Friday, March 13, 2009

To Raise or Not to Raise: The Pros and Cons to Raised Beds

You've probably seen raised beds around your neighborhood, and possibly wondered what are the advantages of those. Well raise beds have been around for quite some time. In fact, some cultures have been using raise beds for centuries. In the US, raised bed gardens have become more popular in the last decade or so.

Of course nothing in life is perfect and everything has its pros and cons. So here is a little list of pros and cons to help you make your decision.

1. If you have poor soil a raised bed allows you to prepare your own soil and ensure that it is rich so that your plants will thrive.

2. Additionally since you add the soil, you can prepare special beds of soil or tailor your beds to specific plants.

3. The raised level makes it much harder for creeping grasses to make their way into your garden plot.

4. The raised level also makes it easier to access them and will hopefully limit your fatigue as a gardner from bending over.

5. Also through successful planning you can keep the garden narrow enough to allow you to reach the plants on both sides of the bed.

6. The raised beds are ideal for tuber plants or plants with longer root systems and need several inches of quality soil.

7. In heavy rains, there is less chance of soil erosion and root rot.

8. You can easily organize plants and put them in specific beds that are developed to their needs.

9. Some plants can be started earlier due to the fact that the raised beds warm up faster than the ground.

10. Raised beds can be ideal for elderly or disabled gardeners who are unable to reach all the way down to the ground (Raised beds can be constructed to almost any height to meet the needs of the gardener).

1. Any tilling of the soil needs to be done by hand. Since it will be difficult to nigh impossible to use a rotary tiller in a raised bed garden.

2. Raised beds have the tendency to dry out quickly in very dry climates. Hence, it is necessary to water the beds more often than you normally would.

3. Raised beds have a greater intial cost associated with the construction of the beds compared to simply tilling a traditional garden into your soil. However, there are some raised bed gardening kits that can be purchased for a relatively inexpensive price online.

4. The edges of a raised bed garden must be reinforced and constructed very well, or they may start to come apart as time goes on.

5. The materials for the construction of the raised beds should be carefully considered. Treated wood or railroad ties covered with creosote should not be used. The chemicals in the wood will leak out into the soil, poisioning your plants and you.

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