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Gardening in the garden house – raised beds

With borders made of different materials and at different heights, raised beds expand the space available for useful and ornamental plants. Wood is often used, but there are also raised beds made of metal, brick, natural stone and concrete. Hardware stores usually offer standard sizes with a height of 90 cm in a rectangular shape; simple models can also be just 30 cm high.

Whether it is worth building a raised bed depends largely on the nature of your garden and what you want to plant there. In order for the raised bed to be used effectively, it must be created correctly. With us you will find out the advantages and disadvantages of raised beds and whether the effort for your garden is worth it.

Benefits of raised beds

Better harvests

If the raised bed is created correctly, it will contain more nutrients than regular garden soil, resulting in higher crop yields. In addition, a rotting process similar to that in compost takes place in the lower part of the raised bed, which produces heat. Additional heat is provided by the sun, which warms the soil in the raised bed not only from above but also from the sides. Due to the higher temperatures, the plants germinate earlier and grow faster.

Comfortable working height

Raised beds offer a working height that puts no strain on the knees or back, especially for people with limited mobility. The height can be chosen so that gardeners can work standing or even sitting in the raised bed.

Growing vegetables on unsuitable soils

Polluted and sealed areas can either not be planted at all or can only be planted after complete soil replacement. But particularly sandy, peaty, loamy or heavily rooted soils are also unsuitable for many plants. Nutrient-rich soil can be quickly created in raised beds – even on the terrace or balcony. That’s why raised beds are particularly popular in urban gardening and with tenants. However, it is important to ensure that balconies have sufficient load-bearing capacity, as raised beds can be surprisingly heavy.

Fewer pests

A properly designed raised bed reduces the appearance of weeds, slugs and other pests. To protect against snails, a copper band can also be attached to the underside of the raised bed. If the floor is provided with a rabbit screen, the raised bed and the vegetables growing in it are also protected from voles.

Use garden waste sensibly

The bottom layer of the raised bed usually consists of wood cuttings, which are generated as garden waste in many gardens and only slowly rot in the compost. Leaves and other organic material can also be used to fill the raised bed.

Child plants in raised bed Raised bed in urban gardening

Disadvantages of raised beds

High costs

As long as the subsoil in the garden is not contaminated with pollutants or is completely sealed, building a raised bed is usually more expensive than adding compost to unsuitable soil. In addition, depending on the material used, raised beds need to be replaced or improved regularly. Filling with high-quality compost also contributes to the high cost of a raised bed. In order to benefit from all the advantages of the raised bed, it must be completely refilled every seven years.

Impact on the environment

According to a January 2024 study, gardening produces, on average, six times as much CO₂ as conventional farming. This is mainly due to the high cost of materials that private gardens require. Instead of cultivating a large area with just a few machines, far more spades, brooms, rakes and other equipment are purchased for the many small private gardens. Steel has a particularly high CO₂ footprint. But raised beds made of wood, which have to be replaced every few years, also cause CO₂ emissions when the wood is transported and processed. This can be counteracted by reusing materials such as Euro pallets, old bathtubs or rain barrels and converting them into raised beds.

High water requirements

The higher temperatures in the raised bed – due to the rotting process and the heating from several sides – lead to higher evaporation in the raised bed than in the conventional bed. In summer, raised beds must be watered thoroughly every day. Not only is this time-consuming, but in times of increasingly dry summers, water is also becoming increasingly scarce.

When does it make sense to create a raised bed?

A raised bed does not necessarily have to be used for vegetables, but can also visually enrich the garden. By creating raised beds and planting plants of different heights, different levels are created that make the garden more varied. If the raised bed is intended to serve as a design element , it does not necessarily have to be useful.

Hansa Deluxe A with veranda 22m2 Sophia garden house with raised bed

However, if you want to weigh up the costs and benefits of a raised bed, it depends heavily on the condition of the soil . Especially in metropolitan areas, allotment gardens and residential areas are often built on former industrial and commercial areas, which significantly affects the quality of the soil. Tenants are often not authorized to make changes to the garden or only have a terrace or balcony.

Even when building new buildings , homeowners can rarely expect fertile humus soil. The subsoil is often compacted with heavy equipment and the excavated soil is usually filled with poor quality soil in order to save money. In addition, there is contamination from building rubble and waste.

If the soil in the garden is not suitable for growing vegetables, the raised bed opens up areas that would otherwise not be usable. This also applies to gardens with particularly sandy, loamy or peaty soils. If vegetables and ornamental plants are not thriving well in your garden, a soil analysis may be worthwhile. Based on the information on soil type, pH value and nutrient content, you can decide whether it is worth improving the soil or whether you should switch to raised beds (at least in some places). Depending on the scope, soil analyzes cost between 20 and 100 euros.

Conclusion: Raised beds can be useful garden elements

Whether as a design element or for growing vegetables on unsuitable soil – raised beds can be a real asset to gardens. Although they cause a higher CO₂ footprint than conventional beds, this can be offset elsewhere – for example, by buying used garden tools or repairing them instead of throwing them away. In addition, there is hardly a hobby that does not have a carbon footprint, so this factor should not rule out building a raised bed from the outset.

In order for a raised bed to function optimally, it must be created correctly. You’ll find out how to do this in our next blog post .

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