How to use raised garden beds in any outdoor space (2024)

You don't need a sprawling lawn to be a gardener. Any outdoor space — be it a balcony or a small patch of grass — can be home to a raised garden bed. And while gardeners of all levels may find them useful, raised garden beds are particularly good for beginners. Experts told us they allow you to control factors like garden size and soil conditions, making it feel like “gardening with training wheels,” said Carmen DeVito, founder of garden and landscape design company Garden Cult and a certified New York State landscape professional.

SKIP AHEAD Best containerized raised garden beds | Best supported raised garden beds | How to shop for raised garden beds

We talked to experts about the benefits raised garden beds offer and compiled some tips for how to make your garden flourish in one. We also rounded up highly rated raised garden beds across different sizes, styles and price points based on our experts’ guidance.

Our top picksHow we picked the best raised garden beds

While shopping for raised garden beds, experts said to think about the following factors:

Type of bed: Raised ground beds are flat-topped mounds of soil that are 6 to 8 inches high and do not have elevated support frames. Supported raised beds consist of a mound of soil surrounded by a supportive edge or frame whereas containerized raised beds are essentially large planters or pots that have taller sides and a base.

Size: Survey your outdoor space and think about how much of it you want to dedicate to a raised garden bed, as well as where you want to position it.

Material: Metal and plastic beds are usually longer lasting than wood beds, and fabric beds are an affordable option some people prefer.

Drainage holes: Drainage holes allow excess water to be released from the bed, helping prevent plant roots from rotting or developing fungus and bacteria.

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Best raised garden beds to shop

To recommend the following raised garden beds, we used our experts’ guidance and rounded up highly rated supported and containerized options. We included raised garden beds across various styles, sizes and price points to help you find one that best fits your outdoor space. All of the wood options we recommend are warp-resistant, according to the brands’ description. In line with experts’ advice, all of the containerized raised beds we recommend have drainage holes.

Containerized raised beds

Best Choice Products Raised Garden Bed

This raised garden bed comes with a liner that separates the wood from the soil, preserving the structure’s condition over time, according to the brand. Best Choice Products also makes a similar raised garden bed on wheels if you’re looking for portability.

Material: Wood | Size: 34x18x30 inches, 48x24x30 inches or 72x23x30 inches | Rating: 4.5-star average rating from over 7,600 reviews on Amazon | Color: Natural, Acorn Brown or Gray

Jumbl Raised Canadian Cedar Garden Bed

Jumbl’s raised garden bed comes with all the parts and hardware you need to assemble it, as well as liner.

Material: Cedar wood | Size: 34x18x30 inches, 49x23x30 inches, 49x34x30 inches or 72x23x30 inches | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 760 reviews on Amazon | Color: Cedar

Edostory Vertical Garden Planter

Vertical gardening allows you to plant upwards instead of outwards, making it suitable for narrow spaces. This vertical raised garden bed comes with five containers on five different levels, and you can remove the containers from the frame when you want to add or tend to plants. The planter sits on wheels, allowing you to move it around your space. You can also lock the wheels once you’re happy with the bed’s positioning. The bed comes with digging claw gloves, a trowel and pruning shears.

Material: Alloy steel frame and plastic containers | Size: 26x28x53 inches | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 140 reviews on Amazon | Color: Brown or Green

FOYUEE Raised Planter Box

This raised garden bed is a highly portable option that equips two wheels and a handle to roll it like a wheelbarrow when needed. The bed has a shelf on the bottom and hooks on the side to store your gardening tools and other items.

Material: Galvanized steel with an anti-rust coating | Size: 40.6x15.6x31.6 inches | Rating: 4.6-star average rating from over 4,600 reviews on Amazon | Color: Black

Giantex Raised Garden Bed

Giantex’s raised garden bed adds a pop of color to your deck or yard. It comes with all the hardware you need for assembly, the brand says.

Material: Steel | Size: 25x13x18 inches, 25x13x31.5 inches or 40x13x31.5 inches | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 520 reviews on Amazon | Color: Farmhouse Green

Keter Urban Bloomer 12.7 Gallon Raised Garden Bed

The planter box of this raised garden bed has divided sections so you can separate different types of plants. It has a storage shelf on the bottom, plus comes with a seed sprouting tray. The raised garden bed is also designed with a built-in watering system that includes a water reservoir, which the brand says helps keep soil moist. Its water gauge indicates how much water is in the reservoir, and a drainage tap removes excess water when needed, according to the brand.

