Garden design with raised beds: 10 very good reasons to design a garden with raised beds
Raised beds are very popular with many gardeners and can have lots of advantages. Whether our garden is large or small, flat or sloping, dry or wet, there's a good chance that a raised bed or two could be a good option for us.
As a professional garden designer, I often suggest a raised beds for my customers' gardens. Here are my top 10 reasons for loving raised beds:
1. Raised beds can be structurally interesting
A good structure is vitally important to any well-designed garden, and raised beds can really help in this regard. By adding a degree of height and interest to our garden they can instantly give a sense purpose and direction to a space. Constructed a raised bed from timber, stone or brick can also be a good way to introduce textural variety too.
2. Using raised beds to make the most of level changes
Raised beds can be a great option in gardens with level changes. Instead of trying to hide or compensate for natural level variations, a good garden designer will always try to take advantage of them and turn them into a feature. Incorporating raised beds at strategic points is a really good way of achieving this. The garden in the picture above was constructed on a sloping site in Nottingham, and raised beds have been designed to make the most of the changes of level whilst also providing structural interest.
3. Raised beds can bring things closer to our eye (and our nose!)
Raised beds can really help make the most of a good planting scheme by bringing the plants closer to eye level. This can be particularly impressive when the planting is alongside seating areas- feeling like we are sitting ‘amongst’ the plants is always so much more interesting than simply looking down on them.
The finer details of smaller plants (such as alpines) will be more easy to see and enjoy, and who wouldn't enjoy being that little bit closer to a beautifully fragranced plant?
Finally, let's not forget the impact raising our planting can have in terms of providing a greater feeling of privacy. Once again, this can be particularly effective with seating and entertaining areas, with the physical structure of the raised bed and the planting within it can make a huge difference to how secluded we feel.
4. Raised beds are a good option for anyone with mobility issues
Raised beds are an almost essential option for gardeners with mobility issues because they can massively reduce the need for bending or leaning. Wheelchair users are able to enjoy their gardens far more with carefully designed beds of an appropriate height, providing paths of the right width and materials are created to enable easy accessibility.
5. Raised beds are great for easier maintenance gardening
A well-designed raised bed should make day-to-day tasks such as weeding, dead-heading and watering can be much easier and far more enjoyable for gardeners of all mobilities. Rather than kneeling or bending for prolonged periods of time, gardeners can be far more comfortable if they can perch or sit on the edge of a well-constructed raised bed. For this reason, I love to design raised beds at a comfortable seating height wherever possible.
6. Raised beds help us to match the soil to our plants
Raised beds can provide far greater control over soil type, and this presents a wonderful opportunity to match the soil to the plant. If, like some of my garden design customers, we have always wanted to grow rhododendrons or azaleas but have alkaline soil, we can just fill our raised bed with ericaceous soil or compost to create the perfect environment for our favourite acid-loving plants. Similarly, if our garden has a very heavy clay soil, we can use a lighter more sandy soil in our raised beds to enable us to grow plants that are more suited to this sort of soil.
7. Raised beds help us to improve the drainage of our soil
By raising the soil in a raised bed we can make massive improvement to drainage, and open up our options for growing plants that require specific moisture levels. Gardeners with heavy clay soils can, for example, incorporate sand and horticultural grit in their raised beds to make it possible to grow plants that prefer well-drained conditions. Conversely, adding lots of organic matter to the soil in a raised bed can make a massive difference for plants that otherwise might not cope in dry or very freely-draining gardens.
8. Raised beds can help us to begin growing earlier in the year
By building a raised bed and improving our drainage we are also helping the soil to warm up more quickly in the spring. This often means that the growing season can begin much earlier than it otherwise might, particularly if we are growing fruit and vegetables. We are fortunate that the relatively mild and dry climate here at our south Lincolnshire HQ means that our growing season is quite long, but in colder and wetter parts of the country improving drainage with raised beds can make a massive impact and allow us to grow a much wider variety of crops.
9. Raised beds reduce the risk of soil compaction
Now, this might not be one of the main reasons for us to consider a raised bed, but by raising our planting area to ankle, knee or waist height there is much less temptation for us to walk on the soil. This is really important because walking on the soil causes compaction, and soil compaction can be really detrimental. It is particularly damaging in gardens with heavier soils, and can lead to water-logging and other drainage issues.
Even our family’s pet dog may be less likely to walk on a raised bed and cause any accidental damage to our favourite plants (hopefully your four-legged friend is rather better trained in this regard than my own dog!).
10. Raised beds are more manageable than pots
Raised beds can be much easier to manage than pots or other containers because they hold a larger volume of soil. This makes them less susceptible to drying out in warmer weather. Whilst pots will often suffer through lack of watering whilst we are enjoying our summer holiday, raised beds will usually be able to look after themselves far more readily.
There we are. What more motivation could we possibly need? Raised beds are immensely valuable from a garden design point of view, are great for dealing with practicalities such as level changes and poor soils, and a brilliant way to help us enjoy our favourite plants. Surely every garden should have a raised bed?
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.