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Why Raised Beds?

By Cassandra Truax

Three Ways Raised Bed Gardening Makes Life Easier

Why garden with a raised bed?

Let me answer that question with another question. Why not? I started my first raised bed garden out of desperation. I live on the Mogollon rim in Northeaster Arizona. Translate: Mogollon rim to rock cliff. When I first moved here, I painstakingly sifted a tiny bit of dirt from rock and planted in containers. The pine forest soil is so poor, that even with ample fertilizer, my plants were stunted. I had heard of square foot gardening, and decided to give it a try. After the first rasied bed season, I asked myself, “Why didn’t I do this before?”.

1) Lessen or Eliminate Bending and Kneeling

Creating a raised bed garden gives you, the gardener, ultimate control. You control the height of the bed. So, if you have trouble bending over or working on your knees, make the bed a comfortable height for yourself. However, it’s my personal belief that a raised bed doesn’t “need” to be any taller than 18 inches.

2) Weeds Be Gone

Your backyard soil has probably decades of weed seeds just waiting for the right conditions to sprout. This is especially true if you live in the arid southwest as I do. Add water, and you’ve got weeds up the whazoo.

By filling a raised bed with everything but your native soil (or maybe just a little), weeds are a thing of the past. This was an unexpected but very pleasant surprise with my first raised bed garden. No weeds.

Any weeds that do happen to sprout are easily plucked from the soft, airy soil. The soil mix I use is basically coir (peat substitute), compost, and vermiculite. Then I add other stuff I have around that’s handy, maybe some sifted soil, pine bark mulch, horse manure, or charcoal.

3) High Density Planting Uses Less Space

Thanks to the wonderful soil mix used in raised beds, you can get more yield from a smaller space. This benefit is two fold. One, the plants can be closer in physical proximity because of the readily available moisture and nutrients. Two, the plants will produce more because of readily available soil and nutrients.


There’s so much more to be said about the benefits of raised bed gardens, but I’ll save it for future posts. For more information on creating a soil mix, see my article: “Soil Mix for Raised Bed Gardens

What’s your favorite part of raised bed gardening?

Cassandra Truax is a naturalist who lives in the White Mountains of Arizona. She writes about organic raised bed gardening at .

Written by Compost Guy on February 3rd, 2010 with 1 comment.
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#1. November 23rd, 2012, at 1:13 PM.

I note a few other items missing in your recomendations for raised beds…. you are correct in noting the ease of use when raised above grade, yes you can control the mix… if you want more acidic or sweeter soil conditions for different plantings just alter the mix accordingly. They also help to conserve water.
but to us who live even farther north?.. raised beds heat up faster in the spring … giving us a slightly better/earlier start…. and if you employ a simple hoop house system you can grow in feb/ march with cooler crops when their is still snow on the ground. Hoop house actually require venting they get so warm in the winter….

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