The Benefits of Utilising Metal Raised Beds
By Ed Powell
Author bio: Ed Powell is a landscaping and steel products expert and the founder and director of Steel Landscaping Co.
Metal raised garden beds are becoming an essential accessory for those looking to grow everything from vegetables and herbs to flowers and shrubs. They offer distinct advantages over planting in the earth, including increased root health, superior drainage, decreased soil compaction and much more.
The beauty of raised garden beds is that you don’t need a large space to reap the rewards of a healthy and productive plant growth, their portability means they can be placed on patios, balconies, and any other flat outdoor surface.
They can also be utilised in conjunction with traditional gardening if you’re looking to grow a particular plant that isn’t keen on the soil type in your area. In this piece, we’ll be covering the myriad of benefits of metal raised garden beds and what you need to consider when purchasing one for your garden.
Why Choose a Metal Raised Garden Bed?
There are many reasons why a raised garden bed is the ideal solution for your garden, whether you’re looking for something more practical and compact where space is at a premium, or you are on the lookout for something to supplement your current gardening arrangement.
Metal raised garden beds offer greatly improved drainage. This is because the earth can become easily compacted due to increased footfall and rain, which prevents the soil from draining naturally.
The raised bed soil does not suffer from the same level of compaction, it increases oxygen flow, prevents over watering and keeps the soil at an optimum growing temperature, which we will cover in more detail in the next point.
Increased Soil Temperatures
As the soil in raised beds drains more quickly, it means it warms up quicker during the spring.
This means you may be able to plant earlier in the spring than you might otherwise have done. Not only does this give you a longer period to enjoy your plants, but it is also an ideal early food source for a range of animals and insects.
Enhanced Root Vitality
Adding quality topsoil mixed with a healthy application of fertiliser and compost creates the perfect conditions for root health and vitality.
Increased root health helps to absorb more oxygen, nutrients and water from the soil, which in turn helps the stems, leaves and flowers to grow and prosper.
Healthy roots are also vital for creating a flourishing ecosystem of microorganisms in the soil, which further helps the growth and development.
Mix & Match Soil Types
One of the best parts of obtaining a metal raised bed, is that you are not limited as to what you are able to grow. For example, if you want to grow a certain type of vegetable, but you know your garden soil isn’t suitable for growing it, you can buy the compost and create a suitable variation which you know will be ideal for it.
Raised garden beds are also incredibly versatile, and because you can mix and match the soil types for your preferred plants, it means you will be able to grow pretty much anything you like, such as:
- Vegetables - almost all vegetables will thrive in raised beds.
- Soft fruits - the conditions are perfect for the likes of strawberries, raspberries, currants and blackberries.
- Perennials - raised beds are great for establishing flowers for cutting.
- Alpines - alpines thrive in soil with effective drainage.
Robust & Solid
Wooden or plastic raised beds will degrade over time. Wood in particular is susceptible to wet rot, this begins as soon as moisture creeps into any cracks or holes and will create an ideal breeding ground for spores.
This will eventually strip the wood of nutrients and the structure of the raised bed will begin to deteriorate. Of course, with a metal alternative you could be looking at many years (even a lifetime) of quality use with minimal maintenance and no risk of attack from insects and rot.
Although it’s not the case that no weeds will end up in your raised beds (weed seeds can travel with animals and insects and be blown by the wind) the smaller surface area makes weed control much easier.
Metal raised garden beds are more portable, they are ideal for smaller outdoor spaces and perfect for moving around the garden as you please.
Metal offers a far more pleasing and natural aesthetic than plastic, and will last far longer than wooden counterparts, which will look unpleasant if it begins to rot and degrade.
How to Select the Right Metal Raised Garden Bed?
There are a few factors to take into consideration before you purchase your raised bed. You need to consider what you would like to grow and therefore what size will be required to give the plant the adequate space it needs, which style might suit your outdoor space and you will possibly want to look at the cost. In this section, we are outlining exactly what you’ll need to consider before purchasing. Read more.
Size & Shape
Metal raised beds will often come in a wide variety of styles, shapes and sizes. Most commonly you will find them in a rectangular shape, but if you are looking for something a bit different or you are short on space, you might wish to consider squares, ovals and rounded shapes. The depth and width you choose, will largely depend on what you wish to grow and how much room you have to play with.
Metal raised beds can vary significantly in price, so it is important to keep in mind how much you are ideally looking to spend vs the application. In many ways you’ll get what you pay for, so if you’re looking for the best of the best, then it really is a good idea to spend that bit extra to ensure ongoing usage for many years to come. Whereas, if you’re still relatively new to gardening, you might not want to spend too much while you continue to hone your skills.
What Else You Need to Be Aware of
Although metal raised beds are absolutely perfect for most outdoor spaces, there are a few things you should be aware of.
Firstly, and this is true of plants grown in any kind of raised bed, because of excellent drainage plants can be very susceptible to drought during the warmer months, so it’s important to keep an eye on these to ensure they are thoroughly watered during the cooler evenings.
Secondly, as metal absorbs heat, metal raised beds can get very hot. This means that you may need to consider carefully where you’re initially placing the beds to ensure they’re not in the full glare of the sun during the warmer parts of the day.