider is what kind of bed to use. Here at Urban Plantations, we use both, depending on the particular garden, the preferences of our client, and even the light and soil of each location.

Raised Beds: the Pros

  • Warm up earlier in spring but get cooler in the fall earlier too.
  • Save your back from leaning, hunching and kneeling.
  • Provides structure to the bed, lessening the possibility of erosion.
  • The structure itself separates beds from the pathways. This can help prevent compaction and keep diseases/insects that may be stuck to your shoes from entering to soil.
  • RBs allow more control over the content of the soil because it’s being built from scratch.
  • If native soil is too sandy or clay-y, RB let you ignore these issues.
  • Can hide irrigation tubing in structure.

Raised Beds: the Cons

  • Like any container gardening, it can limit root growth.
  • Limits your access to the garden
  • Startup costs to build / install

In-Ground Beds: the Pros

  • Beds stay temperate with more consistent ground temperatures.
  • Ease of access! You can kneel in the beds and get really close to the plant/soil without being encumbered or obstructed by the structure of a RB.
  • Don’t have to build IGB.
  • IGBs offer less work for those with workable native soil.
  • Easier to till and turn over. Thus more sensible for large-scale gardens and farms.
  • Offer more growing space, especially in odd-shaped areas or spots where wooden boxes do not fit.

In-Ground Beds: the Cons

  • (See the RB pros)

Let’s look at two real-life examples. One of our clients has sandy soil and a relatively shady yard – we built her several raised beds that take advantage of as much light as possible, and allow her to pick leisurely without bending over too much. She has dogs and children that can’t trample the plants sitting safely elevated in wooden beds with custom organic soil. Another one of our clients has a series of IGBs that have had years to mellow and develop decent soil. He saw no reason to build beds that would encumber extra growing space. He prefers as much produce as possible, so we fill the beds with single varieties to maximize his harvest numbers. There’s no right way to do it and no bed is better than another. Like Goldilocks, you’ve got to look around, try some things out, and find out which bed, for you and your garden, is just right. img_7496