Material: Resin | Size: 32.3x14.7x30.7 inches | Rating: 4.5-star average rating from over 2,400 reviews on Amazon | Color: Dark Grey

Apipi Fabric Raised Garden Planter

Each of these fabric garden beds has four divided sections so you can organize the different flowers or vegetables you’re growing. The brand’s planters are sold individually or in a pack of two.

Material: Fabric (water-resistant polypropylene material) | Size: 11.8x11.8x9.8 inches | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 1,900 reviews on Amazon | Color: Green

Supported raised beds

Foyuee Galvanized Raised Garden Bed

This bed provides you with enough space to plant a large garden. The brand says it’s built with crossbars that have an anti-rust coating to stand up to the elements season after season.

Material: Galvanized metal | Size: 8x4x1 feet | Rating: 4.6-star average rating from over 4,400 reviews on Amazon | Color: Silver

Greenes Fence Raised Garden Bed

Greenes Fence’s garden beds come in over a dozen different shapes and sizes — you can choose the one that best fits your property. All beds can be assembled without tools as their walls slide into posts to create the frame. Beds can also be stacked on top of each other to add height, or arranged next to one another to create longer and wider areas to garden in.

Material: Pine wood | Size: Over a dozen options, depends on shape you choose | Rating: 4.4-star average rating from over 700 reviews on Amazon | Color: Light Brown and Spruce

King Bird Reinforced Card Frame Raised Garden Bed

This bed can be assembled without tools, the brand says. It comes with two pairs of gardening gloves and gardening tags.

Material: Galvanized steel | Size: Six sizes available, smallest being 68x36x12 inches and largest being 101x36x24 inches | Rating: 4.5-star average rating from over 2,000 reviews on Amazon | Color: Dark Grey, Green or Ivory

Land Guard Galvanized Raised Garden Bed Kit

Land Guard’s raised garden bed is oval shaped, differentiating it from the square or rectangular shaped beds you typically see. The brand says the bed is made of thick, heavy duty metal material and has smooth edges.

Material: Metal | Size: 4x2x1 ft., 6x3x1 ft. or 8x4x1 ft. | Rating: 4.5-star average rating from over 4,100 reviews on Amazon | Color: Silver, Grey, Green, Brown or Blue

Clean Earth Earth Works Vinyl Raised Garden Bed

This square bed slides together without tools. The brand says it’s lightweight, too, so you can move it around your yard or deck between seasons if you want to change the location of your garden.

Material: Vinyl | Size: 48x48x11 inches | Rating: 4.5-star average rating from over 150 reviews on Amazon | Color: White

YaheeTech 3 Tier Raised Garden Bed

You can stack the boxes of this garden bed to create a three-tier structure, or use each box individually on the ground. The bed comes with all the hardware needed for assembly.

Material: Fir wood | Size: 47x47x22 inches | Rating: 4.6-star average rating from over 1,300 reviews on Amazon | Color: Natural wood

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Types of raised garden beds

There are three types of raised garden beds: raised ground beds, supported raised beds and containerized raised beds. All three work to lift plants and their root systems above ground, and understanding the benefits of each can help you decide which is best for your space.

Raised ground beds are flat-topped mounds of soil that are typically 6 to 8 inches high and do not have elevated support frames. They’re the simplest above-ground gardening option since they only require soil, and they’re sometimes referred to as built-in raised beds, said Venelin Dimitrov, senior product manager for gardening company Burpee. He noted that they’re specifically useful for gardeners who have large areas for planting but do not want the added expense of building support frames.

Supported raised beds consist of a mound of soil surrounded by a supportive edge or frame. Dimitrov said these beds are especially useful for sloped or uneven ground — you can build a flat surface on top of an uneven surface with this type of raised bed.

