10+ Tips to Help You Grow a Great Raised Bed Garden

Here's everything you need to elevate your harvest with a raised bed garden.

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Best Choice Products Raised Garden Bed
via amazon.com

Choose the Right Bed for Your Yard

I love raised bed gardens for two important reasons: flexibility and control. Pick a sunny spot in your yard—four hours direct sun minimum—and get started with a 4×8 bed like this ($80). Tight space? Grow herbs in a smaller elevated bed ($190) on your patio or balcony.

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Spring Planting/ planting organic seedlings in a raised garden bed
C Levers/Shutterstock

Prepare the Soil

In a raised bed garden, you control the soil. If you don’t make your own compost, use bagged organic soil for raised beds to provide optimum growing conditions. Begin with soil designed for raised beds ($38). For extra oomph, I love to add worm castings ($28).

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Seedlings pepper. Gardening work.

Find a Good Fertilizer

A plant needs lots of energy to produce scrumptious tomatoes or a plethora of peppers. An occasional organic plant food boost, like Alaska Fish Fertilizer ($18), keeps your crops well-nourished and flourishing. And, no, your vegetables won’t taste like fish!

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Orbit 56044 Front Trigger 10 Pattern Turret Wand with Ratcheting
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Water Often

Raised beds generally require more moisture than in-ground gardens. Channel your inner kid and turn on the hose—I love a water wand with variable spray options ($21). Use this tool to give seedlings a fine mist, or to deeply soak larger plants. Psst! These secret ingredients will help your garden grow.

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GROWNEER 3-Pack Plant Cages
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Support Your Plants

Cucumbers climb, tomatoes reach for the sun, and everything else roams. Lesson learned! Plan ahead with supports from the get-go. A three-sided trellis is perfect for cukes, tall, sturdy supports ($50) corral the tomatoes, and a roll of twine ($12) is a staple to keep other plants in bounds.

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 Fiskars 99216935J Pruning Softouch Micro-Tip Snip
via amazon.com

Pick up the Right Tools

Yippee! Raised bed gardens rarely require big, heavy tools. However, great hand tools are essential. My favorites: This ergonomic tool set ($40) has almost everything you need. Then, add a Felco pruner ($61) and smaller snips ($15) to complete your kit.

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Organic urban garden in full growth at the end of the summer.
Arina P Habich/Shutterstock

Keep the Bugs at Bay

How do they know? The insect hotline telegraphs you’ve got good eats, and here they come! Keep your organic controls handy: Use insecticidal soap ($12) or worm and beetle dust ($21) to run the buggers off. These tricks will keep mosquitoes away from you.

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Maine Garden Hod
via amazon.com

Harvest Your Crop

You plan, plant and nurture. Then one day, it’s time to harvest and, wow, look at all of those veggies! Your raised bed garden has exceeded expectations—now you have to pick everything. This garden hod ($53) makes that easy. Rinse everything outdoors so clean produce comes into your kitchen (or try one of these tricks). Bon appetit!

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A male gardener sowing seeds on an allotment
Air Images/Shutterstock

Start from Seed

Most gardeners begin each season with small plants (called transplants). They’re easy, inexpensive, tried-and-true varieties. Eventually though, we start to notice the other options out there. That’s when we turn these heirloom seeds ($22) or possibly garlic sets ($7). Caution: It’s like opening Pandora’s Box!

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rain gauge in garden; Shutterstock ID 727027459; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOH Raised Bed Garden

Invest in Nice-to-Have Extras

Beyond the basics, there’s always more cool stuff for gardeners to have on hand. First, a rain gauge ($13). Besides precipitation, it measures how deeply the sprinkler waters. Then, there’s a lightweight garden hose ($72)—I keep one of these on my own deck. When not in use, I fold it up and tuck it out of sight so I can focus on my backyard.

Ellen Riley
As a free-lance writer and former Southern Living Associate Garden Editor, Ellen Riley has a knack for teaching readers to find joy in the garden (indoors and out) every day. Her approach is based on simplicity, ease, and success. When not in the garden, find her in the kitchen preparing the day's harvest or arranging a few flowers to share. Her latest adventure offers 4 hands-on gardening workshops in the Nashville area.