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Raised Bed Gardening: Wooden Vs Fabric Raised Garden Beds

Raised bed gardening is an especially popular practice for professional and beginner gardeners alike. Conventional raised bed gardening involves the use of wooden frames stacked like a box.

Sometimes these wooden frames have a fabric sheet forming the base that improves drainage and also prevents the growth of weeds. 

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of fabric raised garden beds. 

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Advantages of Fabric Raised Garden Beds

Advantages of Fabric Raised Garden Beds

1. Fabric Garden Beds Improves Aeration

The first advantage is superior aeration provided to the plants’ root zones thanks to a breathable fabric design. Improved aeration allows for a healthy microbial population and eliminates unhealthy pathogens from the soil.

This fabric also allows for root pruning. As the roots near the edge of the fabric come in contact with the air and this allows them to grow thicker and more fibrous.

The better the quality of the roots the more nutrients and oxygen they can absorb and the healthier the plants will be.   

2. Superior Drainage 

Proper drainage is another key element of a successful and healthy garden. Controlled moisture levels allow the microbes in the soil that support healthy plants to increase considerably.

Wooden grow beds only drain out the very bottom and this means that the root-zone issues can be more prevalent and the wooden frame itself is subject to damage.

But fabric raised beds do not have this problem and water is allowed to drain away naturally once it has reached a critical moisture capacity.  

3. No Risk of Wood Rot 

Wood is a strong material, but it is also susceptible to the effects of moisture and wood rot is a common issue with raised bed gardens using wooden bed frames.

If the wood is not properly treated with moisture resistant polymer coatings, and even if it is, wood rot can still be an issue. But this is not an issue you will face with raised fabric beds.

The secret is PVC piping used in the framework that supports a UV-stabilized Polypropylene treated fabrics that are made of double-bonded polyester that is made to last for many years of happy gardening.  

4. Fabric Raised Bed are Durable

Raised fabric beds are considerably lighter than the conventional wooden variety and they last much longer. The fully-assembled raised fabric bed only weighs about 10 lbs.

But don’t let the lightweight fool you. These raised fabric beds can last for many years with proper care and attention.  

5. Ease of Assembly 

Fabric raised beds can be assembled in just a few minutes and no tools are required. This makes the setup for your garden an easy task and can even be accomplished by kids and the elderly with no straining or struggle. 

Fabric Raised Beds are Portable

6. Fabric Raised Beds are Portable

Even when they have been fully assembled and filled with soil and fully grown plants, the planter system will allow for easy portability.

The sturdy frames are also lightweight and can be easily placed onto a pallet and wheeled about in a greenhouse. Pallet jacks can also be used to move the fabric beds to their proper place within a greenhouse environment.   

7. Lower Cost 

Finally, a beginning gardener will need the most simplistic introduction to the art and science of gardening. Fabric raised beds offer amateur gardener solutions that greatly simplify the process.

This makes them ideal for getting started on your own small to medium scale agricultural projects.

Benefits of a Raised Bed Garden

Considering a raised garden bed? This article will look at the benefits and also the sort to choose.

1. No Tilling Is Better for Soil

A raised bed is a great way to set up your soil for the easiest gardening possible

A raised bed is a great way to set up your soil for the easiest gardening possible. Instead of tilling up the soil from year to year then adding soil amendments and fertilizer, gardeners typically maintain raised beds by just adding materials on top.

Manures, mulches, compost, and various other soil conditioners can all go directly onto the few top inches of soil in the raised bed without any need for backbreaking work.

The soil is perfectly capable of doing its own tilling as roots and worms push their way through. Regular tilling done by human hands usually depletes the soil structure, but doing nothing helps to build up your soil’s organic component over time.

2. Raised Beds Look Better

It might seem like pure vanity, but having nicer-looking beds can have a practical use. In the city, particularly if you want to get away with a front yard vegetable garden, a raised bed could be exactly what you need to keep your neighbors happy.

Raised beds can also make it a bit easier to maintain pathways since there is a defined line between the path and bed.

3. No Straining Your Back

A raised garden bed can help to resolve debilitating joint and back pain

You might be surprised by just how much knee and back strain can happen by simply weeding a garden, particularly a large one, and this may take a serious toll over time.

A raised bed, however, especially one that’s at least 12-inches tall can help to resolve debilitating joint and back pain.