Containerized raised beds are what most people typically think of when they talk about raised garden beds, experts told us. DeVito said they’re essentially large planters or pots. Containerized raised beds have taller sides and a base, and they can be used on lawns, walkways, decks, patios, driveways and porches. Dimitrov said you should be sure wherever you put the raised bed can tolerate its weight and the moisture it may give off. He noted that you may need to use more soil to fill a containerized raised bed, but they’re versatile and work well in high-traffic areas.

How to shop for raised garden beds

After you decide the type of raised garden bed you’re looking for, consider experts recommend considering the following:

Material

DeVito said raised garden beds are usually constructed from wood, metal or plastic. DeVito said metal and plastic beds usually last longer compared to wood, which may rot over time. Some people may prefer wood, though, and if you plan to make your garden permanent or live in an area where you can garden year round, she suggested investing in a pressure-treated or rot-resistant wood bed, looking for types such as Ipe or Cedar.

Some companies also sell raised garden beds made from fabric, which DeVito said are a more affordable option. If opting for fabric, she recommended using smaller sized beds, which are easy to move. Fabric raised garden beds should be put on top of gravel, soil or stone — DeVito said they would make a deck too wet.

Drainage holes and liners

While researching raised garden beds, we saw many options that are built with drainage holes or come with liners.

Like indoor pots, outdoor planters such as containerized raised garden beds need drainage holes to allow extra water to drain out the bottom. This ensures that water does not gather at the base of the planter, which can cause plant roots to rot or fungus and bacteria to build up. DeVito said a lack of drainage puts plants at risk of staying wet for a long period of time — and too much water is just as harmful to plants as too little.

DeVito said she typically does not suggest using liners unless there’s a reason for it, which can range from soil contamination and tree roots to aggressive weeds on the surface you plan on housing your raised garden bed on top of. Liners can also come in handy if you’re putting a raised garden bed on a wood, stone or concrete surface — DeVito said this can help protect the surface from staining.

Benefits of raised-bed gardening

Dimitrov said raised garden beds are popular because they allow gardeners to control the soil quality they’re planting in. When you’re planting in the ground, it’s hard to know the exact composure of the soil or if it has the proper nutrients your plants need to thrive. But you fill raised garden beds with the soil of your choosing, and you can be sure it’s not contaminated or stripped of essential vitamins and minerals. Dimitrov added that in a raised garden bed, the soil is able to thaw and warm up faster than it is on the ground.

Additionally, DeVito said raised garden beds are beneficial if your property is filled with tree roots, large shrubs or aggressive plants that make it challenging to dig in certain areas. Planting in raised garden beds is essentially a blank slate — you can start from scratch and avoid some of the challenges that come with in-ground gardening. DeVito also noted that raised garden beds make gardening easier for people with physical challenges or disabilities that make it difficult to bend over, work on their knees or squat down close to the ground.

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How to fill and water a raised garden bed

The first step to preparing your raised garden bed for planting is filling it with soil. DeVito said what you’re planting often dictates what type of soil you should use, but as a general rule, she relies on screened topsoil — soil without any rocks, sticks or clumps — mixed with compost. Dimitrov said you can also purchase soil that’s premixed with compost, and to look for options that feature 50% soil and 50% compost.

Dimitrov said there’s no special way you need to water plants in a raised garden bed. In fact, raised garden beds are able to drain excess water from heavy rains away from plants’ root zones, which ensures that they don’t get over-saturated. DeVito said raised-bed gardens tend to dry out more than in-ground gardens, which may mean plants need to be watered more often, especially during the hot, dry summer. Overall, she recommended hand-watering plants using a garden hose with a shower nozzle attachment, or, for larger raised garden beds, setting up an automatic soaker hose system.

What to plant in raised gardening beds

Raised garden beds are most often used for growing food like vegetables, herbs and fruit. You can also use them for a cut flower garden or small shrubs. DeVito said the only plants she would not put in a raised garden are large trees or shrubs that require a lot of space for their root systems, leaves or branches.

Devito also noted that raised garden beds are a great way to introduce kids to gardening. She said the contained area gives kids their own space to explore working with dirt and seeds, and she recommended starting kids off with growing easy, low maintenance vegetables like radishes and beans.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

Carmen DeVito is the founder of garden and landscape design company Garden Cult and a certified New York State landscape professional.

Venelin Dimitrov is a senior product manager for gardening company Burpee.

Why trust NBC Select?

