Container Gardening vs Raised Beds

Gardening is an art form, and like artists, gardeners are very particular about their canvas.

There are lots of ways to garden, whether you plant directly into the ground or create a structure to hold your garden.

We’re going to discuss just two of the many methods of gardening: container gardening vs raised beds.

We’ll compare these popular types of gardening to help you choose which will be the best for your artistic vision and your practical needs.

Container Garden vs Raised Bed Garden - Country Silo

Container Gardening

The name, ‘container gardening’, almost says it all about this popular method of growing plants, since the process simply involves planting into a container of some kind.

Pots, boxes, bins, tubs, troughs, window boxes, and all other things that could be used as containers can be used to create your container garden.

Some crafty gardeners choose to upcycle things like old pottery or water barrels to create a zero-waste container garden.

Others choose to go for large pots, planting bags, and containers made specifically for the growing of plants.

As long as you plant in a container, you are container gardening!

Benefits of Container Gardening

Planting in containers can add both aesthetic and practical value to your garden.

Colorful, creative, and unique pots and containers can be used to draw attention to certain parts of your garden, can add color where there is an abundance of greenery or a lack of greenery, and can diversify the look of any garden.

Some people choose to be highly creative when selecting their pots, while others go for a minimalist and coordinated look to create a sophisticated finish

Type of Container Garden

Beyond the decorative nature of container gardening, this method is also highly practical for people with smaller yards or minimal access to land, and can allow people living in condos and apartments to enjoy gardening on a porch, patio, or veranda.

Container gardening allows for as many or as few pots as you would like, and since containers are often portable, your garden can come with you to your next apartment!

It is not just gardeners with limited space that enjoy container gardening - many gardeners with large yards enjoy using containers to reduce the time they spend weeding, or to maximize the potential of their garden.

Since pots and containers are portable, they can be moved around the yard as the sun moves throughout the day or the season, or can be brought inside in case of extreme weather.

Different container garden ideas

Plants growing in containers are also less susceptible to soil-borne diseases, since they are isolated in their own pot or bin.

This is also how container gardens remain largely weed-free, since weeds won’t be able to shoot up through the ground and into a container.

Setting Up a Simple Garden Container

Container gardening is pretty easy and can be done successfully by professional and amateur gardeners alike.

Here are five easy steps to creating your first simple container garden...

  1. 1
    Choose a Container: When choosing a container, be sure to choose one that is not too small, since larger containers will produce more successful gardens. A pot, bin, or large growing bag are all great options, but be sure you will be able to manage it once it is filled with soil.
  2. 2
    Consider Drainage: Your plants need water to grow, but too much water will stunt or end their growth entirely. To prevent your garden from becoming waterlogged, be sure your chosen container has adequate drainage. A container with a small hole in the bottom, or a draining fabric grow bag will do the trick just fine.
  3. 3
    Select Soil: The easiest way to make sure your plants grow successfully is to choose a pre-mixed, well-draining potting soil from your local garden center, or to create your own nutrient-rich potting mix. Want a recipe? Let us know if you are interested in learning more about making a homemade potting mix in the comments below!
  4. 4
    Plant: Add container appropriate plants as desired! Plant a single type of plant in one container, or add a variety - just be sure they’re compatible before you plant them together.
  5. 5
    Water, Sun, Food: Like any other garden, your container garden will need a little TLC once it is set up. Water your containers regularly as the soil dries, be sure they get adequate sunlight, and give them extra soil, compost, or nutrients as needed.
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Which Plants Thrive In Containers?

Like people, plants can be particular, and not all will enjoy being planted in a container equally.

To set your garden up for success, choose some of these plants that are known to be able to thrive in containers:

Decorative:

  • Begonias
  • Clematis
  • Coleus
  • Cosmos
  • Dianthus
  • Geraniums
  • Hostas
  • Impatiens
  • Petunias
  • Violas

Edible:

  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Chives
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Mint
  • Peppers
  • Snap peas
  • Tomatoes
Basil Herb Container Gardening

Is Container Gardening Right for You?

Container gardening isn’t for everyone, but you might find it extra useful if...

  • You have limited outdoor space

  • You would like to do less weeding

  • You want to add extra color to your garden

  • You want to reduce the risks of soil-borne disease

  • You just like the look of container gardens

Raised Beds

Traditional garden beds are dug directly into the ground, and typically utilize the soil already present in your yard or existing garden.

Raised beds are built on top of the ground, and contained by walls to keep the dirt from becoming part of the ground.

Raised Garden Bed

They can be anywhere from a few inches to a few feet high, and are filled with a soil mix similar to one you might use in potting or container gardening.

Like container gardening, raised beds can be created using old materials or scraps, since all that is needed to create a raised bed is a simple frame.

Some especially inventive gardeners use items like railway ties, pallets, old furniture, and even fence posts to create their raised beds, helping them to save money and reduce waste.

