Gardening with Taller Raised Beds

Taller Raised Beds Benefits and Safer

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.

Choosing Smaller Size but Taller Raised beds for planting

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.

Taller Raised bed Structure

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.

 Taller Raised bed Structure

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. 

Startle Garden Book -Grow your best garden

The Beginning of a New Startle Garden

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.

Choose Safe Options for Taller Raised Beds

 

11 comments

  1. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    I’ve been watching the side year where we remove a huge oak tree to see just how much sun the area is receiving. The goal it to create some type of raise bed edible garden for next year. So far it’s June and I noticed there a decent spot that is in full sun from about 9:30 to 3 – 4 pm. I want to wait and see how that may change during July and August before creating my bed(s). I know one thing for sure, I will be using your Startle Garden book for guidance and inspiration.

    1. Carole says:

      Well I have to tell you I’m excited about this space because you’ve mentioned it in the past. I love that you’re investigating that space too, this is a step that is to many times overlooked so thank you for sharing that. Glad you’re finding SG helpful, that book is everything simplified all in one place which is so helpful. Hugs and hope you have a great weekend.

  2. Jemma says:

    We will be adding raised beds to our gardening projects in the Fall. I certainly can see how they would be a great way to conserve water and of course retain moisture and keep the armadillos and bunnies away!
    Great post Carole!
    Hugs,
    Jemma

    1. Carole says:

      Good Morning Jemma, You’ll love raised beds, especially when it gets really hot because it will allow you to extend the life of your garden during July and August. I saw a bunny yesterday headed to the garden he took one look at me and ran away. LOL… Smart bunny because Dixie wasn’t far behind. Blessings for a great weekend.

      Hugs,
      Carole

  3. Lynn Spencer says:

    Carole, I am a tall gal (5’11”) and would greatly benefit from these taller beds. Since we built our current raised beds from untreated wood, we seem to be replacing them each 2-3 years and think I’ll slowly start growing those beds taller and we replace them. What a great idea…one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ moments.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Hugs, Lynn

    1. Carole says:

      Trust me you will LOVE taller raised beds. SO that untreated wood get this, break up the old wood and line it in the bottom of the bed. Normally I do this with branches because it’s really good for the soil. I fill these beds in layers with natural materials in addition to soil. Glad you like this I’m hoping it helps additional gardeners with future planning.
      Thanks for stopping by and my friend really did enjoy your post – I have oyster shells on the brain now.

      Hugs,
      Carole

  4. Joey says:

    I would love to have raised beds like that. It’s on my gardening bucket list!

  5. Jane says:

    when we finally do our garden I will use your book and go for the raised beds. my hubby wants to build a greenhouse with raised beds outside. on the list!

    1. Carole says:

      Hey Jane, How are you?
      I love the idea of a greenhouse combined with raised beds, you could garden year round with something like that. Excited for you to implement a garden think you will really love it.

  6. I used raised bed gardening now, but would like to move to taller beds. I have a joint disorder and though I have good mobility now, I try to plan for the future. My concern is with filling the beds in. Can you put a ‘false bottom’ and avoid the weight, effort, and expense of filling the entire structure? Thanks, for such a great post!

    1. Carole says:

      Thinking about the future is smart!! I wouldn’t put in a false bottom because you would defeat the purpose of how these beds work from the ground up. Go to the links I’ve provided and you will see that filling these beds isn’t just about dirt. Hope that helps but the problem with not filling them from the ground up also makes them tipsy which can be dangerous – would be much worse to have a bed collapse.

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