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What to Put On The Bottom Of A Raised Garden Bed?

by Lily Morgen
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Raised Garden Bed

Gardening with raised beds is a great way to grow your own vegetables, herbs, and flowers. They offer many benefits over traditional in-ground gardening, including better drainage, easier weed control, and improved soil quality. 

One of the keys to success with raised garden beds is to make sure they are properly constructed. This means adding a layer of material to the bottom of the bed before adding your soil.

But what do you put on the bottom of a raised garden bed? There are a few different options for what to put on the bottom of a raised garden bed. The best material will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

1. Hardware Cloth

One popular option for lining raised garden beds is hardware cloth. This is a strong wire mesh that is available in a variety of sizes.

Hardware cloth is an excellent choice for keeping out small animals, such as gophers and moles. It can also help prevent soil erosion.

If you choose to use hardware cloth, be sure to select a size that will allow water to drain properly. Otherwise, you may end up with waterlogged soil.

2. Landscape Fabric

One of the most significant advantages of utilizing landscape fabric is that it is incredibly robust and resistant to breakdown. Landscape fabric can be used for more than ten years before it needs to be replaced.

Landscape fabric also offers great drainage properties. The holes in the fabric allow water to pass through while keeping the soil in place. This is vital for raised garden beds since they are often located on top of hardscapes such as patios or driveways.

Landscape fabric is available in a variety of colors and patterns. It is also easy to cut and shape to fit any size raised garden bed.

3. Wood Chips

One of the best things about using wood chips is that they are readily available and relatively inexpensive. They can often be found for free from your local tree service or landscaping company.

Wood chips make an excellent mulch for the bottom of a raised garden bed. They help to improve drainage and keep the roots of plants cool in the summer.

Wood chips also offer some protection against weeds. The thick layer of mulch prevents weed seeds from germinating.

4. Cardboard

Cardboard is often used in lasagna gardening, a type of no-dig gardening. It also offers great drainage properties and will break down over time, adding organic matter to your soil.

5. Rocks and Gravel

Rocks and gravel offer several benefits for raised beds. They improve drainage while still allowing water to seep into the soil. They also help to keep the roots of plants cooler in the summer.

Another advantage of using rocks and gravel is that they are relatively inexpensive. They can also be found easily if you live near a river or stream.

One downside of using gravel is that it can be difficult to plant in. If you plan on growing vegetables or flowers in your raised garden bed, this may not be the best option for you.

6. Grass Clippings

If you have a lawn, you can use grass clippings to line your raised garden bed. This is a good way to recycle lawn waste.

Grass clippings will help improve drainage and prevent weeds. They will also add some nutrients to your soil as they break down.

One downside of using grass clippings is that they can attract animals. If you live in an area with a lot of deer, rabbits, or other pests, this may not be the best option for you.

7. Straw

In addition to contributing organic matter, straw is a fantastic technique to maintain moisture in raised beds. Straw on its own will smother weeds, but it works best when spread over newspaper or cardboard.

Your raised bed gains the addition of straw, which is a carbon-rich material, and the humus that develops as the straw breaks down underground will be quite beneficial over time.

Straw should be spread out on the bottom of your raised bed between 10 and 15 cm (4-6 inches) for optimal results.

8. Leaves

If you have a lot of leaves in your yard, you can use them to line the bottom of your raised garden bed.

While it is simple to fill the bottom of a raised bed with leaves, they will disintegrate sooner or later. Decomposition of leaves normally takes 6 to 12 months.

9. Newspaper

Newspaper is another material to use at the bottom of your raised bed because it is inexpensive and abundant. Simply place a couple of layers of paper at the bottom of your bed before adding soil.

Newspaper will eventually break down and add organic matter to your soil. However, it does not offer as much drainage as some of the other options on this list.

10. Nothing

If you don’t want to spend any money and don’t mind a little extra work, you can simply not use anything at the bottom of your raised garden bed.

One of the benefits of not using anything at the bottom of your raised garden bed is that you don’t have to worry about removing it when it’s time to replant.

Another advantage is that organic materials such as leaves and twigs will fall through the gaps in the boards and help to improve the drainage and aeration of the soil.

Of course, the downside of not using anything at the bottom of your raised garden bed is that you may have to weed more often. But if you don’t mind a little extra work, this is a perfectly viable option.

Final Thought

There are a variety of materials you can use to line the bottom of a raised garden bed. The best material for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Hardware cloth, landscape fabric, wood chips, cardboard, rocks and gravel, grass clippings, straw, leaves, newspaper or simply nothing are all popular options. Be sure to select a material that will allow proper drainage and prevent weeds.

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