Raised garden beds are increasingly popular due to their appearance, easier access to maintain, and help minimize the risk of pests and weeds.
Building a raised garden bed takes a lot of work and patience from designing to choosing the right materials. It is important to protect raised garden beds so that they last longer and your plants flourish.
There are several different factors that you need to take into account when it comes to protecting raised garden beds:
- Protecting the material used so that it lasts longer and is not harmful to you, the soil, or plants that are grown e.g. weatherproofing wood
- Lowering the risk of plants being eaten by pests
- Minimizing the number of weeds that can grow in your beds
- Ensuring your plants and soil in your raised garden beds survive the winter months.
This post will cover a variety of ways you can protect your raised garden beds keeping these factors in mind.
By protecting your garden beds, you will ensure they last longer, the soil quality is not lost, and your plants grow healthy and strong.
How to Protect the Materials Used
If using natural materials such as wood, you need to ensure the wood is protected. Unprotected wood will rot very quickly when it has been exposed to the rain, leaving you with extra expenses to remake your raised garden beds and dispose of the old, rotted wood.
You can protect the wood by either purchasing pre-treated wood or, painting it with a preservative yourself.
Protect Raised Garden Beds from Pests
Though we do want to encourage certain wildlife into our gardens such as pollinators, deer, and even hedgehogs as they benefit our garden. There are a whole host of animals and insects that cause more damage than good.
Wildlife such as slugs, snails, and even squirrels, can all play havoc on your garden!
Although planting your crops in your raised garden beds lowers the risk of pests compared with planting directly on the ground, it doesn’t eliminate them.
The best way to deal with these garden pests is to use a raised garden bed cover.
Covers help to create a protective barrier between your plants and pests. An ideal cover is one that still provides height so that your plants have room to grow. You can use garden hoops that attach to your raised garden beds and can have a cover added over the top. This provides protection as well as a secure structure.
Here are 2 different ideas for using a cover to protect your raised garden beds:
Plastic is relatively cheap and can last a couple of seasons before it needs replacing. Using a plastic covering helps protect your raised garden bed not only from pests but also from heavy rains.
Heavy rains are damaging to your soil as they can leech the soil from nutrients due to too much rainwater. They also compact the soil, decreasing the amount of drainage which harms your plants.
Plastic covers also help retain heat from the sun throughout the year, particularly during the spring and summer months.
However, plastic is not environmentally friendly and will need replacing after a couple of seasons. In the long run, a plastic covering may come out more expensive due to the number of times it needs fixing or repurchasing.
A mesh is much more sustainable and durable than plastic. Mesh covers can be fixed if they are broken and last between 5-10 years.
Finer mesh suited to insects is ideal for protecting your crops from pests. Similar to plastic covers, mesh covers also protect crops and your soil from heavy rain. However, it does not retain heat from the sun, so in the winter months, your raised garden beds may require additional protection.
If choosing to use mesh, be sure to use a fine mesh and secure this firmly. Otherwise, the mesh can become a hazard to local wildlife such as birds. Birds are beneficial to your garden as they are a natural predator of the pests that feed on your crops.
How to Protect Raised Garden Beds in Winter
Your plants and soil in raised garden beds also need protection during the winter. The cold weather can lower the quality of your soil which has a negative impact in spring when it comes to growing the next season’s plants.
To protect the soil in raised garden beds, you can either use a fleece cover or, plant winter crops.
A fleece cover is a great idea if you have bulbs or perennial plants you wish to protect over the winter months. The fleece helps to retain warmth and prevent the frost from setting in on your crops.
However, if you have planted mostly annual plants, or chose to grow crops and have finished the growing season, planting winter crops may be the best option for you.
Winter crops such as buckwheat and winter rye grow well during the colder months. They help to improve the quality of the soil by adding nutrients such as nitrogen and also retaining water.
If soil is left unprotected over the winter, the cold weather can lead to soil erosion and the removal of nutrients essential for plants.
This then leads to you needing to replace the soil each year with high-quality compost before being able to plant new crops.
By using a fleece cover and/or planting winter crops will help protect your current crops as well as improve the quality of soil in your raised garden beds.
Each of these methods of protecting your raised garden beds addresses several concerns from pests to colder weather. Using a combination of these methods will help to ensure your raised garden beds
- last longer,
- require less maintenance,
- lower your care costs,
- and protect the plants and soil within each bed.
For more top tips on using raised garden beds in your garden, take a look at the following posts: