For beginners, it is common for them to think that soil taken from yards or garden beds is okay to apply in raised beds. Do not make this same mistake because soil taken from yards or garden beds are too dense to be used in containers and raised beds, which can cause complications and threats to your plant’s health.
This is why I recommend using potting mix for plants that are in containers because they are suitable and adaptable to your containers.
When it comes to using raised beds, heavier soil that is specifically made for that type of garden is recommended in order to sustain itself and give your plants all the benefits they could get from their proper garden soil.
But the main question here is – what is the best garden soil for raised beds?
In this article, you will learn the different types of garden soil that are appropriate for raised beds and the fundamentals of soil maintenance and care.
What Are Raised Beds?
A lot of people may say that raised beds are self-explanatory, but there is actually more to it when it comes to their capabilities, functions, and purposes. This is why a lot of gardeners purchase a lot of them or even build their own raised beds!
Raised beds are basically planting beds that are leveraged on top of the existing soil. Its height could vary from just a few inches to a few feet and even higher. Raised beds can be made from different types of materials as well including wood, steel, metal, bricks, cobblestones, etc.
In terms of its dimensions, this depends on how many plants you are putting in the raised bed, and how much space you have in your garden because you simply cannot make it too big if your garden lacks the luxury of space.
The right dimensions benefit the soil as well because it gives them the chance to loosen and spread instead of being compacted that might cause it to harden over time. Remember, the best raise beds result in better aeration and drainage.
Are Raised Beds Necessary?
No, they are not considered to be a must-have in your garden. However, if you live in a dry environment or have hard compact soil, then raised beds can be of great help. Raised beds give you the advantage of having better control over your soil by encouraging your plant’s roots to spread across the leveraged soil bed.
Raised beds are also great for preventing your soil to go bone-dry or compact because its leverage allows it to hold more water; meaning there would be better moisture retention. You can also add mulches and other organic matters to increase moisture levels.
So, if you live in environments that always rain or have high humidity, you can skip raised beds as this can cause too much moisture that can lead to root rot and other garden diseases that can spread across your garden easily.
How To Build Raised Beds
Interested in learning how to build garden-raised beds? Great! You can have all the benefits above, and save money because purchasing raised beds can be expensive. Before starting, you must be willing to put in a lot of effort, time, and patience for this because depending on your progress, it can take longer and be quite of a hassle.
But do not let that discourage you because the rewards are much greater than your sacrifice!
Without further ado, here is what you should do.
1) Measure The Space In Your Garden
Before even considering building a raised bed, check your garden first and measure the area you are planning to place it in. This ensures that your garden is capable of having or not having a raised bed. This saves time and money as well because without measuring the area, you might be just wasting your money on materials that do not fit in the area where you want to place your raised bed.
2) Gather The Necessary Materials
Depending on what materials you are purchasing, make sure that the materials are fit for the project. As aforementioned, I highly recommend using materials that are capable of holding large amounts of soil, water, and moisture. The materials fit for this are wood, steel, metal, bricks, cobblestones, etc.
Be mindful of cheap materials as they have a probability of breaking or degrading in the long run. Choose high-quality materials that are built for sustainability and longevity.
3) Determine The Dimensions
You may proceed to measure the desired dimensions that your garden area is capable of having. Remember, the height of your raised bed can be as short as just a few inches, and can be as tall as your waist level. Depending on what suits your plant’s preference, you may choose any of the heights that are suitable for them.
The right dimensions secure your plant’s roots to spread across and underneath the soil. An advantage that is worth mentioning for raised beds is that some garden pests can no longer reach your plants and their roots.
4) Put The Materials Together
This is the hardest part of the process and the most time-consuming because depending on what materials you are using, it might take a lot of effort and time for you to finish. However, there is a faster option, which is to bring the materials to your nearest hardware manufacturers and let them do the work for you.
It is affordable and convenient, so if you are reconsidering building a raised bed because of the effort you have to put in, you can totally go for this option.
5 Best Garden Soils For Raised Beds
Over the years, I have researched many sources, and have found the best garden soils that are perfect for raised beds! Some of these soils can be purchased in garden stores near, and some of them are produced and mixed.
Rest assured, these soils are great for cultivating your plants in their respective raised beds.
1) Organic Soil
Organic soil is at the top of its game when it comes to using it for raised beds. Non-organic soil can perform well also but it is simply not as decent as organic soil. The way organic soil regulates water, air, and moisture is truly impressive. It has excellent resistance to pests and disease as well which gives extra protection to the already hard-to-invade raised bed.
You do not need to apply chemicals and pesticides that can be harmful to your plants anymore because organic soil has natural repellent properties, that if maintained, it can last for a very long time.
2) Premium Topsoil
Topsoil is suitable for raised beds and it is widely used in the gardening hobby as well. But what makes it fit for applying it in raised beds?
For starters, it is deemed to be better than regular potting mixes you purchase at garden centers. Topsoil gives off nutrients and essential minerals to your plants to improve growth development and overall health. It is worth mentioning that topsoil contains high concentrated organic matter as well that contributes to its sustainable characteristics.
3) High-Quality Compost
Compost is a reputable good source of soil. I personally use a lot of compost for my raised beds and they do very well in both cold and hot temperatures. But before purchasing compost, you must consider the following factors first:
- Is the compost high-quality?
- What does it contain?
- How did they process it?
- Do they use it?
If these standards are not met, I suggest you make your own compost since it is relatively easy, and this is to ensure the safety of your plants. But if you are not confident in making compost, you can find a lot of reputable sources online.
Compost has tons of benefits to your plants and the microorganisms in your soil that fight off insects, fungi, mold, and various bacteria, promoting the health of your plants.
4) Combination of The Three
Based on the name of this soil, this mix consists of the three elements above. Namely; organic soil, topsoil, and compost.
Yes, these three can be combined to result in enrich soil. It is almost close to perfect but since it cannot be applied to all plants, let us just rank it that way. Here are the specific amounts to be applied to each element before mixing.
- 50% Topsoil
- 30% Compost
- 20% Organic Matter
With all three great elements, you can expect to see great results in your plant’s condition in no time. As long as you do your part in maintaining the soil as well because the three of these could easily dry out if left unattended for many days.
5) Moss Mix
Another great mix you can use for your raised bed’s soil is adding moss.
What you need:
- Top Soil
- Peat Moss or Black Loam
These are great for moisture retention, and it also helps soil yield nutrients by increasing its cation exchange capacity. Peat moss does not contain a high level of pH, so if you decide to add mulch on your soil, you might as well include lime for better biodiversity.
If you want to make the best out of your raised beds, start by building one with durable materials and filling it up with the best soil.
You can expect your plants to thrive as a result of your efforts since they are living in an environment where they can achieve their greatest condition.
If you have a question or a soil mixture of your own that is great for raised beds, do not hesitate to comment down below.