The most requested outdoor feature for the 2015 backyard is…(insert drumroll here) the raised vegetable planter. Are you surprised? With so many Canadians growing their own vegetables at home now, the raised planter has become the must-have item. Raised planters have some significant benefits over just plowing out a section in your preciously manicured lawn.Before you tear up your lawn that you’ve been properly caring for and paying good money to have it maintained by pros, consider these reasons for having a raised planter built in your backyard.
A large portion of weeds that live in our yards travel under the soil via rhizomes (rootlets). With a raised bed, you can place a liner at the bottom to completely prevent new ones invading your soil. Even the weeds that spread via seeds, like dandelions, have a harder time getting over the walls of your garden providing less competition for your veggies.
More related to this story: Check out this story on getting rid of even the toughest weeds.
Vermin like gophers and ground hogs are limited in their ability to get into the beds because they don’t jump. A planter that is 20” tall is even effective in stopping some rabbits, as they are reluctant to leave the safety of the ground. If you have a real pest problem, consider putting your planters on legs!
Note: If you can’t keep critters off your lawn, why not peruse our directory of lawn care professionals? They’ll help identify the problem and work to fix it for you!
While the soil in your yard might be great for trees and perennials, vegetables like to get special treatment. Filling your beds with a high-grade triple mix (topsoil, peat, and compost or manure) ensures that your tomatoes are getting the best. Another benefit to adding your own soil is that you can better control compaction, making it easier for the roots of the plants to access more nutrients and water and producing better returns for you!
Gardening where you can reach it without having to bend over! It’s a dream for anyone who has strained their back digging on their knees in a vegetable bed. Higher definitely makes it easier, but also consider how you can control the pathways in between the beds, making them level and more stable for walking. One caution: don’t make your raised bed too wide! Keep them between 4 and 5 feet so that you can easily reach into the middle.
No one can deny that a raised bed just looks good. They are neat and tidy with all of the soil contained in one space. Having multiple beds is perfect for those like me who want organization even outdoors.
Choose the right fertilizer
As important as it is to consider having a raised garden bed, it’s equally important to research the type of fertilizer you’ll be using in your new garden. I recommend using manure as a soil conditioner for the following reasons:Here’s an overview of the best choices:
- Raw manure releases large amounts of nitrogen, which can burn your plants.
- Manure is full of natural bacteria, such as E.coli or other pathogens and is often sterilized before it is sold to consumers.
- This sterilization also helps remove the weed seeds that are naturally passed through the animal and can end up straight in your garden.
Did you know? When it comes to choosing manure, you have choices!
- Cow manure has a lower nutritional value for plants, but is excellent as an all-purpose amendment for your existing soil. Cows have multiple stomachs, which means that they are better at digesting their food and breaking down the organic matter and the weed seeds.
- Chicken manure is definitely the best for your leafy greens as it contains the highest amounts of nitrogen. This also means that you need to be extra careful to ensure that it is well composted or it can definitely do damage to your tender plants.
- Horse manure is another good all-purpose soil conditioner, which is relatively low in nutrients. The big issue with the horse digestive system is that they only process about a quarter of the weeds seeds. The rest go straight into the garden and start to grow.
Want to learn more? Here’s Carson talking about manure on Cityline:
Make it a DIY
This year, I built my own raised planters complete with trellises for beans and peas. My garden is probably a little big for most homeowners, as I installed over 25 raised beds that hold more than 45 yards of soil.
Instead of using expensive cedar, I used a new treated product called MicroPro Sienna, which releases significantly less copper into the soil than the pressure treated alternative, making it a better choice for around your edibles.
Whether you go big like I did and make a 15-year investment, or just put in a single planter that can be relocated if trends change, building a raised bed is easy and definitely worthwhile! This summer, grow what you eat!
Get started by harvesting your own tomatoes! Carson shows us how:
More on this story: The eieihome.com editor wrote a detailed story on building your own vegetable garden! Be sure to check it out before you get your raised beds in order!
Is your lawn ready for gardening, or needs a bit of sprucing up? Contact one of our lawn care and maintenance professionals. They’ll get your backyard in tiptop shape before you start building your garden bed!