With a growing society, more and more houses and apartments come with a minimal outdoor area, and those that do have often been paved over to form a patio or terrace.
This obviously makes it much harder to plant a garden in, and can often leave these outdoor spaces looking drab and lifeless.
However, thanks to the invention of the raised bed, even gardens that have no soil to plant directly into can be reinvented, bursting with colour and fresh produce.
Even if you’ve got a larger garden, a raised bed is a great way to maximise your space, and can be built on an existing lawn that would otherwise remain empty and useless.
There’s no doubt that raised beds are a great way of getting the most out of your garden, regardless of its size. But, although there are a plethora of plants that will thrive in raised beds, some care and attention needs to be taken when you’re selecting the best plants them.
This can be particularly confusing if you’re new to gardening, but fear not – we’re here to help! Below, you’ll find our list of five of the best plants for raised beds, along with a useful buying guide that will help you navigate your way to a garden that’s full of life and colour.
Grab a seat, keep on reading, and pretty soon you’ll know everything you need to know in order to get your outdoor space looking vibrant and healthy.
If you’re desperate to get out into the garden and start filling your raised beds with gorgeous planting, our top pick is an absolute must have for any planting scheme.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Plants for Raised Beds – Comparison Table
Best Plants for Raised Beds – Reviews
Best Plants for Raised Beds – Buyer’s Guide
Raised beds are a great way of extending your planting area, and can give you a place to grow gorgeous plants or delicious fruits and vegetables if you have a patio or terrace that doesn’t have any soil to plant directly into.
However, although most plants will thrive happily and healthily in raised beds, there are some considerations you should give some thought to before planning your planting scheme. We’ve outlined some of these below so that you can find the best plants possible for your raised beds, and ensure your garden is bursting with colour and life all year round.
The first thing you need to think about is the position your raised beds are in within your garden. Do they get full sun? Or are they partially or fully shaded? Figuring this out first will very much dictate what you can successfully grow, and will prevent you from buying the wrong kind of plant for that area, saving you money in the long run.
A famous gardening mantra is ‘right plant, right place’, and this needs to be thought of once you know how much sun your raised beds get throughout the day. So, if your raised beds get constant sunshine all day long, you’ll be better off purchasing a plant that thrives in full sun and won’t mind the soil drying out from time to time.
However, if your plants are either fully or partially shaded, you should look for a plant that will be happy with a limited amount of sunshine, and won’t suffer if the soil remains a little moist for longer periods of time.
Another thing you’ll want to consider is the colour scheme you currently have running throughout the rest of your borders and flowerbeds. Do you want the plants you’re placing in your raised beds to match this? Or are you planning on creating a completely different look and feel altogether?
The colours you choose should also be thought about in regards to the area your raised beds are situated in. For example, if your raised beds are in a shadier position, choosing bold and vibrant flowers will help to inject colour into an otherwise fairly dark position.
And a colour scheme of neutral or muted colours, such as whites and lilacs, will make an area that is in full sunshine look even brighter without seeming overly garish. Raised beds in full sunshine can also be softened with shades or green, which you can achieve with ornamental grasses or evergreen planting.
Wherever possible, it’s important to encourage nature into your garden, and there are certain plants that pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies are drawn to more than others.
Incorporating plants such as buddleias into your raised beds won’t only provide these important insects with a reliable food source, but will also bring you hours of joy as you see the vast variety of different pollinators that are attracted to your garden.
Height & Spread
Raised beds are designed to provide a limited amount of space in which to grow plants, fruits or vegetables. So, with this in mind, it’s important to look at the ultimate height and spread that your chosen plant will reach.
Head outdoors with a tape measure first of all so that you’re certain of the size your raised beds are, and then look for a plant that won’t totally take up all of the room or overcrowd any other planting you’d like to incorporate.
There are certain plants that need to be planted on their own as well, as they will send out runners that will set down roots, spread throughout your raised beds and take away the nutrients from any other planting. These plants include strawberries and mint, so if you’re thinking about planting these, make sure they can have a bed all to themselves.
Climbing plants are another option to consider, and are a great way to cover an unsightly wall or a fence that your raised beds may be built up against. They’re also really good at scaling pergolas and trellises, and can get as tall as 6 metres, so are a good choice for adding vertical structure to your garden.
You’ll need to take a minute to think about what sort of growth habit you’d like your plants to have as well. This is usually broken down into either perennial or evergreen, and each of these comes with it’s own benefits.
Perennial plants die back into the ground over winter in order to protect themselves from cold weather and freezing temperatures, but as soon as spring arrives they begin to grow back and tend to come back stronger each year.
Perennial plants are a good option if you don’t mind your raised beds looking empty over the winter months, or if you’ve designed your planting scheme with winter interest already incorporated.
Evergreen plants retain their foliage all year round, which means that you’ll have constant colour and structure in your raised beds. A lot of evergreen plants produce flowers in the summer too, and some even have foliage that change colour as soon as autumn hits. These make a great choice if you’d your raised beds to look full and interesting regardless of the season.
As autumn and winter begin to set in, the warm temperatures that your plants have been enjoying and growing in will soon begin to dip, and depending on where you live you may find that temperatures can go well below freezing.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to check how hardy your chosen plants are, and whether or not they’ll need a little bit of extra care and attention over winter. Most perennial and evergreen plants are hardy down to around -5ºC without needing any protection, and some can even survive in temperatures as low as -15ºC.
However, if you do choose a plant that isn’t fully hardy, make sure you cover it with a good mulch of compost or wrap it in fleece as soon as the cold weather hits. This will help your plants survive the winter and means they’ll grow back healthily in the spring. You can also dig them up and bring them indoors so they won’t get affected by any frosts if you’re particularly worried about them.
All plants, regardless of how low maintenance they claim to be, need a little bit of tender loving care in order to keep them as healthy as possible. So one important question you need to ask yourself is how much attention are you willing to give them?
Most plants require an annual prune to allow fresh growth to come through, and to prevent stems from rubbing together, which can lead to open wounds that disease can set into. However, if you’re concerned about pruning your plants yourself, a good choice would be to plant an azalea bush. Azaleas have a compact growth habit, and don’t require any pruning at all, making them a virtually maintenance free plant.
You also need to make sure that your plants are kept well watered, particularly during hot weather. But if you’ve got a super busy lifestyle that doesn’t always allow you the time to water as frequently as you like, you may be better off with plants that don’t mind sitting in dry soil conditions for a while. These include buddleias and ornamental grasses, which originate from countries where rainfall is scarce.
And, lastly, to keep your plants looking full and healthy for as long as possible, you’ll need to give them a little feed every couple of weeks. This is particularly important for any edibles you’re growing, such as strawberries, and is as easy as mixing in a liquid feed (such as seaweed or a tomato fertiliser) with some water and applying to the soil.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I plant in raised beds?
You can pretty much grow anything in a raised bed, as long as the bed itself is situated in a location that is suitable for the plants you have chosen. For example, if your raised beds are in a location that gets full sun all day, your plants will need to be happy in these conditions. Likewise, if they are in a shadier spot, your plants will need to be able to thrive with a minimal amount of sunlight.
What are raised beds?
Raised beds are basically planting containers that are built on top of existing lawn or on hard surfaces. A raised bed is ideal for creating planting schemes or for growing fruits and vegetables if your garden doesn’t have soil that you can plant directly into, or if you’re looking to maximise the amount of space your garden offers.