Knowledge Builders

what kind of soil should i put in a raised garden bed

by Dr. Magnus Kertzmann Published 2 years ago Updated 1 year ago

Soil Components

  • Topsoil is basically filler soil needed for everything from raised bed gardening to indoor potted plants. ...
  • Substrate makes up a small percentage of the soil mix but is extremely important. It helps control moisture content, which is key in a raised bed. ...
  • Compost is a key component of plant fertilizer consisting of decaying organic matter such as animal manure and bone meal. ...

Soil taken from your yard or a garden bed is too dense to use in a pot or raised bed. Instead, for containers, you'll want to use potting mix (also called potting soil), a lightweight and fluffy alternative. For raised beds, you'll want to use a slightly heavier soil made specifically for that type of garden.

What is the best soil mixture for raised beds?

  • Healthy soil will help you produce healthy plants in your raised bed.
  • Soil supplies plants and soil organisms with water, air, and nutrients. Ideal garden soil is loose, deep, and crumbly. ...
  • The organic matter (OM) content in a raised bed containing garden soil, should be 25%-50% by volume or 5%-15% by weight (as measured by a soil testing lab).

How to make your own raised bed soil?

  • Choose a flat, sunny spot to build your raised garden bed.
  • Use a shovel to remove ground that prevents the frame from resting in a level position.
  • Don't worry about the condition of the soil in your chosen location since you will be adding your own quality soil.
  • Some raised garden bed kits are stackable, so you can grow plants with long root stems. ...

What is the best dirt for raised beds?

The benefits of using Mel’s Mix for raised bed vegetable gardening include:

  • It simplifies drainage – the vermiculite and peat moss (or coco coir) absorb moisture; when they are saturated, excess moisture drains away. This means you can’t overwater.
  • Seeds germinate easily i n the mix.
  • No weeds! It really is true. ...
  • Soil remains light and airy; it does not get crusted or compacted. ...

How much compost to add to raised garden bed?

Which compost is best for vegetables?

  • Use sterile proprietary potting composts to obtain best results.
  • The soil-based compost John Innes No 3 is especially easy to manage, but other composts, including peat-free varieties, are also suitable.
  • Compost in grow-bags is often both good value and reasonable quality.


What type of soil is best for raised garden beds?

For most situations, we recommend these proportions:60% topsoil.30% compost.10% Potting soil (a soilless growing mix that contains peat moss, perlite and/or vermiculite)

What should I fill my raised garden bed with?

The first option for filling your beds is a simple soil mixture. As you may have guessed, this is the simplest route you can take. Fill your bed with a 1:1 mixture of topsoil and compost mix, then lightly combine with a rake or shovel.

Can you use regular soil for raised garden beds?

In recent years, these mixes have been sold as “For Raised Beds.” Just as with potting mixes, you can purchase bagged raised bed soil already mixed, or you can make your own by combining regular garden soil with potting mix. You want to use far more garden soil than potting mix, around a 5:1 ratio.

What's the difference between garden soil and raised bed soil?

Raised bed soil is nutrient rich and contains a higher percentage of organic material than garden soil. However, you should also add additional organic fertilizer throughout the growing season to ensure a productive harvest. Organic and natural fertilizers include compost, algae and worms.

How do you fill a raised bed cheaply?

Create dig in your garden bed that is ten inches deep and in the center of your raised bed. Layer down a few layers of cardboard, and fill the core with straw bales, leaves, grass clippings, or old twigs. You can use one of these materials or mix them.

How many bags of soil do I need for a 4x8 raised bed?

How Many Bags of Soil Do You Need for a 4 x 8 raised garden bed? For a 4×8 raised garden bed, you will need 15 bags of soil (1.5 cubic feet per bag) or 21.44 cubic feet of soil. This is assuming your raised garden bed is 8 inches high and the bags of soil you are buying contains 1.5 cubic feet of soil per bag.

Is topsoil OK for raised beds?

