Raised beds vs Sunken beds

or are you level-bedded?

Many people are building raised beds on their plots. These constructions have been made popular by TV gardening and make-over programmes, but are they a good idea?

Like most things, it depends on the circumstances and raised beds have many disadvantages as well as some contexts where they are useful.

Below is a summary comparison between raised and sunken beds. There are also some links to websites with both the pros and cons of raised beds.

Pros and Cons of raised beds

Advantages of raised beds Disadvantages of raised beds
useful if your soil is waterlogged, or poorly drained
soil dries out quickly in droughts and heatwaves
useful if your soil is contaminated
needs a lot more watering
slightly less bending (depends how high they are raised)
treated wood contains heavy metal preservatives that may poison soil and contaminate crops
gives some structure to a plot
you have to buy soil or compost to fill them

require money to build

will eventually rot and need safe disposal

less sustainable as you need to buy and transport them and the soil and water them

Kettering soil is know for its fertility so cannot easily be bettered by importing soil into a raised bed

What about sunken beds?

If your plot dries out quickly and requires a lot of watering in heatwaves, a sunken bed may improve yields.

In a sunken bed the vegetable bed is lower than the surroundings, so water stays in the soil and stays moist in dry weather.

Or are you level-bedded?

If in doubt, the level-headed may decide to stay level-bedded and get the benefits of our amazing Kettering soil and temperate climate.

Try the Goldilocks vegetable bed challenge?

(equal opportunity note - you can try this challenge whatever colour your hair is, no need for golden locks)

Carry out an experiment to find out which beds work best on your plot. Create 3 equal beds, one raised, one sunken and one level. Grow identical crops in each and treat them the same (eg feeding, weeding, watering) and measure your crop. Like Goldilocks and her porridge, you will find out which bed system is just right (for your plot).

Links

pros and cons from gardening know-how
RHS link
YouTube link
another pros and cons web page

a webpage on sunken beds


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