By Tanner Marquardt
University of Minnesota
PRESTON, MN, June 19, 2023 — As you’re gardening this year you may find that you want to change up your garden, or maybe you want something easier to access, consider raised garden beds. Raised garden beds are excellent for people with mobility issues or who struggle to bend to the ground. Raised garden beds can be built to whatever height you need. Raised beds can also be less susceptible to weeds.
Before deciding if a raised bed is right for you, there are a couple of things you need to consider. Due to being above ground, raised beds dry out faster, so they need to be watered more often. The soil also freezes earlier in the fall but warms sooner in the spring. Sunlight is an important thing to consider when trying to decide where to put your garden beds. Your garden beds should be placed where they will get the optimal amount of sunlight, at least eight hours, during the day. In addition to these considerations, cost should also be considered.
Then there is also the decision of what kind of raised bed you want. You can do something as simple as a flat-topped mound of dirt or a supported raised bed with walls to help the raised bed keep its shape and give it a nicer look. The cost to build raised beds will depend on what style you want to build. No matter what you build, you will likely need to buy soil and some building materials. The material you choose to use when building your raised garden bed is also essential; clay or unglazed ceramics will soak up moisture and could freeze and crack during the winter if left outside. You must also be careful that your material doesn’t leak toxic chemicals into your fruit or vegetable garden.
There is also the option of doing a container garden with recycled containers. For example, you could use a cattle tank or just regular pots. Make sure that whatever you choose to use is large enough to support your choice of plants. There are also different plant types that work well in containers, like bush beans can do well in a container because they do not need extra support. No matter what size or shape container you choose, it must have drainage holes at the bottom; without drainage, water in the pot could lead to the roots rotting.
If you have questions about this or any other agriculture, horticulture or natural resources topic please reach out to the Fillmore or Houston County Extension office at (507) 765-3896 or (507) 725-5807.