How & Why To Use Raised Beds In Your Garden. Make It Easy On Yourself!

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Garden layouts are all different to suit each gardener. Some plant only in-ground, some use raised beds. Others plant in pots or containers. It’s all up to you!

I’m sharing some benefits of planting in raised beds as well as different things I use as raised beds and tips for planting them too! 

Vegetable garden planted in metal raised beds, galvanized cattle trough, black plastic cattle tubs. #TexasHomesteader

(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)

Gardening Tips & Tricks

I’ve included a long list of Gardening Tips & Tricks at the end of this post. Or you can click the link below to see all our gardening posts:

All our best posts on GARDENING. #TexasHomesteader

But for now, let’s talk about planting in raised beds.

Why Plant In Raised Beds?

My Homestead garden layout uses both raised beds as well as a few in-ground planting rows for taller plants such as tomatoes or okra. But whether in-ground or raised beds, it’s all up to you!

There are many reasons a gardener might prefer planting in a raised bed:

Hopkins Hidden Homestead heavy-duty raised bed for gardening. #TexasHomesteader

Ease of Gardening. A raised bed means less crouching on the ground to weed or harvest. This is a benefit for anyone, but especially for older folks or gardeners with physical limitations.

Eliminating Difficult Soil/Planting Conditions. If you live in a rocky area or where soil is not the best for growing plants, you can amend the soil easily in a raised bed.

Less Weeding. I’ve found I do much less weeding in my raised beds. Especially from the creeping grass nuisance of Bermuda Grass! (ugh)

Bermuda grass in a garden is very difficult to eradicate. #TexasHomesteader

Less Soil Compaction. The soil in your raised bed is protected from footsteps, wheelbarrow traffic, etc. So it stays uncompacted and your plants love it!

Longer Gardening Season – Raised beds typically warm up more quickly in early spring than planting rows.

Drawbacks To Using Raised Beds For Gardening

For all the benefits of raised bed gardening, there are a few drawbacks too:

Expense For Raised Bed Itself. Quality & prices of raised beds vary widely. But keep in mind the less expensive beds are typically more cheaply made and might not last as long as you hope. Shop wisely!

Work & Expense For Raised Bed Soil. Filling a raised bed with soil can be labor intensive and expensive! (See my tips below on filling raised beds on the cheap.)

Raised Beds Dry Out Quicker. You’ll need to water your raised-bed veggies more often than in-ground plants. 

Inflexible Relocation. You could move a raised bed if absolutely necessary, but not near as easily as deciding to plant an in-ground row in a different location.

Vegetable garden planted in rows with pathways mulched in wood chips in NE Texas. #TexasHomesteader

What Can I Use For A Raised Bed Garden?

Here are the things I’ve use for raised beds in my garden: 

My Favorite Raised Bed. I’m not gonna lie, this is my favorite raised bed. I have two of them in my vegetable garden & highly recommend them.

I love that they’re so sturdy, they’ll be around for a long time. And the wood benches make gardening a breeze! (I got these beds from *Hopkins Homestead Store and they’ve even offered our readers a discount!)

Raised bed Hopkins Homestead 5 percent off savings Coupon Code #TexasHomesteader

Galvanized Metal Cattle Trough. We had some old cattle troughs that were no longer fit to hold water. So we used them as raised beds.

Drawbacks of Using Cattle Troughs As Raised Beds. There are some drawbacks to using a cattle trough as a raised bed since they’re not open bottomed. Good soil biology activity is more difficult in a closed-bottom container. And you’ll want to make sure to add lots of drainage and remove the plug at the bottom too. 

Planting in a trough gives raised-bed convenience. #TexasHomesteader

Smaller Galvanized Tubs. I wanted a galvanized accent at my back porch. So I used a small rustic metal tub to plant a miniature blueberry bush.

The bottom was removed so it’s open at the bottom & has plenty of drainage. I love the way it looks.

I planted a miniature blueberry in an old rustic galvanized tub. #TexasHomesteader

Large Buckets Or Tubs Used For Raised Beds. Although not decorative, large empty cattle protein tubs can be used for raised beds. I currently have a couple of these in my garden and use them for chives and other herbs. Ours are about 2-ft tall. 

I drill a few drainage holes about 14″-16″ down the sides from the top and pack thick wood branches, etc. in the bottom of the tubs when I plant. 

You still have a closed-bottom container but you could cut off the bottom if necessary to reap the benefits of that soil activity gardener’s love.

We fill a large 30-gallon tub with free chopped wood mulch for our garden. #TexasHomesteader

How To Fill A Raised Bed With Soil On The Cheap!

The big concern for gardeners, especially for larger raised beds: How do you fill it up with soil without breaking the bank?? 

I save up to 80% over the cost of filling a raised bed with bagged soil using these tricks:

Buy Soil in Bulk. Look up soil companies and compare prices. They’ll dump a loader-bucket full of soil right in the back of your truck. Anything from topsoil, sand, planting mix, etc.

I like to place buckets in the truck bed beforehand to make it easier to move.

Buying soil from a dirt-hauler and filled large plastic buckets with fill dirt for cheap. #TexasHomesteader

For my early beds I liked to use a sandy mix for the bottom layers of my raised beds since it’s so cheap and sand drains so well.

Then I topped it with several inches of planting soil mix and compost to give my plants the healthiest growing medium.

Make Your Own Soil. Now I take a page from lasagna gardening & hügelkultur gardening to fill most of my raised beds.

Hügelkultur gardening graphic - logs, sticks, raised bed by By Rose Shelton and Backwoods Home #TexasHomesteader

Photo courtesy of Backwoods Home Magazine & Rose Shelton

I layer things we already have here on our homestead starting with cardboard at the bottom. Then I add logs, branches, twigs, spent hay, manure, leaves, etc.

I’m able to fill most of the bed this way, and using only what we had laying around!

Hopkins Hidden Homestead raised bed filled sheet mulch and hugelkultur style. #TexasHomesteader

Then I top the last 10″ or so with actual planting soil mixed with Homemade Compost. Most of the plant’s roots in that raised bed will be growing in that top amount of soil. The wood below will degrade over time and make rich soil too.

But the resulting soil in that bed is amazing and very productive. It’s even drought resistant because the decomposing logs hold onto moisture during the wet months and release it slowly over the more dry periods!

Happy Gardening!

I’ve added lots of helpful gardening links below, so check them out and let’s get gardening!

~ TxH~

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Tagged in A list of our posts about raised beds. #TexasHomesteader    A list of all our eco-friendly posts. #TexasHomesteader    All our favorite eco-friendly posts about repurposing. #TexasHomesteader    A list of all our spring-themed posts. #TexasHomesteader             

My Favorite Garden Hacks

My favorite gardening hacks all in one place. #TexasHomesteader

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