A lot of homesteaders have opinions about which garden is better — a raised bed garden or an inground garden. I have had both and think both are great choices, though each has its own pros and cons.
Raised Beds or In-Ground Garden?
Are you wondering which one is best for you? Here are the pros and cons of both so you can make an informed decision.
Raised Bed Gardens
- Neater – It’s easy to see where the garden begins and ends as well as where the rows are.
- Easier to use for older folks or anyone who has trouble bending down (you can build them as tall as you need)
- Soil doesn’t get as compacted
- Can be used in otherwise ungrowable places (on top of concrete, for example)
- Great for places that have bad soil since you get to bring in your choice of soil
- You may be able to take the raised beds with you if you move
- Slightly longer growing season since raised beds warm-up earlier in the spring
- Need to be replaced every few years (unless you go with rot-resistant wood such as cedar, but that will be much more expensive)
- Not ideal for deep rooting plants or fruit trees and bushes
- Can be difficult to take advantage of all growable space when only using raised beds
- Least expensive
- Easier to take advantage of unusually shaped spaces
- Can more easily use chickens or other animals in the garden (though not impossible with raised beds)
- Needs less water than raised beds (though mulch will help in both gardens)
- simple for anyone to get started (no power tools needed)
- if using a no-till method, you need very few tools
- soil regeneration can take a long time if the soil is particularly poor
- may not look as neat and organized
My Take on Raised Beds Vs. In-Ground
I think if I had to choose, I would say I prefer in-ground gardens. The reason is that I like to use my chickens in the garden and that’s much easier to do with an in-ground garden. I also like that they are cheaper to get started with.
However, I do like the neatness of the raised beds and that you can start growing sooner (since you bring in quality soil).
If I were starting out at a new place, I would probably set up a few raised beds for the quick return of getting vegetables into the ground. Then I would work on improving the native soil for an in-ground garden the next year.
I would also consider using raised beds for my kitchen garden and then using an in-ground garden for my crop garden. There are a lot of ways you can do it!
If this is something that is holding you back from starting your garden, my advice is to just choose one and get started. You can always make changes later.
How to Build Raised Beds Cheap!
If you have decided raised beds are the way to go for you, here’s how to build them.
stole borrowed this idea from my sister and brother-in-law because it’s a super-easy way to build raised beds that are simple and attractive.
We built 4 – 4×8 boxes while QC was napping over the course of 2 days. It didn’t take long at all. We used pine because it’s inexpensive. If you want really long lasting boxes you can use cedar, however, pine works just fine for most gardeners’ needs.
For each raised garden bed you will need:
- 2 – 4ft x 1ft x 1in pieces of pine (we bought an 8ft piece and cut it into 2 4ft pieces)
- 2 – 8ft x1ft x 1in pieces of pine
- 4 – 1ft long 4x4s (we bought 8ft long 4x4s and cut them into 1 ft pieces using a chop saw)
- outdoor screws
To reduce your costs you can use repurposed wood.
- Screw a 4×4 to either end of each 4 ft plank making sure to keep the end of the plank flush with the edge of the 4×4.
- Attach the first 8 ft piece to one side of the 4 ft piece.
- Move the box to the ground to screw the other two sides on.
Pretty simple! Here’s the video Matt made for you so you can get a closer look at the box.