Topsoil is a good choice for filling up raised beds, repairing eroded spots, or filling in holes. When planting a new lawn or overseeding a patchy lawn, you can use a thin layer of topsoil to protect grass seeds as they sprout. One thing you shouldn't use topsoil for is filling your containers.

What is the difference between topsoil and garden soil?

Garden soil is topsoil that has been enriched to make it better suited for plant growth. Amendments may include compost or other organic matter, and some soils – like perennial potting mixes – have added ingredients to encourage growth of specific types of plants.

Is Miracle Gro garden soil good for raised beds?

Trust Miracle-Gro® Raised Bed Soil to grow bigger, more bountiful plants (vs. unfed plants). Our raised bed soil provides the right foundation your raised bed plants need to thrive. Not to mention, the 100% organic formula requires no mixing!

What are the disadvantages of raised garden beds?

Raised Beds – the Con SideYou have to buy soil, unless you have high spots in your yard that you want lower.They cost money to build.Soil dries out much faster in summer.Requires more watering.Less sustainable since you need to buy and transport walls and soil.More items...

How deep should a raised garden bed be?

A raised bed does not have to be very deep to be effective. Eight to 12 inches is usually adequate. If drainage is a problem, or if the plants you are growing prefer drier soil, the bed could be taller and filled with a porous growing medium. Vegetable beds should be 12 to 18 inches deep.

Should I add sand to my raised bed?

Answer: Raised bed soils should be light and well-drained. An excellent soil mix can be prepared by mixing equal parts topsoil, organic matter (well-rotted manure, compost, or peat), and coarse sand.

Well, Smack My Behind and Call Me Sally!

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We’ve all made mistakes in our gardens, but starting with INCORRECT soil is probably the greatest grievance that could occur.

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Adding these amendments will ensure your plants have plenty of food to grow into nutrient-rich plants. 1. Worm Castings – where to buy (1 bag per 3...

Layering Your Soil Into Your Raised Garden Boxes

If you’re curious how it all should come together in your boxes, check out my video below for the complete tutorial! After you’re finished, it’s ti...

How to make a raised bed soil mix?

One way to build this mix is to start with a raised bed soil mix that is half topsoil and half organic compost. Alternatively, you might make a base soil by blending equal parts coarse horticultural vermiculite, peat moss, and good quality organic compost.

What to add to soil to grow plants?

Add any amendment to the basic soil mix that suits your purposes. One recommended addition to consider is an organic, slow-release, balanced fertilizer. But don’t stop there. If you plan to grow plants that prefer acidic soil, you can add sulfur. For plants that prefer alkaline soil, add dolomite or wood ashes.

What is the advantage of a raised garden bed?

A major advantage of raised beds is that you are not stuck with the soil in the ground.

Why are raised beds good for gardening?

Raised beds offer gardeners many advantages. They provide good drainage, increase your crop yield and make it easier to use difficult sites – like roof tops or hillsides – for gardening. It takes planning and hard work to put together a good raised-bed system.

What type of soil do blueberry bushes like?

Some plants thrive on acidic soil, like blueberry bushes. Others prefer a soil with higher pH. This plant preference remains just as true in a raised bed situation as in a ground garden. In addition, your regional weather may impose different requirements on soil type for raised beds than those who live elsewhere.

What is the goal of a raised garden box?

The goal should be to create an ecosystem for plants which is well aerated yet retains moisture and nutrients, feeds the roots, encourages worms and other microbial activity, and is in essence a living, breathing soil. I promise you that if you fill your raised garden boxes correctly, your plants will FLOURISH every time.

What happens if you fill a raised garden box with compost?

If you’ve filled your raised garden bed with only potting soil or compost, the following things will occur: Your soil will drain too quickly, washing away water and nutrients. Your plants will starve. You will be sad. The fact is that raised garden boxes are not pots. Period.

What is the purpose of compost?

The purpose of compost is to provide the perfect situation for microbial growth. You can get animal-based compost, which is chicken, goat, sheep, horse, or cow manure that has broken down to the point where you can’t tell it’s poop any longer. (Names for animal-based compost: Aged-manure, composted manure, etc.) OR.