Benefits of Raised Bed Gardening

Not all of us are blessed with back yards and gardens that possess naturally nutrient-rich soil, which means that simply digging into the ground and creating a traditional garden bed won’t be the most successful means of gardening.

Raised beds give a similar aesthetic effect while allowing you to fill them with the soil of your choice, thereby ensuring you are planting in a healthy, nutritionally-balanced environment.

Raised beds not only provide a healthier environment in which to plant, but they also help gardeners to eliminate certain risks associated with soil-borne illnesses and weed growth.

Add the right soil to your garden containers

To help promote proper drainage and to minimize the growth of weeds, most raised beds are built with a foundational layer of rocks, stones, or gravel, which suppress weeds from growing up from the soil beneath, and keep the soil above from compacting.

They also make gardening a little easier, since they are basically just a normal garden on a platform.

Even having your beds sitting five or six inches above the ground can help to make tending to your plants more comfortable, reducing the amount you will have to bend to get to their roots and the soil.

Creating raised beds instead of planting directly into the ground can also help gardeners living in extremely cold or extremely hot climates to garden more successfully.

These gardens hold warmth longer during colder seasons, but also provide the drainage and evaporation power needed for successful gardening in warm months.


Plus they are less susceptible to frost, and may allow you to garden further into the fall and winter months than other methods of gardening.

Raised bed garden soil

Creating Simple Raised Beds

There are tons of ways you can create your own raised beds, and people around the world have come up with countless examples from which to draw inspiration.

If you would like to try raised bed gardening for yourself, start with a super simple design you can create in five easy steps:

Step 1

Create Raised Bed Frame: The most basic version of a raised bed is a rectangular wooden frame built to be about 10 inches high. You can construct your four-sided frame by finding your wood (preferably cedar or some other naturally weather-resistant option) or by purchasing a basic raised bed kit from a local hardware or gardening store. Remember: Where you place your raised bed will be its permanent home, so be sure to choose an area of your garden that gets plenty of sunlight.

Step 2

Add Rocks: For additional drainage and to keep the soil you add to your raised bed from compacting into the ground below, add a 2-3 inch layer of rocks or gravel to the bottom of your raised bed; check out our guide to raised bed drainage for more details on this step!

Step 3

Select Soil: Add a basic store-bought soil mix, or create your own by mixing topsoil from your garden with organic compost and potting mix for added nutrients, then use to fill your raised bed. Add enough soil to reach the top of the bed, since it will settle and become slightly lower over time.

Step 4

Plant: Once the time comes to plant, you can let your artistry shine. Plant whatever you would like in your beds to create mixed flower, vegetable, or herb gardens. Raised beds are super versatile, and there are many exciting planting possibilities.

Step 5

Water & Food: Finally, like all gardens, your raised beds will need regular watering and feeding. Water your raised beds as the soil dries, and add compost or natural nutrients every few weeks to help keep your plants growing strong. If any weeds pop up, pull them immediately and keep on gardening.

Which Plants Thrive In Raised Beds?

Where container gardening can be slightly limited is in space allotment. Since some plants simply cannot survive without a considerable amount of space raised beds can be made as tall, short, wide, or long as necessary, and can accommodate a huge variety of plants.

Raised beds are also particularly good for companion planting, or planting multiple types of compatible plants in one area.

Let us know if you want to learn more about companion planting in the comments below!

Here are just a few examples of the many types of plants that can thrive in raised beds:

Decorative:

  • Black-Eyed Susans
  • Daylilies
  • Coneflowers
  • Lavender
  • Peonies
  • Petunias
  • Zinnias

Edible:

  • Arugula
  • Blueberries
  • Bush beans
  • Chives
  • Cucumbers
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Rhubarb
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Are Raised Beds Right for You?

If you have enough space for a conventional garden, but don’t necessarily have the soil for it, a raised bed garden is the right choice for you.

Raised beds allow people in virtually any climate with any kind of soil to successfully grow beautiful and delicious plants, and even have the added benefit of suppressing weeds for easier gardening.

Raised bed vegetable garden

Some signs raised beds might be the right gardening solution for you include:

Some signs raised beds might be the right gardening solution for you include:

  • Your garden has clay heavy or sand heavy soil
  • You would like to do less weeding
  • You would like to bend down less, or would like to create a more accessible garden
  • You are interested in cultivating your own vegetables or berries
  • You just like the look and feel of a raised bed garden

Have you tried gardening in raised beds or containers? Which method do you prefer, and why?

Share your gardening tips, tricks, and ideas in the comments below...

About THE AUTHOR

Andrew - Better Home DIY

Drew

Founder - CountrySilo

Growing up around the farmlands of the Midwest you learn at an early age getting your hands dirty is a way of life. Whether it was helping my Grandpa make cedar furniture, mowing neighborhood lawns or throwing bails of hay the do-it-yourself mentality runs strong in our family.

I am excited to help you tackle your projects and discover new ways to make your house a home!

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