7 Raised Bed Gardening Mistakes—and Solutions for Healthy Vegetable Harvesting
Raised beds are prized for their ease of use, allowing gardeners to grow a variety of plants, fruits and vegetables in spaces of all sizes. However, despite their versatility (and ability to adapt to a variety of greenery), it's easy to make some mistakes when practicing the garden ideas presented.

As gardening guru Scott (and other experts explain it), a raised garden bed is often considered to have "magic properties," meaning you don't need to maintain it. That couldn't be further from the truth, he says in this video (opens in a new tab). "You still have to do gardening in raised beds, just like anywhere else in the landscape."

So what do you need to pay attention to so as not to spoil your vegetable garden ideas?

Raised bed gardening mistakes, experts say

Whether you are new to the concept or have already grasped the kitchen garden concept, these common mistakes can occur in any garden. Here's what you need to avoid -- and what the experts do.

1. Using the wrong size bed

Whether you're learning how to grow potatoes or another crop, the size of your bed can have a big impact on your yields—and how easy it is to garden in a raised bed.

"Make it wide enough so you can reach the entire bed," explains gardener Scott. If you want to get the most out of your freestanding bed, make it four feet wide so you can walk around it and use the side of the bed.

On the other hand, if your bed is against a garden wall, "don't make it four feet wide" - you won't be able to reach the back, wasting half the bed.

Height also matters, especially if you have limited mobility (or even a bad back): "If you have limited mobility or prefer not to work on your knees, you are free to adjust your height to the height that works best for you."2

. Skip the planning stage

"When you skip the planning stage, you risk placing your raised bed in the shade or facing a sub-optimal orientation, reducing your plants' sun exposure." (Opens in a new tab). Instead, learning how to properly build a raised bed garden begins with the careful planning stage.

Experts recommend that your loft bed face north-south rather than east-west to optimize sunlight exposure. "Before construction, make sure your raised bed location isn't obscured by shrubs or trees," she adds.

3. Choosing the wrong bed

This one may seem simple, but gardener Scott says many gardeners make this mistake. He reiterates that garden beds are "not magical": they can't "get over the wrong place". If you put your raised bed in the shade and your plants don't do well, it's probably not because they're in the raised bed, but because they're in the wrong place.

All vegetables need sunlight to thrive, so always choose a sunny, shady spot for your raised garden bed. And don't forget to put them where your irrigation system or garden hose will work.

4. Not enough space between garden beds

It may be tempting to keep your garden beds neat and close to each other, but this can make moving between them difficult. Scott recommends leaving "enough room to move your trolley",

This doesn't mean you need to leave 6 feet between the beds - just that the path to the edge of the bed is wide enough that you need to leave 2 feet between the beds so you can easily walk between them walk between. Gardener Scott warns that even watering can become "difficult" if you "put them too close together". However, with the right planning, you can still incorporate raised beds into your small garden ideas.

5. Use herbicides

While it may be tempting to use herbicides on (or near) your raised beds, Emma warns that these chemicals can damage your soil for years. Instead, she recommends removing weeds by hand or using stainless steel hand weeding tools that won't cause long-term damage.

6. Choosing the wrong soil type

This goes back to gardener Scott's main point about raised garden beds - they're not magic, so "taking poor soil" from anywhere in the garden and filling raised beds with it will give you bad results.

"At the very least, you need to add some sort of organic material to your soil, like compost," Scott says, "and if you can, get a mix that already has compost and nutrients in it."

You will then need to continue adding organic matter "regularly" to maintain soil nutrients.

7. Choosing the wrong material for your bed

Scott admits he likes wood best, but he does realize that "wood decomposes and rots over time, so my raised bed needs replacing. Especially if you live in a humid humid climate," you may Would consider bypassing wood to make the bed entirely", perhaps consider galvanized steel instead.

Bricks and stones are also great solutions—"I don't have to worry about decomposing the material." Build your raised beds and enjoy homegrown vegetables every year.

How deep should a raised vegetable bed be?

Raised vegetable beds should be at least 8 to 12 inches deep, but they can be deeper if you have limited mobility or if the soil doesn't drain well. In the latter case, you can backfill the raised bed with porous growing material. if the loft bed opens

At the bottom?

Experts are divided on whether packing the bottom of a bed is a good idea. The answer usually depends on the specific situation.

"In most cases, I'm in favor of raised beds that are open to the ground. That way earthworms and other beneficial microbes can get into your garden beds more easily, and the ground beneath an open raised bed has ideal natural drainage," says Erinn Witz, co-founder of SeedsandSpades(opens in a new tab).

However, in some cases it is better to close the bottom of the bed. For example, if you know the floor under your bed has been treated with a lot of chemicals. "You want to keep as much of this material out of your garden as possible, and a closed bottom helps to do that," says Erinn.

What should I put in the bottom of my raised garden bed?

You can fill the bottom of a raised garden bed with many organic materials, including straw, grass clippings, sawdust, and leaves. Lay cardboard—or any suitable weed barrier material—over this organic layer, and press it down with a few bricks or nails. This turns the organic material into rich compost into which you can mix the soil for a rich growing environment. Typically, you aim for a mix of 30 percent compost, 60 percent topsoil, and 10 percent potting soil—the latter aids in drainage.