How is compost made?

Compost is created when somebody takes raw organic material and adds water and air. Over time the microbes break it down into an organic matter that looks nothing like the original materials that were put in. The purpose of compost is to provide the perfect situation for microbial growth.

What is plant based compost?

You can get plant-based compost, which is wood chips, grass clippings, straw, leaves, kitchen scraps (and sometimes egg shells). (Names for plant-based compost: Compost, organic composted material, potting soil – has other ingredients too, but for the most part is composted material.)Both work BEAUTIFULLY as a growing medium.

Can you put wood chips in soil?

NEVER add organic material like straw, grass, or wood chips INTO your soil. They work great for the TOP of the soil to use as mulch to keep in moisture, but NEVER as an amendment INTO the soil. If you want to change this organic material into compost, then get a composter and add water and mix until the microbes break it down correctly.

Is a raised garden box a pot?

The fact is that raised garden boxes are not pots. Period. You see, a raised garden bed is completely different than a pot on your porch. It’s open to the earth. It’s a living, breathing, soil, and you need to treat it that way.

What is the best soil for a raised bed?

The best raised bed soils contain nutrients that fuel growth. Organic, natural fertilizers include compost, sea kelp, and worm castings. These fertilizers enhance the quality and condition of the soil without you having to worry about contamination. The slow-release properties of organic fertilizers prevent potentially harmful buildup and ensure that your plants aren’t harmed by a flood of nutrients all at once.

What is a good soil mix?

A good soil mix contains topsoil, a small amount of substrate, and a significant amount of compost, which contains nutrients that improve soil conditions. Topsoil is basically filler soil needed for everything from raised bed gardening to indoor potted plants.

What to cover topsoil with?

Then, cover the topsoil with a more nutrient-rich mix of compost, peat moss, and substrates that will nourish the plants. Substrate makes up a small percentage of the soil mix but is extremely important. It helps control moisture content, which is key in a raised bed.

What is perlite soil?

The perlite creates openings and spaces for better aeration. Its neutral pH provides a nutrient-dense medium in which to start growth. The fiber content creates a granular mix rather than a long fibrous mix. Seedlings and cuttings do well in this particular kind of soil.

What is fox farm soil?

The FoxFarm potting soil contains a mix of microbes with mycorrhizal fungi and sediment. The fungi content enhances the nutrient uptake of the root system by creating a symbiotic relationship with the root mass. Essentially, it expands the root’s reach, promoting their development.

Why is soil important for plants?

For plants, soil provides another vital element. It doesn’t just deliver nutrients to hungry fruits, vegetables, and flowers; good garden soil increases the airflow around plant roots to avoid compaction and improve drainage as it retains moisture for basic hydration. Soil also supports a vast ecosystem of microorganisms that boost plant health.

What is a raised garden bed?

Raised beds are great for any kind of plant but work particularly well for growing vegetables. Elevating the growing space keeps weeds at bay and the soil warm and prevents compaction. Gardeners also get to start with pristine, neutral-pH soil.

The Classic 3-Ingredient Soil Mix

You can always buy packed soil mixes, but if you’re filling several raised beds, you’d be burning through your savings in no time at all. Buying soil mixes in bulk and doing the soil mixing yourself is the best way to save money on garden soil and ensure a healthy, thriving garden throughout the growing season.

The Bagged Blend

This soil mix comprises different bagged soil blends, perfect for gardeners who do not have access to bulk ingredients.

The Perfect Blend

Mix all the ingredients on a large tarp if possible before filling the beds. This helps avoid pockets of peat, manure, or other ingredients. This recipe is enough to fill a 4’ X 8’ X1 raised bed.

Healthy Soil for Your Raised Garden Bed

In raised garden beds, it is important to keep the soil healthy. Remember that the soil from the yard is too thick for a raised bed or pot. You can maintain soil health by avoiding compaction, digging deep, and covering the soil.

What type of soil is best for a garden?

