Use window planter reservoirs for container gardening success.

2015’s Top 6 Gardening Resolutions and Trends

It’s that time of year again, the time for making resolutions. Whether your resolutions are to get to the gym more, go to sleep earlier, or save more money, we’ve complied a couple resolutions that will still fall in line with the classic ones and a couple that that will be trending in the New Year.

Here are 2015’s Top 6 Gardening Resolutions & Trends:

  1. Get outside more. Take a walk around your building at lunch, walk around the block with your family after dinner, or do a little spring prep in the garden to ensure for a prosperous garden come springtime. Try container gardening if you’re in a region of the country where it’s just too cold to be outside right now. Window boxes with a cleat hanging system make perfect containers for small space gardening. Plant whatever your heart desires (keep in mind the small space), keep the box inside until it’s warmer outside, and then hang it below your window once it’s warm enough outside. Click Here to find out When and How to Start Seeds Indoors.
Egg carton and egg shells with young plants

Do-it-yourself seed starting in eggshells! Image from Hew and Sew.

  1. Use new gardening tools. If you’re an avid gardener or you’re just starting out, gardening tools are you best friends. Start off the New Year with new gardening tools. They’ll be all clean and shiny and you’ll want to get in the garden and yard ASAP to break them in. This is also a great time of year to order your garden trellises so they’re ready to use when you buy plants in the Spring.
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Sign up for our email list and we’ll deliver can-do curb appeal tips right to your inbox!

  1. Improve your home’s curb appeal. This is a biggie. You’re lucky if this can be accomplished in one afternoon, but for the rest of you, this will be an ongoing but incredibly rewarding project! All it takes is some motivation (like seeing a gorgeous house on Pinterest), dedication, and a plan. You can improve your home’s curb appeal by simply mowing the grass, trimming the grass along the sidewalk, and pruning bushes and trees. But if you really want to differentiate your home from all the other houses on the block, think about installing exterior window shutters, window boxes, or flanking your front door with planters with tall topiaries. Click Here to meet Sage, she’s our curb appeal expert. Follow us on YouTube and we’ll let you know when she has her next curb appeal tips video!

  1. Try new plants. This may seem daunting as you are probably very comfortable in your current flower/plant situation. But isn’t that was the New Year is all about, trying something different? Add a more colorful arrangement of flowers to your planters, mix it up with different heights and densities of plants, and plant some veggies that you’d like to cook up later to go along with the next resolution.
"A Cheerful Hello" - WindowBoxContest.com Entry

“A Cheerful Hello” – WindowBoxContest.com Entry

  1. Eat healthier. This one can be a little difficult for those of you that work from sun up to sun down but there are small and also very affordable ways you can make small changes that will make a huge difference later. You can grow your own herbs in your kitchen. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love fresh basil and mint? With container gardening, you can even grow mushrooms, tomatoes, and micro greens right on your countertop. Click Here to view seed starters and tabletop grow boxes.
This should spice things up!

This should spice things up!

  1. Save more money. Isn’t this something everyone strives for in the New Year? You can accomplish this multiple ways this year. Save money on your water bill by using planter reservoirs in your pots and hanging baskets so you never need to worry about over or under watering your plants. You can also save money on your water bill by planting drought-tolerant plants that naturally require less water. Dramatically reduce your grocery expenses by growing your own herbs, veggies, tomatoes, and lettuce. You can even plan ahead and start growing your own lemon tree for delicious citrus in the coming years! Click Here to view planter reservoirs.
    Use window planter reservoirs for container gardening success.

    Use window planter reservoirs for container gardening success.

    You can shop all of these great gardening solutions at www.HooksandLattice.com, or simply pick up the phone and call us for guidance: 1-800-896-0978.

 

Don't let this be you this holiday season - plan ahead with a little help from Hooks & Lattice.

Jumpstart Holiday Shopping with Garden Gifts!

Don't let this be you this holiday season - plan ahead with a little help from Hooks & Lattice.

Don’t get down this holiday season – just plan ahead with a little help from Hooks & Lattice.

