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Hannah Hadfield

We’ve just moved to a new build and have a completely blank canvas garden. We are going to have raised beds put in against a back wall and fence. Are we better to have the beds dug in or free standing? We’re trying to get into gardening but are complete novices at the moment so any advice. 
We want to plant a mixture of plants/trees/herbs and bulbs. 
Any recommendations? 


  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 23,642
    I would have it dug in and then you wouldn't have your choice of plants limited to those with shallow roots. Drainage and watering would probably be less of a problem too.
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    I agree.  Unless you are trying to keep something in there from spreading out (eg bamboo, fig) or something below from growing up into the bed (eg tree roots, bamboo) then open bottom raised beds are the way to go.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,431
    And don't forget that raised beds will need backs to keep the soil from touching the fence.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,014
    They need lined too [ if they're timber ] to prevent rot and to avoid too much moisture loss.
    There are lots of threads on this subject, so it's worth doing a search, using the facility at the top of the page.
    If they're going to be of a decent size, it's worth doing them properly - good materials, and posts concreted in if using timber. Properly constructed if using brick or block. 

    For plant suggestions, that's a big subject, and more info would be needed. Aspect, rough location, climate, likes and dislikes, time to maintain etc.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 3,964
    There might be good reasons for having raised beds and so I am not trying to dissuade you but they have become very fashionable of late and so do not think you have to have them.
  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,204
    I second what others have said.  Fashion shouldn't apply in gardening, and Percy Thrower never had raised beds?  They're a chore for the future.  Do you really need them?
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,014
    Raised beds are a much better way of dealing with poor, compacted soil, or - as in this case -  rubbish ground, which is often the case with new builds, as @philippasmith2 says. 
    As someone who has often had to deal with heavy clay soil, compacted ground that's been under gravel and heavy slabs for years, and builders' rubbish, raised beds are far easier for creating, and developing a garden.
    The beds done directly into the ground have had to have loads of manure and soil added to compensate for the clay, rock and hardcore etc that's about 9 inches below the soil level. The raised beds are a pleasure to work in, especially if moving plants, while the other borders are very hard work.
    It has nothing to do with 'fashion'.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • debs64debs64 West Midlands, on the edge of the Black Country Posts: 4,528
    I agree that raised beds are much easier and I think they look lovely. If you want an easier way to garden then consider lots of pots the bigger the better. A doddle to keep weed free and you can alter the soil conditions to suit the individual plant. 
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