Welcome! In my previous post we discussed the preparation of your raised garden bed, from choosing your site to your material. Today I want to discuss whether a kit (prepared DIY raised bed) will fulfill the ideal bed you have planned. I will tell you right off the bat, that I noticed a few peculiarities with the products I want to discuss here. But they aren’t all negative! We will have a look at variety, versatility and quality.
Among the suppliers, there is quite some variety. From plastic, corrugated sheets, pine, cedar through to a combination of these choices. A material that I hoped to see was stone which was absent from the majority of suppliers, which is a let down since stone’s durability far outweighs the other materials. So if you were hoping on spending a larger budget on a large project, your options are very limited. But then again, with a larger budget you might as well hire someone or plan a creative project on you own.
As far as I can tell, the suppliers cater for the entry level or cheaper options for their clients which leaves a gap for people who wish to invest in unique designs. On the topic of designs, there is limited choice, as you will mostly find the traditional square design with sizes that will only hold a small garden. A few designs for a walk-in raised are present but certainly not a large variety.
When I think about versatility, I consider the plant species you can plant as well as the scale of the project you can create in a single raised bed. Another versatile function of garden beds is to be aesthetic and socially functional (I was looking for built in benches as well as protection).
The secondary functions that raised beds can serve are not addressed in the straightforward designs that suppliers offer. They are opting for cheap, easily placed designs above the more eccentric tastes that you ought to find in a private garden. Don’t get me wrong, cheap is good, but for the creative mind to be at ease in especially gardening; there simply aren’t enough options available. Protection against pets and children squishing your seedlings is something the suppliers have considered as there are ample products out there that include raised legs and fences.
My first impression was that the cheaper options do not offer enough quality for your raised garden
bed to survive many a season to come. The intermediate options do address that by making use of steel and even offering extra accessories to support progressive gardening.
There is one thing though, for my local readers in South Africa, I have noticed an extreme price range for raised garden bed kits. It is much more expensive than its US counterpart. I think, in my opinion that the trend is taking root in the US, hence why the basic designs are actively advertised. In other parts of the world, I would imagine the price would fall as the trend grows and more local suppliers offer this product.
I see a great deal of kits sold with untreated wood, which offers you as the client the option to add your own treatment of choice. This is ideal if you plan on growing vegetables as the treatment of the wood is a big no in organic produce. Be careful when buying kits with treated wood or rather opt in to use rot resistant wood. Both topics have been discussed in my previous post which you can find here.
Plastic, this the base option. I’m not a big fan of plastic, but more on that in another article. With a limited budget this option will work in the short term. I picture that a wood raised garden kit will add a rustic effect as it degrades over time; plastic on the other hand will not look the same after one season outside.
An intermediate option that would consider is corrugated sheets. They keep your budget on the cheap side with the additional sturdiness that wood would offer.
For more info on why I am not a big fan of plastic visit the Clean Seas initiative. My environmentalist side kicked in for a moment, but it is still an important topic.
As the trend is taking root in the US, the product is definitely worth it there. The option that are available is something that grow as more people become aware of the advantages of raised garden bed kits. I would like to hear from the readers in other countries. Is this product available there? do you consider it affordable?
I know in South Africa it is currently expensive as the initial notice of the trend is taking place. With more awareness, I think the price will even out.
Overall, the traditional kits that are available is a good starting point for beginners and those who wish fulfill a practical goal in their growing season. I would even recommend combing kits to get more out of your product!
I want to play on your creative strings, because this is your garden after all! I would buy a pre-built kit and use it resources build something more creative out of it. 😛
I want you to imagine walking into your local botanical garden or park. The picturesque landscapes that they create should be an indicator on which raised bed kit will have that ideal appearance in your garden without sacrificing its practicality. No one ever said you should choose between just one of the two!
What did you think of this article? Leave a comment!