Raised beds have taken the garden world by storm by giving people a stress free gardening choice. There are so many varieties available to the consumer it is hard to choose one that fits all your needs. We have traveled quite a bit this year across the U.S. with our garden, the Eco Garden System, and have listened to numerous questions about elevated gardens from many different gardeners we have encountered at these events. Some of the comments range from “Is it chemical free?” to “Will it last?” Needless to say, elevated gardening is on the rise and consumers are looking for solutions to gardening headaches. How are they different in comparison? Here are a few points on three different elevated beds available and how you can choose one type or many types for your gardening needs.

Wicking Beds

The Eco Garden System is the largest wicking bed (as we know) on the market right now. It is made out of recycled food grade plastic (HDPE) that resists fading and cracking. It is durable and will last 20 or more years. Here is what makes Eco unique from other elevated wicking beds. Eco has an automated watering system which recycles the water below to sprinkle the top of your soil. This is very beneficial when germinating seeds and replacing nutrients to your plants. It uses 65 percent less water and because of the size of the garden there is less evaporation and salt build up that you can get with smaller wicking systems. The Eco garden bed is easy to install with fewer parts than other kit systems. It is also easy to clean and store, as well as move, if you relocate. (No garden left behind!) The Eco system also has about an inch air gap between the grate platform and the water reservoir that is beneficial for optimal plant growth. This system has a float stop on it so you do not have to worry about leaving the water on to fill it. Once it is filled, it will stop the hose from running. You have the option to leave your hose hooked up or unhook and put away. Using a coconut coir or peat moss as the first layer will allow water to wick up to your soil. It is a great way to plant a garden without bending, digging, or pulling a hose around. Due to the self-watering nature it has higher yield numbers and the ability to plant and replant as needed. It is durable and heavy enough to withstand high winds and once empty, it is very easy to move indoors for longer growing season. Because it is contained with an enclosed bottom it can easily be used indoor without a mess. In states where drier conditions and certain insects, such as termites are prevalent, the Eco system is an excellent choice to maintain the moisture and to deter those pesky insects.

The Eco Garden system is durable, washable, moveable, recyclable and self-watering! No waste here!

When looking at the cons for this type of bed it would be that it is heavy once filled and due to the recycled food grade plastic(that is Eco friendly) it can be expensive!

Cedar beds

Cedar wood beds are beautiful beds that can enhance the natural look of your garden area. I mention cedar because it is a popular wood that is used for elevated beds. It has a natural resistance to rot and can hold up in extreme weather. It is expensive and over time can lose its color and appeal. After just one season, the elevated cedar bed I purchased already looks dull and grey and the boards are bowing out at the sides. I plan to stain it this summer, but it still will look as if it will need to be replaced sooner than later. It was not a very big area to plant in, but it was lightweight and easy to move. It had to be watered often due to the elevation and the closed bottom. (No vacation here unless someone cares for it while you are away) If you don’t purchase one that is already assembled, you will have to consider cost of materials and the time it will take to build one. Please note that regardless of its ability to withstand rotting it will deteriorate over a certain amount of time and will have to be replaced.

The Cedar garden beds are beautiful, rot resistant, lightweight and biodegradable!

The cons for this bed are that after time and money they will have to be replaced. They do lose their color and appeal unless you stain and maintain them. Cedar is expensive and can add up after several seasons of replacing.

Composite Wood beds

Composite wood is made of wood fiber and UV- protected polypropylene. It is a popular material for decks and planters due to its ability to withstand rot and weather extremes. My deck is currently made out of it and after two summers it has faded a little and some of the railings are bowing. It is washable and lightweight and can be stacked for taller beds. Composite wood is easy to assemble and can be built using different designs. It is a less expensive garden kit than the two mentioned above. However, even though it can be an added attractive asset to any garden area, over time it will need to be replaced. Watering again is similar to the cedar bed and will need to be maintained even when you are away.

The composite wood bed is easy to assemble, lightweight, washable, and rot resistance!

The cons for these types of beds are that they will fade after so many seasons and must be replaced and rebuilt. The material is lightweight and can feel flimsy and cheap.

It is entirely up to you as the gardener to choose what works best for you and the spot you want to put your garden. These are three options that can help you weigh what fits your needs. If you travel a lot for work or leisure, but want a garden, the Eco Garden bed is a good option for you. If a more natural look fits your style and you don’t mind replacing after time, than the cedar bed is a better choice. If designing your garden with different angles and heights is appealing to you than the wood composite is a creative option. If all of these motivate you, than by all means put a combination of all three and create a garden paradise! #gardendifferent

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