Put a fine point on holiday gift shopping this year with the help of Hooks and Lattice. If you have family and friends who love a good curb appeal project, you’ve come to the right place. Our customers often find that Christmas gift ideas for mom can just as easily work for dad. And a “green” offering is sure to up your popularity in that Secret Santa trade at work. So, without further ado, here’s the first of our Holiday Shopping Guides for 2014!

Fun & easy to assemble, this all-in-one DIY terrarium kit makes a great gift!

Fun & easy to assemble, this all-in-one DIY terrarium kit makes a great gift!

Small Gifts & “Stocking” Stuffers

Need a little something for a group gift trade, a new friend or stocking stuffing? Here’s a couple of holiday shopping ideas you can get behind – all priced reasonably at under $40.

  • Terrarium Kits

We love this round bubble terrarium that comes complete with a sand pack, decorative seashell and Agentea air plant. Priced at less than $25 before shipping and a real party-pleaser. No garden-knowhow necessary. Enjoyable for most any age!

  • DIY Garden Gift Basket

Any container gardener can use replacement liners for the upcoming season. So, why not use a coconut liner as a makeshift gift basket? Maybe even hang it in place of a loved one’s stocking this season! Start with one like this 12″ molded coco coir liner priced at under $10, and then fill it up. Any of our seed starting kits would make a great stuffer.

Holiday Gifts from $50-$100

If you’re budgeting a bit more for close family and friends, try out some of these items. We’ve got helpful Christmas gift ideas for her special spring project, or décor to spruce up the wintertime garden.

  • Radiant Redwood Flower Boxes
This elegant Victorian lantern casts a warm glow and complements any space.

This elegant Victorian lantern casts a warm glow and complements any space.

Our Pasadena Planter Box is simply exquisite with five size choices available at under $100. If the green thumb in your life has been dropping hints about a spring container gardening project, the Pasadena will get them off on the right foot. To make it really special, fill the box with garden tools, supplies and seeds. And for an organic-inspired finish that cuts down on wrapping paper waste, simply tie a colored raffia bow around the outside of the flower box.

  • Elegant Table Lanterns

Transform any tabletop, indoor or outdoor, with a gorgeous decorative lantern. We really like this Victoria-inspired style with its classic lines and impressive height. Plus, it can be utilized inside or outside, so your gift recipient can display it right away, no matter the climate. Great for holiday party centerpieces as well as general, year-round home décor. Check out our other table lantern styles here.

Take Christmas Shopping Online

Still want to browse? Don’t stop at these holiday gift suggestions! Hooks and Lattice has plenty more to offer. Please visit us throughout November and December and check out our online gift guide for even more fun, garden-inspired giving ideas! Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay tuned throughout this 2014 holiday season.

Early snowfall doesn't stop this Great Lakes Region school from getting involved!

Changing Habits – Farm to School Month

Early snowfall doesn't stop this Great Lakes Region school from getting involved!

Early snowfall doesn’t stop this Great Lakes Region school from getting involved!

What do kids know about food? A lot more, these days, thanks to Farm to School Programs. Educators nationwide are helping young people to break free of the kids’ menu mentality. No more chicken fingers, fries and fish sticks – we’re talking real, garden-fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, farm to table style. It’s National Farm to School Month, everybody!

Changing Habits

Americans love to eat! It’s undeniable. Just stroll through the aisles of any grocery store and take in the view. The myriad of options is telling of our food obsession. Unfortunately, many of the items also reveal a simultaneous misunderstanding of what real food actually is. Here’s a definition, courtesy of Dictionary.com, to get us started:

food [noun]: any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.

Simple, right? Maybe not. Because many of the choices Americans make fulfill none of these basic criteria. We’re not naming names, but here’s a hint: If it’s neon orange and leaves a sticky film on your fingers of the same color, it does the opposite of create energy – it zaps it. Which can eventually contribute to this staggering statistic:

More than one-third of adults in the USA are obese.

That’s no joke. So, where does the disconnect begin? And why are so many families dealing with obesity in both children and parents?…

It’s all about habits.

Consider these lines from MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

“For many people, changing eating habits is very hard…You may have had certain eating habits for so long that you do not realize they are unhealthy. Or, your habits have become part of your daily life, so you don’t think much about them.”

