Which Raised Beds are Best?

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Metal or wood? High or Low? How much? We can all grow vegetables at home but we need to answer a few questions first… so today lets get into which raised beds are best?

Green plants growing in a just viable wooden raised bed

Anyone, anywhere can grow food.

A bold statement, I know, but I fully believe it.

Even if you live in an apartment, you can grow herbs and maybe tomatoes on a sunny windowsill. It all counts!

But if you have a garden, then raised beds are a great way to jump into growing all kinds of food for you and your family.

Why Raised beds?

You may ask why bother with raised beds at all? If you’ve got room for a raised bed, you’ve probably got room to grow in the ground, right?

Well, probably, but there are advantages to growing in raised beds, especially in a suburban garden:

Soil quality

Since we are growing food to eat, it’s much easier to control the type of soil that your food is going to grow in in a raised bed. Growing in the ground requires testing to see what nutrients are present in the soil and to add things to adjust for the missing ones, amending the soil. Since you’re going to make compost, or buy the soil in, you have much more control over that.

Soil in raised beds tends to drain better than normal ground soil, and usually warms up a bit quicker at the start of the season, so can be planted in quicker.

If you’re going to spend money on soil, you want to make sure it stays where you put it, and the raised sides of the bed helps it all to stay in place in heavy rain, instead of washing away.

Pest control

I have definitely not conquered this one (who has??) but creating a barrier between the pests and the food definitely helps a little. And containing the plants in a designated area means its quicker to address a (slug) problem much more quickly than if they were planted straight in the ground.

Close up of a snail on a branch

It just looks pretty!

Don’t underestimate the power of an attractive garden! I know I want to be out there much more when I like how it looks. Anything that combines form and function is a win in my book!

So which raised bed?

The main types of raised beds are wooden; think scaffold planks or sleepers, or metal, which tend to be taller and usually corrugated.

There are pros and cons to each one, so lets take a look at the things to consider


Probably the first consideration when starting out, at least it was for me.

low wooden raised bed with bare compost, and green hoops and net

Wooden beds are definitely initially the cheaper option to get started with, and if you are handy with a drill and have some wood laying around, could end up being REALLY cheap to put together.

Wooden beds do not last though, as I found when I moved mine around this year and they all pulled apart! Obviously the weather gets to them, and since I am trying to grow organically (as much as I can in a city!) I am not treating them chemically. I will probably have to replace my beds in two or three years time, which is obviously going to cost more money.

A tall green corrugated rectangle raised bed with green hoops and net

Metal beds are definitely a bigger initial outlay of cash, I’m not going to lie.

Not only is there the price, they are usually deeper too so filling them with compost can be costly, unless you have some tricks up your sleeve *wink wink*

However… they usually last a lot longer than the wooden beds so that initial investment is all you will pay.

Shape and size

Another obvious consideration is what size and shape you want to make your beds.

Wooden beds can be made to any size and shape you like.

You can make them tall or short, square, rectangular, or L-shaped, any way you need. What you will need are some basic wood working skills, or access to someone who can cut the wood for you.

Metal beds are much more prescribed sizes, although there are some designs that let you customise the shape with adjustable panels and corners to give some flexibility.

A modular L-shaped wooden raised bed with plants and green hoops and net

However you can’t change the height of metal bed very easily, where as a wooden bed can be adjusted if you find it needs changing.


Let’s talk about height for a minute.


Some plants need deep soil for their roots, like some of the root vegetables, or if you can grow tomatoes outside, (lucky you!) they require some deeper containers and it may benefit them to have that bit extra soil under them that a deeper bed provides.

However, it isn’t always necessary. It may be how you use it that we need to look at.

Gardening is great all round exercise, but it is worth considering what sort of height to make your beds.

A wooden bed 20cm/8inches from the floor might not work for you if you cannot kneel for long. A taller bed would definitely be a better idea for anyone with mobility issues.

A green corrugated tall raised bed

While you can, of course, get high wooden beds, metal beds tend to be higher, and as we mentioned, the more wood in the bed, the more wood to replace as wear and tear takes hold.


It could just come down to which you prefer. Honestly, if you’ve weighed it all up, you might prefer the look and feel of the natural wood and don’t mind replacing every few years.

Or you may like the colour varieties in the metal beds and that clean uniform look you get from metal beds.

Or, like me, you may like both!

I have had both for a year now, and I have to say I find delight in both.

We are surrounded by cats here and the higher metal beds are much harder for them to get in where as before I used covers, I lost many lettuces to cats using my low beds as a litter box… ewww indeed!

A raised bed garden, with 5 beds, two green tall beds in the front and 3 low wooden raised beds behind

My carrots are much bigger in the metal beds but my peas prefer to be closer to the ground in my low wooden beds, so I can put a bigger trellis up for them to vine up.

Imperfectly Perfect

My garden is a work in progress. I’ve added twice as many beds and moved the greenhouse since last year, so there is still lots to do. I want some lovely gravel paths, and a small fence to frame it, and a new archway to enter my part of the garden. But those things will have to wait. Now is the time to plant seeds and watch in wonder as they somehow grow into food that I can feed my family and I with. So when the supermarket shelves are empty, I’m not daunted.

And you don’t have to be, either.

Let me know in the comments what’s your favourite way to grow food? Don’t forget to share this page. Thanks friends x

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