When starting outdoor gardening, there are several options. Some of the popular methods are in-ground garden beds, raised garden beds, elevated raised garden beds, or pots/containers. Different ways have different advantages and disadvantages. Also in-ground method cheaper than other methods. When comparing a raised garden beds vs. in-ground gardens, there are several factors to consider. It should not be a decision made solely for the decoration of the garden.
Soil is the crucial factor when growing plants, including vegetables, flowers, and fruits. Other essential factors are soil drainage, temperature, and fertility. Furthermore, you have to consider how to minimize pests’ damages. If a plant does not get these essential growing conditions, the plant will stunt its development, or eventually, it can die.
Hence, first, you have to perform a good soil test; with a basic soil pH test, we can identify acidic or alkaline soil. By using that result, we can determine the soil nutrient level. Soil temperature also highly affects sustainable plant growth especially growing in cooler areas.
Raised garden beds are also called garden boxes. They are made from metal, wood, or even plastic. While shopping for such garden boxes, you can choose a box shape or U shape design. If the beds start from the ground level, they are called raised garden beds. When the beds are elevated using legs, they are generally called elevated raised garden beds. The only difference is these two garden boxes are in height from the ground level.
Raised garden beds vs. In-Ground gardens or Pots?
As I mentioned above, you have to consider the following factors before choosing your gardening bed type. Mainly you have to concern the garden soil type.
- Garden Soil texture.
There is a variety of different types of soil textures around the world. Soil texture is an amount of sand, silt, clay, and organic matter. According to the soil particles’ proportions, your garden soil can be close to the clay or close to sandy or loamy or sandy loamy or silt loam.
In raised beds and elevated beds, we can easily amend the soil texture. The main benefit of the above-the-ground gardening beds is we can easily use more soil amendments. If you live in the Southern United States, which has Ultisol (red clay soils), raised, beds are beneficial.
Too much clay soil not good when growing garden plants. On the other hand, too much sandy soil not good when growing houseplants. Therefore, you have to use a balance soil texture. When growing root crops like beetroot, carrot, and radish, these plants require loose soil. In tight soil, these plants’ root does not grow well.
Most garden plants prefer loamy soil, which is a balance of different mineral particles like sand, silt, and clay. Loam soil generally accepted mineral particles mixture is 7% to 27% clay, 28% to 50% silt, and less than 52% sand (source PDF – 5th page). These minerals are less than 2mm in diameter particles.
- Soil Drainage Level.
When comparing raised garden beds vs. in-ground gardens, soil drainage is critical. Most of the common garden plants require good drain soil. If the soil kept more moisture, it could cause root rot, but some of the houseplants require wet soil like the mint plant. If the soil more sandy, then it is not kept the soil moisture and quickly dry out the soil. On the other hand, that is not good for houseplants except for the succulent plant family. With a controlled bed, you can improve drainage by adding perlite or activated charcoal.
You can choose raised bed farming, in-ground beds, or elevated garden beds according to your soil drainage. If the soil close to clay, which has low drainage. In such a garden, it better not to select in-ground garden beds. In such places, raised beds necessary because you can use soil amendments like compost to improve the drainage. One of the significant advantages of garden boxes is it has a high level of drainage and use more soil amendments. Not only that, you can add earthworms to improve soil aeration and improve drainage through theirs burrows.
- Available Space.
This is another critical factor when choosing raised garden beds or in-ground beds, pots/containers, or elevated raised garden beds. When you are gardening in a limited space, better go with pots, elevated raised garden beds, or raised beds. While growing plants at indoor places, better choose pots and containers. For outdoor gardening in the backyard, you can choose either in-ground beds or other container-based garden beds. Depending on the available space, you have to consider the gardening beds. If you have a limited space backyard, you can go for elevated beds, containers.
- Climate condition.
Normally in-ground garden beds receive less temperature than other possible gardening options. Especially in the early spring, raised garden beds and elevated beds warm up faster than the in-ground beds. On the other hand, these outdoor garden box temperatures increase quicker in summer than in the in-ground beds. Since they are separated from the surface and covered by metal or wood material that can easily absorb temperature.
Thus, you have to decide the soil temperature level. When you go with metal raised garden bed, their temperature increase rapidly than plastic and wood-based beds. Hence, you have to consider the raised bed frame.
- Soil Fertility.
Soil fertility is a crucial factor when growing plants. If there are nutrient deficiencies, plants’ growth reduces. According to the soil pH level, we can easily identify the nutrient level.
Some plants require more acidic, some prefer more alkaline, and most of the plants prefer neutral levels. While the soil is more acidic, it has major nutrient deficiencies. Including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium, magnesium. These nutrients essential for plant growth. If the soil more acidic, raised garden beds necessary. Alternatively, you can use containers, elevated beds. At a neutral level is has balanced nutrients. You can easily amend soil fertility by using homemade compost.
- Less weeding
One of the main advantages of using raised beds can maintain less weeding. You can easily prevent weeds using leaf mulch, boiling water, shredded newspapers.
Apart from that, when using such outdoor garden beds, you can use sterilized soil. While using such soil, you easily prevent weeds and plant-borne diseases like fungus. Furthermore, you can continuously use that sterilized soil for several years without replacing it.
- Type of the plant.
Some houseplants require good space to grow their root system, especially edible root crops like carrots and beetroot. When selecting garden beds, you have to check the beds’ depth. If you grow this type of root crop in-ground beds, there is not such an issue.
Some of the houseplants easily take over other plants’ space. For instance, growing mint plants or vine plants. Therefore when growing such plants, better to use outdoor garden boxes. Then you can easily grow them in a separate space.