How low can you go? Raised beds

Joined
Mar 1, 2024
Messages
94
Reaction score
27
Location
A corner lot in Akron, OH
Hardiness Zone
6b
Country
United States
I've seen 12" deep raised beds, 6", and most recently 4". My regular soil seems friendly enough to plants, so I'm less inclined to have super deep beds if I can simply encourage the plants to root in the ground after outgrowing the bed soil. Is this pursuable? Thanks!
 
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Messages
4,320
Reaction score
3,299
Location
Kent
Country
United Kingdom
I really don't see the point in raised beds at all, all the time your soil is good. Even if it's not good soil, you just need to keep adding compost to improve it. A 4'' raised one would especially be a waste of time in my book. I think maybe some people do it because they think it's trendy!
The one time I see raised beds to be beneficial I think is when you get really old and useless like me, and have a hell of a job getting down to the soil - let alone getting up again 😩 -then it would need to be at about waist level :D
Preparing the soil is most important. Dig, break up, rake out to a fine tilth and pop in the seeds!
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
562
Reaction score
348
Location
Western Michigan
Hardiness Zone
6B
Country
United States
The main benefit is the sidewalls define the bed and help make it look nice for the neighbors. I have beds that are anywhere from 4" to 18" tall from the ground around it to the top of the wall. A simple garden edging could do the same thing and not change the height of the garden bed relative to the ground at all.

If I remember your posts, @MamaHawk, you have kids running around the yard. When my kids were little I found it really helped define where the kid could roam and play vs where not to trample the plants. Now my kids are a little bigger so the raised beds keep soccer balls and the like out of them.

I find raised beds work well for my style of gardening but others have very successful veg gardens right in the ground.
 

Meadowlark

No N-P-K Required
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
2,768
Reaction score
2,328
Location
East Texas
Hardiness Zone
old zone 8b/new zone 9a
Country
United States
...I think maybe some people do it because they think it's trendy!
The one time I see raised beds to be beneficial I think is when you get really old and useless like me, and have a hell of a job getting down to the soil - let alone getting up again 😩 -then it would need to be at about waist level :D
My thoughts exactly. You should try something like the Hügelkultur containers I make. Portable, easy height to work and harvest, and arguably the best way to grow leafy veggies that I have ever used.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
562
Reaction score
348
Location
Western Michigan
Hardiness Zone
6B
Country
United States
My thoughts exactly. You should try something like the Hügelkultur containers I make. Portable, easy height to work and harvest, and arguably the best way to grow leafy veggies that I have ever used.
Regardless of the size that compost in place / wood core / Hügelkultur filling is the best way to build up a container.

I guess it would fail in something extreme like a 6" flower pot though.
 
Joined
Aug 12, 2023
Messages
18
Reaction score
8
Location
Los Angeles
Country
United States
I'll ask a corollary: is there an upper limit to a raised bed height? I'm comfortable bending down, but I'm probably going to make some anyway, and I may as well make it easy on myself or anyone else who wants to grow short things. I'm thinking like 36" (1m) off the top of my head...
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2024
Messages
94
Reaction score
27
Location
A corner lot in Akron, OH
Hardiness Zone
6b
Country
United States
Thanks everyone! Yes, @Tetters, the main reason I'd seek raised beds are mostly like @Mr_Yan said - boundaries for the baby and any other kids who are around (my rambunctious siblings for example!). It also will, hopefully, help with mowing so my beloved husband doesn't forget where things are :nailbiting: I also really like @Meadowlark 's hugelkultur method, and I'd want some sort of buffer to keep the sticks and dirt together instead of sloughing into the yard (again, mowing). @gdgross I don't know if I'd go that high, though I hadn't thought about how much easier it'd be to not bend down....for my broccoli and such, I'd do that, but for the vertically grown ones like my beans and whatnot, I couldn't go that high...so I suppose I just have to weigh my options!
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
562
Reaction score
348
Location
Western Michigan
Hardiness Zone
6B
Country
United States
I'll ask a corollary: is there an upper limit to a raised bed height? I'm comfortable bending down, but I'm probably going to make some anyway, and I may as well make it easy on myself or anyone else who wants to grow short things. I'm thinking like 36" (1m) off the top of my head...
There really is no limit to how high you can make a pile / hill / or berm but put some real thought into going much higher than knee high.

