When you think of a home garden, what do you picture? Rows of home grown produce in a neat little square in the backyard? Or perhaps you imagine a series of square containers, elevated off the ground for serious growing.
Choosing the right type of garden bed is essential and affects what you can grow, how much maintenance is required, and what your new garden will look like. Three of the most common types of home gardens are:
- In-Ground Beds
- Raised Beds
Each one comes with various pros and cons, so choosing the right garden bed is essential.
This is one of the most common types of home gardens, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Dug directly into the ground, this garden is usually at the same surface as the surrounding grass and soil. It’s edging could be an elaborate, yet low cobblestone or it could be as simple as a minimalist, pre-assembled plastic barrier.
This type of garden bed is going to be the most impacted by the surrounding landscaping and environment. You’ll be replacing the grass with whatever you want to grow, and will be at the mercy of the soil that exists in your yard. Excavating the dirt, lining the garden bed, and ordering new soil is an option, but can be costly and take time. On the plus side, if your soil is already decent, there’s not as much prep work as required of the other styles. Till and weed the soil, plant your seeds, and add a layer of Brown Designer Mulch and you’re ready to go.
In-ground beds can be incredibly easy to start, but they also come with a number of drawbacks. This type of bed is one of the hardest to maintain, you’ll be bending over and getting on your knees to pull weeds and tend your plants. It’s also possible that the surrounding soil isn’t as healthy as you’d like, with an unbalanced pH level or containing contaminants. The soil in this type of bed will also take the longest to warm up and could delay your planting schedule.
This is also exactly what it sounds like. These garden beds are elevated off the ground, usually with a wood or stone border. These can be flush up against your house or a fence, built into a hill, or, if you’re truly ambitious, act as a standalone piece in your yard. Due to the nature of raised beds, you’re going to be adding something to your yard, whether it’s edgers and gravel or large amounts of wood. There’s a significant up-front investment to add a raised bed to your yard, including bringing in new soil to fill the bed.
The plus side to this is you get to choose exactly how you want your new bed to look. Line the bottom with a fabric barrier to prevent intrusive weeds and add custom soil and mulch to encourage growth. For the truly ambitious, invest in piping for additional watering options.
Raised beds can have a significant up front cost, but you get to decide exactly how you want everything to be. This type of bed is also easier to tend; the higher level means no kneeling and bending to work on your garden at all. The elevation also means that the soil will warm up before in-ground beds, meaning you can plant and reap the benefits of your handiwork sooner.
The most flexible type of garden bed is the container. These are stand-alone products like a pot or a plastic bin that are designed to be mobile. You can buy products specifically to use as a container bed or recycle things like wheelbarrows or old sinks. The upside to a container bed is you can place it anywhere. Live in an apartment and want a garden? Make one from a container for your porch or outdoor space. Containers are mobile, and can be placed strategically to update the appearance of your yard or home.
You have complete control of everything in the container, from the type of soil to the amount of light. You can even bring your containers inside during the winter months and protect your plant from cold weather. From houseplants to herbs to fruits, containers are incredibly versatile.
The downside to growing plants in a container is that they generally require more watering and fertilization than either raised or in-ground beds. The size of the container can also be limiting, and larger containers for larger plants can be costly.