Zoe Malin has been covering indoor and outdoor gardening products for over a year at Select and has published guides about gardening tools, indoor planters, raised gardening beds and more. For this piece, Zoe interviewed two gardening experts and researched dozens of raised garden beds on the market. We included raised garden beds that are highly rated and meet expert shopping guidance.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal finance, tech and tools, wellness and more, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Zoe Malin

Zoe Malin is an associate updates editor at NBC Select based in New York City, NY. She joined the team in 2020 as Select’s first-ever intern. Zoe specializes in topics like home and kitchen, wellness and fitness, pets and household basics from toothpaste to olive oil. Zoe leads Covid-19 coverage for Select, authoring guides to KN95 masks, N95 masks and Covid tests. She also helped start Select’s column in 2020, which she’s written ever since. Zoe covers tentpole sale events including Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and works on articles highlighting minority-owned businesses, like Black-owned coffee companies and AAPI-owned food and drink brands. She’s constantly trying products like sports bras, ice cream makers, tinted sunscreen and more.

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an expert and enthusiast, I have personal experiences or expertise, but I can provide information on various topics based on reliable sources. Here is some information related to the concepts mentioned in this article:

Raised Garden Beds:

Raised garden beds are a popular option for gardening in small spaces, such as balconies or small patches of grass. They offer several benefits and are particularly useful for beginners. Raised garden beds allow you to control factors like garden size and soil conditions, making it easier to manage and maintain your garden [[1]].

Types of Raised Garden Beds:

There are three main types of raised garden beds: raised ground beds, supported raised beds, and containerized raised beds.

  1. Raised Ground Beds: These are flat-topped mounds of soil that are typically 6 to 8 inches high and do not have elevated support frames. They are the simplest above-ground gardening option and are useful for gardeners with large areas for planting who do not want the added expense of building support frames [[2]].

  2. Supported Raised Beds: These beds consist of a mound of soil surrounded by a supportive edge or frame. They are especially useful for sloped or uneven ground, as they allow you to create a flat surface on top of an uneven surface [[2]].

  3. Containerized Raised Beds: These are essentially large planters or pots with taller sides and a base. They can be used on various surfaces such as lawns, walkways, decks, patios, driveways, and porches. Containerized raised beds are versatile and work well in high-traffic areas [[2]].

Factors to Consider When Shopping for Raised Garden Beds:

When shopping for raised garden beds, there are several factors to consider:

  1. Type of Bed: Decide whether you want a raised ground bed, supported raised bed, or containerized raised bed based on your gardening needs and the available space [[3]].

  2. Size: Survey your outdoor space and determine how much of it you want to dedicate to a raised garden bed. Consider the dimensions of the bed and where you want to position it [[3]].

  3. Material: Raised garden beds are commonly constructed from wood, metal, plastic, or fabric. Metal and plastic beds are usually longer lasting than wood beds, while fabric beds are an affordable option. Consider the pros and cons of each material based on your preferences and the specific requirements of your garden [[3]].

  4. Drainage Holes: Drainage holes are important for excess water to be released from the bed, preventing plant roots from rotting or developing fungus and bacteria. Ensure that the raised garden bed you choose has proper drainage holes [[3]].

Recommended Raised Garden Beds:

This article recommends several raised garden beds across different sizes, styles, and price points. Here are a few examples:

  1. Best Choice Products Raised Garden Bed: This raised garden bed comes with a liner that separates the wood from the soil, preserving the structure's condition over time. It is available in different sizes and has received positive ratings from customers [[4]].

  2. Jumbl Raised Canadian Cedar Garden Bed: This raised garden bed is made of cedar wood and comes with all the necessary parts and hardware for assembly. It is available in various sizes and has received positive ratings from customers [[5]].

  3. Edostory Vertical Garden Planter: This vertical raised garden bed allows you to plant upwards instead of outwards, making it suitable for narrow spaces. It comes with five containers on five different levels and is equipped with wheels for easy mobility [[6]].

  4. FOYUEE Raised Planter Box: This highly portable raised garden bed has wheels and a handle for easy transportation. It also features a shelf and hooks for storing gardening tools and other items [[7]].

Please note that the information provided above is based on this article, and I have cited the relevant search snippets accordingly.

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