Soil types include sandy, loamy, clay, hard, or loose clay, and sand. Each soil has its own set of characteristics that make it suitable for different types of plants and activities. Sand can be used for small areas around plantings, while clay can handle bigger structures because it holds moisture better. The next step to determining ...

Why use a mix in a raised garden bed?

When you use a mix in a raised garden bed, it basically provides nutrients and moisture to the roots of the plants. The roots of the plants in a container, however, have no way to get the needed nutrients.

How to have a successful garden?

In order to have a successful garden, you should think about your climate and know if it is suitable for growing a large number of plants. If you live in an area that experiences cold weather, you will need to use more plant food in your pots to provide the nutrients that your plants need. If you do not live in an area that experiences cold ...

What to know before buying a raised bed?

Before you purchase a raised bed kit, you should check out all the different sizes, styles, materials, and materials used to make these beds, as this will help you narrow down the selection for yourself. By using these simple rules, you can easily determine how much soil you need and help you make a properly built bed for your garden.

Can you plant plants in a container?

The roots of the plants in a container, however, have no way to get the needed nutrients. So it is a better idea to plant the plants in containers and then allow them to get a supply of nutrients from the ground. Of course, you will need to water the plants, and once a week is a good schedule.

Is a garden a rectangular plot?

While most people think that an average, residential garden is a simple rectangular plot of land with one or two sides paved or maybe even shaded, that’s simply not the case, and there are many complex questions you should ask yourself before you build a garden for your own personal use.

Do Mediterranean gardens need water?

For example, a Mediterranean garden may need some shade and water, while a desert garden might have less of a need for it. Depending on the climate of your garden, you can make a general rule of thumb by figuring out how much sunlight and rain each region gets in a year.

What is the best soil addition for aeration?

Nearly as important as the compost component, an aeration addition is key to healthy soil. This could include lava rock, pumice, or perlite. Coarse sand also promotes aeration and drainage, but not quite as effectively as the others.

What is in bagged soil?

A lot of bagged soil mixes already contain some perlite, pumice, or rice hulls. Those are all forms of “aeration”, and are adding to our target total. So if you use primarily bagged mixes, read the ingredient list. If they contain those things, you can go lighter on adding additional aeration (e.g. perhaps only 10% extra, if any). However, if you buy only bulk soil and compost products that do not contain any aeration additive, you’ll want to add more. Make sense? Like I said, this doesn’t all need to be an exact science.

How to take up space in a deep empty garden bed?

To take up *some* space at the bottom of a deep empty bed, you could choose to add a few inches of small branches, leaves, mulch, pine needles, or other woody organic matter, and then add the other recommended raised bed soil and compost on top.

What are worms in soil?

Did you know that Cornell University refers to worms as “living soil amendments”? Worms play a vital role in the overall health of organic soil, as part of the soil food web. By simply being present and doing their wormy thing, they continually aerate, nourish, and improve soil structure! Furthermore, as they cruise through soil, they break it up – which in turn improves drainage, increases moisture retention and oxygen flow to plant root systems – all very good things!

How many cubic feet are in a bag of soil?

Bags of garden soil come in measurements of cubic feet, usually in a range of 1 to 3 cubic-foot bags. Bulk soil purchased from a local landscape supply company will be in cubic yards. First, calculate the volume of your bed in cubic feet. To do this, simply multiply the width by length by depth in feet (e.g. 4’ x 6’ x 1.5”).

Can you fertilize a raised garden bed?

If you filled your raised garden bed primarily with high-quality organic bagged soils and compost, you can go pretty light on the fertilizer for the first growing season. Those bags usually contain pre-amended soil with light fertilizer and some compost added.

Can you use fresh manure in a garden?

Note that fresh manure is very different from compost. Yes, Bu’s starts with manure, but it aged and composted over time to become a more mild, balanced product. Fresh manure that hasn’t been properly aged is very high in nitrogen and can burn your plants. Therefore, avoid adding fresh animal manure to your garden. I am also a little leery of animal manures that are not from certified organic operations, or have an otherwise unknown source.


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