Even younger members of society that might be interested in farming as a career option also need to consider the possible damage to your back that organic farming can do through hand weeding.

You should instead consider raised beds as an investment in your health.

4. Raised Beds Keep Out Critters

Slugs may climb, but the tall raised garden box sides help in slowing them down and can even help stop them in their tracks. Gardeners swear that slugs won't crawl over copper flashing that often borders your box.

You may even install hardware cloth on the bottom of the box to ensure that your root crops aren’t stolen by crawling critters like groundhogs.

Furthermore, due to their height, dogs are far less likely to urinate on your plants directly. If deer are a problem where you live, you may even add deer fencing to your bed directly, or buy a box that has an in-built deer fence. 

Adding plastic hoops to raised beds is  also much easier for bird barriers, row covers, or cold frames.

5. Raised Garden Bed Soil Has Better Drainage

If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding or has marshy yards, a raised garden bed may be the only way to have a full growing season. 11-inches is the most popular depth for a raised bed and this is 1 inch below the sides of a 12-inch-high garden box.

For the vast majority of crops, this is sufficient drainage and gives your plants close to 1 foot of additional breathing room above wet conditions. Raised beds also usually drain better in general, even when it rains heavily.

6. You Will Have Less Crab Grass and Fewer Weeds

The process of tilling has the unfortunate consequence of creating more weeds since it involves burying weed seeds, which gives them the perfect opportunity for propagation.

Successful raised bed growers swear by covering their beds with cardboard, mulch, or black plastic in the spring to kill off all the plants that grew up during winter.

When it is time to start planting once more, all you have to do is just rake off the dead weeds before they even have the opportunity to go to seed.

A raised bed is one of the most effective ways to battle crabgrass. Install a weed barrier on the bottom of the beds at least 10-inches in height to stop the grass from infiltrating.

Raised garden bed has less crab grass and fewer weeds

7. Planting Can Be Done Earlier in the Season

Largely attributed to better soil drainage, early planting in raised beds is actually possible since the soil dries out quicker in the spring and warms much faster for planting compared to soil at ground level.

Many gardeners also find a surprising number of plants have overwintered in a raised bed that should not have. Again, this largely depends on the type of soil in the bed.

If it is untilled and fortified with compost, your soil will be better able to regulate temperatures than disturbed, nutrient deficient soil.

8. Raised Beds Can Be Temporary

Renters that want to have a garden should first discuss this with their landlord by showing them a wonderful photo of a raised bed. A neat, tidy and properly built garden box has the potential to boost property values and be a feature rather than an eyesore.

If the landlord still rejects this request, it is still possible to build a temporary garden using a removable garden box. The box is set on the ground, cardboard placed over the grass inside, and the box filled with soil. 

When it comes time to move, you can take the box with you, spread out the soil and then throw down grass seed again.

9. Raised Beds Avoid Contaminated Soil

Urban gardeners face a greater risk of ingesting heavy metals such as lead. Many different vegetables, particularly tomatoes, roots, and greens, absorb heavy metals from contaminated soils and may pose a serious threat.

Positioning your beds away from the road, researching the past uses of your land, as well as planting thick hedges may all help, but raised beds give you the unique opportunity to bring in new soil that has not been subjected to the toxicity on site.

Toxicity is also reduced to a great extent through the addition of compost, diluting the concentration of contamination with each passing year and actually binding the heavy metals to the soil particles, which is yet another impressive benefit of compost.

10. Ideal for Beginners

Raised beds provide a simple way to get started with gardening by removing barriers for beginners. They might require a bit more investment up front, but in a variety of ways ensure success in the first year.

Add a box, some soil, some compost, some seeds, some water, and something will definitely grow.

“Row crows” cannot boast similar success: till, fertilize, till again, plant seed, weed, weed some more… the process is not as clear as the one provided by a raised bed.

About the Author Pat Moreno

Pat is our gardening tool expert here at Sumo Gardener. Working for many years as a private and commercial landscaper, Pat has used almost every type of gardening tool there is. Along with a vast knowledge for types of plants and putting together an amazing looking and maintainable garden, Pat developed a passion for gardening tools as he found that using the right tools vastly improved the ease and outcome of any landscaping job he undertook. When spending hours, days or years using a particular tool, you want to make sure you’ve got the best one for the job, and Pat is the right guy to guide us to the best gardening tools.

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