This is where Farm to School Programs come in. Getting American kids on the right nutrition track early in life means less bad habits to bust later on.

This little gardening tyke is well on her way to a healthy understanding of where food comes from.

You can start big or small – try seed and herb growing kits for an easy start!

A Healthier Next Generation

Remember that overwhelming grocery store aisle we were talking about earlier? The idea is to give kids the tools necessary to make smart, nutritious meal decisions while bypassing the neon orange stuff. Education and community outreach is the essence of Farm to School Month and the movement overall.

Each region is different, and both public and private schools are encouraged to build out initiatives that make sense for their students, teachers, districts and communities as whole. This can include everything from student-tended gardens and visits from local growers, to fieldtrips to the farmer’s market and crafting school lunches around seasonal ingredients. This allows children to create an up-close-and-personal relationship with the food they eat, empowering them to make informed, healthful decisions.

The easiest way to start a garden at home is with raised planter boxes like these.

The easiest way to start growing your garden at home is with raised planter boxes with liners.

Food-Smart Kids for Food-Smart Communities

Children take what they learn home with them. Parents and teachers see it every day. Remember when your first-grader demonstrated how to take a sip of milk and shoot it out of their nose? Let’s make sure that same 7-year-old knows their milk bubbles came from healthy, hormone-free cows at a local dairy (or at least from a cow!). That’s the sort of knowledge that rolls up to siblings, parents, and then families and communities as a whole. It feeds young bodies and minds while bolstering local economies and the environment.

Want to get involved in Farm to School Month from home?

Make your yard, patio or balcony an extension of the food knowledge your kids are gaining in class. Container gardening on any scale is a great lesson in growing herbs and other edibles. For small spaces try window boxes and railing planters. If you have a yard, traditional ground beds are great, or try raised garden plots to grow and harvest fruits and veggies right outside your back door.

Photo: FarmToSchool

Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

American Victory Gardens – A Brief History of Food and Freedom

Starting a garden is a fitting way to show your patriotism this Fourth of July. That’s right, fresh grown veggies and fruits are the very reason Cobb Salads and apple pies are so American. And, it just so happens, planting food for freedom is part of our nation’s history.

Victory, Garden Style

During the first half of the twentieth century, as our nation was entangled in World Wars I and II, growing fruits, vegetables and herbs was actually a part of the war effort. These civilian contributions came to be known as Victory Gardens.

By producing food locally, communities were able to subsist on their own harvests while easing demand on the national food supply. Plots ranged from small raised bed gardening on urban rooftops, to large suburban yards and rural fields. According to The National WWII Museum archives, at the height of the Victory Garden during World War II, there were more than 20 million individual plots operating across the USA. Now that’s what we call patriotic produce!

Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

Local Food Fuels Freedom

While container and vegetable gardening obviously did not win the war outright, communities banding together for the common good rightly demonstrates the American Way. While soldiers sacrificed to fight battles thousands of miles away, their families were at home helping to free up food supplies needed overseas while boosting civilian morale.

In peacetime, the same idea of better living and stronger communities rings true. Things have changed a lot since the Victory Gardens of WWII, but the lingering sentiment is just as relevant today. When we have access to our food source and understand its workings, Americans emerge empowered.

Present Day Victory Gardens

Today, nearly 70 years since the Second World War ended, the United States has undergone rapid changes in the way our food is produced, packaged and sold. While supply shortages are no longer a concern as a direct result of war, our country faces new struggles tied to sustenance. As evidenced by childhood and adolescent obesity rates that loom higher than ever (see: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), many Americans have gone astray when it comes to basic nutrition. When did we lose touch with what we put on our meal table?

Many claim the reason behind this quandary is simple: Limited knowledge of or connection to our food sources. Detachment leads to choices based on what is available and affordable, even if that means frozen and processed goods with little to no real nutrition. But what if we could change all that and put American communities back in touch with agriculture and the food they eat?

Several community-based and grassroots movements are aiming to do just that. The Victory Garden Initiative is one such effort, citing in their mission statement that, “When everyone is a farmer, we will have a socially and environmentally just food system.” Kind of like farming for freedom.