Real Hugelkulture as started by Sepp Holtzer is done on a huge scale using excavators and bulldozers. On a full size project they'll put in 1.5 km of HK with trees planted on top.

If a tall raised bed or berm is not built right and not placed on relatively level ground there are risks of a heavy rain washing the whole thing down hill. This will be a man-made mudslide and can cause serious damage - poorly made berm Hugelkulture berms have washed down hills and taken out houses and buildings. There also risks to it just washing out a side and causing a mess.

Then there is just the size and volume you're trying to fill. All my raised beds are 96" long and 32" wide. 4 of these are about knee high. They took several hours each working alone to place and fill. If I bought the compost and top soil mix to fill them they'd cost a fortune.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2023
Messages
13
Reaction score
10
Location
Michigan 6b
Country
United States
I've seen 12" deep raised beds, 6", and most recently 4". My regular soil seems friendly enough to plants, so I'm less inclined to have super deep beds if I can simply encourage the plants to root in the ground after outgrowing the bed soil. Is this pursuable? Thanks!
I just watched this video last night. I've been gardening for 10 years and thought this would be helpful for you.
 
Joined
Jul 3, 2020
Messages
562
Reaction score
348
Location
Western Michigan
Hardiness Zone
6B
Country
United States
Those recessed catchments are a really cool idea and have worked in several places where they were used in deserts like this. Not only are they meant to hold water from running off across the top but they capture top soil and other blown dirts and fines to increase fertility in that depression.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2023
Messages
13
Reaction score
10
Location
Michigan 6b
Country
United States
I'll ask a corollary: is there an upper limit to a raised bed height? I'm comfortable bending down, but I'm probably going to make some anyway, and I may as well make it easy on myself or anyone else who wants to grow short things. I'm thinking like 36" (1m) off the top of my head...
I have some wicking beds and really like the fact that they are self watering. What I've learned while using them is that water tends to only wick up about 16-18" so if you build a tall bed you'll need to use something like the hugaelkultur method to help hold water high enough to reach your roots. Otherwise you'll spend a lot more time and water on your bed. Here's a video that may help wth that. I like his new concept.
 
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Messages
70
Reaction score
31
Location
Almonte Ontario
Country
Canada
I really don't see the point in raised beds at all, all the time your soil is good. Even if it's not good soil, you just need to keep adding compost to improve it. A 4'' raised one would especially be a waste of time in my book. I think maybe some people do it because they think it's trendy!
The one time I see raised beds to be beneficial I think is when you get really old and useless like me, and have a hell of a job getting down to the soil - let alone getting up again 😩 -then it would need to be at about waist level :D
Preparing the soil is most important. Dig, break up, rake out to a fine tilth and pop in the seeds!
I couldn't disagree more, where I live rocks are everywhere and using raised beds is the only way I can grow veggies like my tomatoes. The soil in my beds is 20" deep and I plant my tomatoes 12-16" deep in the soil so they can develop the root systems necessary to support and feed my very large heirloom tomatoes.
Greeks.JPG
garden boxes.JPG
 
Joined
Mar 22, 2017
Messages
4,320
Reaction score
3,299
Location
Kent
Country
United Kingdom
I couldn't disagree more, where I live rocks are everywhere and using raised beds is the only way I can grow veggies like my tomatoes. The soil in my beds is 20" deep and I plant my tomatoes 12-16" deep in the soil so they can develop the root systems necessary to support and feed my very large heirloom tomatoes.View attachment 102893View attachment 102892
Well now, that is an extremely good, valid reason for building them,and there are clearly more reasons, but I did mention that I couldn't see the point IF the soil is ok. In your case it is not.
What is good for the goose is not always right for the gander aye :giggle:
It looks as if you've made a good job of those - nice!!
You may have noticed my own exception for beds that are high up - and this poor old doddery sod is now feeling rather envious 🥴
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
26,999
Messages
259,570
Members
13,445
Latest member
caprilaser

Latest Threads

Top