When it comes to gardening, many people put off getting started because they think it’s going to be hard, grueling work that will require spending days sourcing materials and doing construction. If this sounds like you, we’ve got good news: we’re going to show you how you can click a few buttons on your computer, then have your garden set up and ready to go ridiculously fast – yes, even before breakfast. (Maybe not before you first cup of matcha though.)
In-Ground vs. Raised Bed Garden Beds
If you’re just getting started, we highly recommend that you not bite off more than you can chew. It took us years to develop our large .5 acre organic, edible landscape, and if we’d tried to do it all on day one, it would have been completely overwhelming–not to mention impossible.
That’s why we recommend new gardeners START SMALL and START NOW. Getting a single raised bed garden up is a great way to get started and begin experiencing gardening success. And every little success energizes you to move forward.
10 reasons that people love raised bed gardens versus in-ground beds
Given the size and slope of our garden, we use mostly in-ground beds, but we do use raised beds whenever possible. Why? Raised beds have some unique characteristics and benefits:
- You can instantly build them right on top of existing turf/lawn or ground.
- If your yard has poor, compacted, or even potentially contaminated soil, raised bed gardens allow you to avoid those problems and start growing immediately.
- They’re visually attractive.
- They help with soil aeration, water retention, and soil compaction.
- They extend your growing season because the soil in raised beds tends to thaw faster in the spring and remain warmer into the fall/winter than in-ground beds.
- They make harvesting easy – no squatting, you just walk around your bed, reaching in to pick goodies.
- Similar to #6, but if you happen to be in a wheelchair, a taller raised bed is essential.
- Space efficiency, e.g. you can let plants tumble out of them, freeing up space in the middle of the bed for other plants (think tumbling tomato varieties, sweet potatoes, bush squash, prostrate rosemary, nasturtiums, etc.).
- Did you realize after the fact that you put your raised bed in a less-than-ideal spot? No problem, you can move it. (Not so with an in-ground bed.)
- If you live in an area with lots of root-chewing varmints like voles or gophers, you can put wire mesh under your raised bed to completely keep those animals from getting in.
FOUR Raised Bed Gardens You Can Put Together In Minutes
Ready to click a few buttons and have raised bed gardens delivered to you in the mail? Here are our top picks:
1. Big Bag Bed OR “Victory 8” Raised Bed Grow Bags
These fabric raised bed gardens require zero assembly – no screw drivers, hammers, etc.. You just open them up and plop them down where you want them, then fill them with soil. They’re also ridiculously inexpensive. Despite their price, they will last for years – some people say up to a decade or more, depending on your climate and the level of abuse you heap on them!
As an added perk, these beds use the same fabric technology as grow bags, so you get really good, dense air-pruned root systems on your plants.
Circle – Get the Big Bag Bed if you want a circular raised bed garden.
- Price: about $35
- Size: 50″ wide x 12″ tall; 13.5 square feet of growing area.
Square or Rectangular – Get the Victory 8 if you want a square or rectangular shaped fabric raised bed garden.
- Price: varies depending on size, but starts at around $30
- Size: range from 2×2 to 4×8; all are 12″ tall
2. Cedar Raised Bed Gardens
If you go the DIY route, do NOT use creosote logs, old rail ties, or treated lumber. These will leach some pretty horrible substances into your soil, and some of those substances may bioaccumulate in the plants you harvest. That defeats the whole purpose of growing your own healthy food!
If you want wood raised bed gardens, we recommend using cedar. The resins in the wood are naturally antimicrobial, meaning it will take many years for microorganisms to decompose them. (This is why Native Americans used cedar and black locust wood to construct their more permanent wooden structures.)
Thankfully, you don’t have to go out in the woods and chop down trees with a stone ax. You can click a button and have an easy-to-assemble cedar raised bed garden delivered to your doorstep. You just have to figure out the style you like and the size you need:
If you like the all-wood look, this “Infinite Cedar” raised garden bed is the choice for you. There are no tools required for assembly: just slide in the rods that hold the lapped corners together.
- Price: about $85 for the smaller one and $110 for the larger one
- Sizes: 3×3 or 3×6 (both offer 11″ depth)
These cedar raised garden beds are slightly taller/deeper at 15″H and offer aluminum corners. Minimal assembly required: just slip the boards into the sturdy aluminum corners and screw them in place.
- Price: about $250
- Size: 96″ L x 24″ W x 15″ H (16 sq ft of growing space)
Same great construction as the other aluminum cornered cedar raised bed garden option, but this one is much larger at 4′ x 12′ x 15″ – offering 48 total square feet of growing space.
- Price: about $400
- Size: 4′ x 12′ x 15″ (48 sq ft of growing space)
3. Aluminum Raised Bed Gardens
If you want a raised garden bed that will outlive you, aluminum raised bed gardens are for you.
Want an aesthetic that’s “urban industrial meets farmyard chic”? This one is for you. The beds are 15″ high but since they come in individual panel and corner pieces, you can put them together into four different shapes/dimensions.
- Price: about $190
- Size: can be set up 4 different ways/dimensions
Can you drill a hole in metal? If so, you’ve got all the skills you need to set up a 33 gallon raised bed using this steel tub. (You need to drill holes for drainage/aeration.)
- Price: about $100
- Size: 42 x 23 x 11 inches
4. Elevated Raised Bed Gardens
What’s taller than a regular raised bed? An elevated raised bed gardens. These look great whether you put them out in the garden or have them on a patio or porch. They’re especially helpful if you’re in a wheelchair or don’t want to have to bend over at all when you’re planting, tending, or harvesting.
This all-cedar elevated raised bed garden is the tallest of the three options at 34″ high. The linked model offers 12 sq ft of growing space.
- Price: about $200
- Dimensions: Multiple sizes to choose from
This V-shaped elevated raised bed allows for deep-rooted plants like tomatoes and peppers to be grown in the middle and shallow-rooted herbs and veggies (like salad greens) to be grown on the outside. Offers 10 sq ft of growing space.
- Price: about $280
- Size: 70″ L x 30″ W x 31 1/2″ H
Final Step: Just Add Soil
Once you’ve picked out the raised bed garden(s) you want, you’ll just need to figure out where to source your garden soil. If you have access to good organic gardening soil/compost already, then you’re all set!
However, if you need to get garden soil, first look at how much soil the bed holds (cubic gallons, feet, or yards), then get the appropriate amount of soil. If you want to order organic garden soil to be delivered to your door, we recommend Black Gold (it’s organic and OMRI listed plus it has excellent customer reviews).
If you’ve already got soil that you want to add a big biological fertility boost to, we highly recommend adding in these worm castings – you’ll be amazed by how much healthier your plants are with the addition of worm castings.
Start Gardening Now!
If you’ve been waiting to start your garden because you needed to borrow your friend’s truck to pick up lumber, borrow your neighbor’s saw to cut your raised bed boards, or get a load of soil delivered from your cousin’s girlfriend’s sister’s mother’s friend’s barista’s organic farm, you no longer have any excuses NOT to start your garden.
You’re just a few clicks away from having your own organic garden, and you can literally have the project completed before breakfast. Get started now!