As much as I love harvesting a bowl of sweet peas or enjoying an heirloom tomato right off the vine, part of the fun of gardening is planting raised garden beds. Garden design is where that artistic side comes out. I get to plan how my garden will look, where I want a footpath, and what kinds of raised garden beds I want.
It’s the perfect mix of literally getting my hands dirty, landscaping, and, of course, planting herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers. I won’t lie, my husband does a lot of the manual labor when I decide to carve out a new patch in the lawn, but I repay him in salsa, sauces and jams all summer long!
Right now I’m plotting my next garden design. Generally I plant in the ground because my soil is pretty exceptional, but I’m starting to get over the whole weeding by hand bit, so I’m thinking of planting more raised garden beds next year so all the veggies are easier to navigate and pick while still being able to root deeply in the actual ground. If you’re on a similar journey, here are some tips we can use together.
Your quick-start guide to planting raised garden beds
There are a lot of reasons for planting raised garden beds vs. planting right at ground level: You have more control of the soil, drainage tends to be better, and some gardeners swear that raised beds help limit the amount of pests that like to feed on tender young plants.
One of the things I love about raised beds is that I can get to all my plants easily. They also look nice and organized. And for those who have back or joint issues, a highly elevated raised bed can eliminate bending over to tend to your garden.
Aesthetically, the choices are wide open. One thing I’ll say is that a deeper bed will give your plants more room to stretch out their roots. It’s also important to choose or make raised beds that you can work around without having to step into the garden. One of the advantages of planting raised garden beds is nice, loose soil. If you have to step into that, you’re compacting the soil and negating this benefit.
We’ve written a few articles about raised garden beds:
- 5 Raised Bed Vegetable Garden Layout Tips & Tricks
Spacing plants in a raised garden bed
As far as spacing your plants, whether you have one raised bed or a dozen, be sure to consider the height of your plants and the direction of sunlight. Those tall tomato plants might look nice at the front of your garden, but you don’t want them to block all the sun from your zucchini. Your seed package will tell you how far apart to space your vegetables but here are some general guidelines:
- Asparagus: 12-18″ between plants and 60″ between rows
- Carrots: 1-2″ between plants and 12-18″ between rows
- Celery: 12-18″ between plants and 24″ between rows
- Corn: 10-15″ between plants and 35-42″ between rows
- Cauliflower: 19-24″ between plants and 18-24″ between rows
- Garlic: 4-6″ between plants and 12″ between rows
- Onions: 4-6″ between plants and 4-6″ between rows
- Peas: 1-2″ between plants and 18-24″ between rows
- Peppers: 14-18″ between plants and 18-24″ between rows
- Summer Squash: 24-36″ between plants and 36-48″ between rows
- Tomatoes: 24-36″ between plants and 48-60″ between rows
- Winter Squash: 24-36″ between plants and 60-72″ between rows
When it comes to beans, greens, cucumbers and gourds, spacing can vary a lot so it’s best to look on the package for guidance.
As for general guidance on herbs, you have a little wiggle room, but here are the basics:
- 6″ apart: Parsley, Chervil, Oregano
- 12″ apart: Basil, Dill, Chives, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
- 18″ apart: Coriander, Lavender, Mint
- 24″ apart: Tarragon
Ultimately, whether you’re planting raised garden beds or just a few container vegetables or a full in-ground garden, the real goal is to get a good harvest. There’s a lot to be said for spending time in the garden, getting some sunshine and fresh air ourselves, but let’s be real, we all want to pick some fresh veggies to throw in a salad or cook with dinner. Fortunately, raised beds can be highly productive. How?
Companion planting is especially important to get the most out of your raised bed. Combining buddy plants will let you grow more vegetables and herbs closer together, maximizing your space. Tomatoes and basil, for example, support each other well, since basil repels many of the pests that like to feed on tomatoes. Carrots and radishes also work well together, as the fast-growing radishes help aerate the soil for slower-growing carrots. And Nasturtiums are a tasty edible flower, but they also attract pollinators.
Raised beds are a great way to get more from your garden. And it’s a fun way to design your space.
What are your best tips for planting raised garden beds? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below.