About 4 years ago I decided to change our garden and implement raised beds. I’ve never regretted that decision and a couple years following I took a chance and made some tall raised planters that inspired one of my favorite projects the easy reach raised bed; you can find that here.
There were several reasons why I wanted to garden taller and it had nothing to do with saving space because we had plenty. The reasoning was to add dimension and creative planting spaces, this was followed by what I call gardening convenience.
I quickly noticed with taller beds there was opportunity to establish a fantastic foundation from the ground up. Other perks included less bending over, fewer weeds, great drainage and moisture which meant less watering.
The First Tall Planters
I started with this trio made from scrap 2 x 4’s; these were pieces of wood left over from previous projects. This fun build offered time to learn if tall raised beds would be something I might like. It was less than a month and I was hooked, DIY instructions can be found here.
This led me to experiment with containers and continue building because at the time there was a lot of scrap wood sitting on shelves.
Additional Tall Planter ideas
I built several planters with a red theme to match our farm; they varied in size and made a nice presentation around the front of our home. Filling these planters with dirt didn’t take long because they weren’t very large. Natural matter in addition to soil was also included to give these planters a boost.
Rather quickly I uncovered 2 x 4 solid frames handled the soil weight much better than thin wood like fence boards. This was kind of a lesson learned but also an easy fix.
Building Taller Planters to Last
This box was made for something entirely different but it’s a great example because there’s a combination of wood, including 2 x 4’s and cedar fence boards. The frame is strong but the walls are not very thick so over time they will need to be replaced. I’m recommending a few solutions to make this container longer lasting.
- Double up the walls with those same cedar fence boards
- Use a different piece of thicker wood
- Enclose with galvanized steel panels
I prefer wood because it gets really hot down south and when steel heats up this can be stressful on the plants and interfere with their progression. If you like galvanized just make sure to place in areas where they receive no more than 6 – 8 hours of sunlight during the day.
Additional Tall Planter Options
I’ve also used weird things for taller planting like recycled burn barrels, galvanized garbage cans and galvanized tanks. These options are going to last longer than wood but eventually they’ll rust and also need replacing, but you know what? That’s just part of the process.
What I like about these containers they add a level of interest and the opportunity to create a space that’s unique from most traditional gardens.
The Easy Reach Raised Bed
The easy reach raised bed is probably one of my favorites. Robert and I designed it together when I was doing workshops for Texas Home and Garden. The idea was to create a tall larger raised bed to help people garden longer. As we age the body changes and I remember for years watching my grandma get up and down in the garden and sometimes she lost her balance falling to the ground.
She stopped gardening in her early 90’s and passed away at 96… I often think if she had raised beds like this she could have continued doing what she loved by sitting and gardening on a smaller scale. You can’t look back and change things but you can learn from those examples by planning a gardening future that compliments doing what you love.
The Design Style
With this bed, the frame interlocks by using Landscaping timbers; it offers a safe way to garden as it’s open from the bottom, filled with soil and natural elements till you reach the top. It’s a little pricey to install but if you add the levels in stages you can stretch the expense so it’s not overwhelming. Learn more about this design here.
Last year I made a similar style out of necessity using reclaimed wood that also might be of interest here. This one won’t last as long but it’s shows you that the opportunity to grow taller is simply awesome.
So, what were the key things that really grabbed my attention about taller raised beds?
- They centered around doing things different from everyone else/
- Maintenance decreased like weeding and watering.
- The most recognizable difference was how wonderful the plants were responding.
Which takes me back to the foundation and how these beds were established on the inside. This system can also be found in my new book Startle Garden and it’s also mentioned here.
My Favorite, The Startle Garden Design
Through trial and error, I finally found the design that worked for my garden style and I introduced it this year in my book, Startle Garden. Building plans can also be found here and like the easy reach beds each level can be incorporated over time.
I love these smaller raised beds spread out in different heights. These layouts are easy to maintain and allow amazing plant growth. The possibilities are endless and I’ll be sharing every new layout when I install these gardens at the new property, Quail Grove.
If you like these ideas and have been seeking for ways to garden with taller raised beds, I’d like to recommend the safer options I’ve shared today. Each one has been established from the ground up which means you don’t need to be concerned with raised beds on stilts that may tilt and cause harm later.
Taller raised beds are a blast and it’s my hope you add a couple to your garden and see what you think.