Raised Beds and Containers

The promise of fresh, locally grown produce is closer than it has ever been before because of the growing number of food gardens in the United States, which now number more than one in three families. However, not everyone who is a part of this gardening revolution has a backyard that is hidden away with an acre of arable soil. In point of fact, a significant number of the individuals contributing to the growth of this statistic do not even have a backyard. So, what is their secret to success?

Small-space gardeners have had to get creative to make most of the limited amount of outdoor area available to them; as a result, they have turned to portable and frequently temporary garden ideas. These gardens are springing up everywhere, employing two pillars of the urban farming movement: raised beds and patio planters or containers. These gardens can be found on balconies, patios, and other paved areas.

Raised garden beds

Raised beds are often put on top of bare soil in order to increase the health of the garden as well as accessibility. However, an increasing number of individuals are finding that with a few minor alterations, raised beds may also be used on top of paved surfaces. Not only can they raise beds to provide advantages such as extensive garden space at an affordable price, but they also provide versatility for people who have a greater area that needs to be filled.

Are they right for you?

You should use raised beds if any of the following apply:

  • You now have more room, and you want to cultivate a wide variety of foods that are good for your health and your body.
  • You can purchase raised garden bed kits that are already assembled, or you can create the sides for your beds using the materials that are available to you.
  • You are granted authorization to create a garden space that is semi-permanent.
  • You have access to nutrient-dense soil, so you can fill your beds with it and get your crops off to the greatest start possible.

When constructing raised beds on hard surfaces, drainage and staining are a pair of essential considerations that must be given careful attention.


Carry out a straightforward evaluation in order to guarantee that your elevated bed will not become flooded once it has been fitted. If your surface is made of concrete or asphalt, try pouring some water on it and observing where it runs off. In most cases, this will be toward the property perimeter or away from the structures on the land; still, it is essential to identify this now in order to prevent complications in the future.

Install your bed on the ground once it is finished, and then place a level on top of one of the long sides. First, you lift the end of the bed that has to be lifted to get it to the perfect level, and then you slide a wedge under it to block it in place. Have a couple of tiny blocks or wedges ready. Make sure that the bed is level across the breadth as well as the length. You should now be able to insert a few small blocks below the boards in the areas where they need to be permanently installed.

Preventing stains

After you have put in your raised garden bed, check the area around it to make sure there is no water leaking out. During normal gardening, there should be very little to no runoff coming from beneath, but runoff can occur if the bed is left under a sprinkler or if it rains heavily while the sprinkler is on.

Any water that does manage to escape from beneath the bed will be tainted with a brown color and will eventually leave a mark on the concrete. To steer clear of this:

  • Don't overwater.
  • During the winter, cover the beds.
  • Make sure there is a suitable amount of organic matter and nutrients in the soil so that absorption can be increased.

In the event that runoff does occur, use the hose to spray the contaminated area in order to dilute and spread the contaminant.


Include a raised bed liner in the construction of your beds if you wish to prevent leakage onto the surrounding regions. This will accomplish this goal. To prevent your soil from becoming waterlogged, check to see that it contains enough amount of organic matter capable of absorbing excess rainwater.

You also have the option of putting some kind of drainage material at the bottom of your bed. A raised bed that is constructed over concrete or pavement should have at least three inches of coarse gravel or stones covered with a geotextile membrane placed underneath it, as recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society. The membrane stops the drainage material from becoming clogged and mixing in with your soil, preventing these problems.

Soil depth

Make sure that your raised garden beds have a depth of at least 18 inches when you create them on top of hard surfaces. Beds with a depth of 12 inches are suitable for growing salads and herb gardens, but beds with a deeper depth are more versatile for growing a variety of vegetable crops. Because plant roots will not have the opportunity to travel into soil that is below ground level, you will need this depth to ensure healthy plant roots and to limit the amount of water that will be required. Please refer to our page that discusses the soil depth requirements for raised beds for further information.

Things to keep in mind

  • The pH of concrete is high. This could, in the long run, have an effect on the soil in your raised beds. Conduct regular pH readings with a meter, and make necessary adjustments.
  • In general, raised beds constructed on black pavement will have higher requirements for moisture than those constructed on a lawn or other natural substrate. When determining how often to water, make sure to keep this in mind.
  • It will be impossible for helpful organisms such as earthworms to penetrate raised garden beds from below if those beds have a hard surface. Thankfully, there are a variety of additional approaches you may take to introduce worms into your garden. Add "live" amendments to your soil on a consistent basis, such as manure and healthy, living compost. This will help your soil maintain its health and its ability to support plant growth. These additions will not only make your soil healthier, but they will also introduce new organisms that are good for the ecosystem.

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