Food For Thought this 4th of July

Working to ensure there is fresh and wholesome meals on the table at breakfast, lunch and dinner is about as American as it gets. And on no day is this more apparent than July 4th. This summer, though, rather than relying fully on big box stores for mealtime ingredients, show your local farmers a little love. Or, better yet, grow your own!

To get started on a small scale, raised bed gardening in cedar or redwood is a great way to go. It works anywhere, from the back yard to a downtown rooftop. Also, check out some tips tied to the modern-day Victory Garden, courtesy of the aptly named PBS program.

"A Cheerful Hello" - WindowBoxContest.com Entry

Results of the 2013 Window Box Contest Are In!

Love to admire gorgeous railing and window planters teeming with botanicals? You’re not the only one! It’s this appreciation for the best window boxes and flower arrangements that makes Hooks & Lattice so proud to sponsor the nationwide Window Box Contest each year.

Today, we congratulate the 2013 contest winners across four categories. Additionally, to all entrants, we warmly thank you for participating. Each contestant serves to grow our online community of passionate container gardeners. And it’s our belief that the more beauty and inspiration there is to go around, the better.

Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for – it’s time to announce the victors!

 

Winner #1 – Window Planters On A Wall

"Seeing Red"

“Seeing Red”

Our first category was ripe with competition last year. But in the end, Stella Anastasia’s Seeing Redarrangement proved simply irresistible. Tapered Copper Window Boxes provide the ideal contrast against bright white siding. And the whole presentation pops beneath a noteworthy red roof.

 


 

"A Cheerful Hello"

“A Cheerful Hello”

 

Winner # 2 – Railing Planters Category

And the prize goes to: A Cheerful Helloby Joe McGarvey. This green thumb knew what he was doing with texture and color, layering in dimensional vine and floral combos. And making the whole display possible is two affordable railing planter boxes – beautiful and budget friendly. Couldn’t be any better if we’d dreamt it.


Winner #3 – Most Creative Window Box

"Marvelous Mandevilla"

“Marvelous Mandevilla”

Our winner is “Marvelous Mandevilla” submitted by Joanne Ahern. Can you believe this was once an unremarkable greenhouse riddled with exposed valves and eyesores? Joanne really outdid herself using a pair of window planters and cleverly placed mirrors to finish her space off in gorgeous fashion.


Winner #4 – Before & After

Sweet, sweet curb appeal is the real winner in this category. Along with contestant Stefanie Meyers and her “Summer of Abundant Colors” entry. Talk about a transformation! This clever homeowner used our Presidential Vinyl Window Boxes in red to match her front door. And by adding flower arrangements for shade she capitalized on a tricky environment, resulting in a spotlight on her light grey home’s exterior.

"Summer of

“Summer of

Abundant Color"

Abundant Color”


You Could Be A Winner in 2014!

All you have to do is enter by uploading photos onto the contest website.

This year we will feature three exciting categories of competition. Along with bragging rights, winners will receive garden-centric prizes to delight their taste for outdoor living. Let the container gardening games begin!

How to Add Curb Appeal with Outdoor Planters

Group outdoor planters together for a welcoming burst of color on the deck or patio.

Group outdoor planters together for a welcoming burst of color on the deck or patio.

Admit it: your house might not be the dumpiest on the street, but it could probably use a little pick-me-up. It doesn’t take much to spruce up your house and add a little extra curb appeal, especially through container gardening. Outdoor planters are a fantastic and easy way to add a little extra oomph and increase your home’s curb appeal.

Flank front entrances symmetrically with vinyl planters for a curb appeal knockout!

Flank front entrances symmetrically with vinyl planters for a curb appeal knockout!

Entryway

The front door can speak volumes about a house – it’s where visitors get their first impression of your home and the people inside. Outdoor planters can add a touch of life to the entryway to make your home more inviting and warm. When decorating around the front door, symmetry is key. Add a tall planter box, like the Doral Terra Cotta Half Round Planter, to either side of your front door with bright flowers or tall leafy plants. Line the walkway to your front door with smaller planter boxes in coordinating plants and flowers. A great option is the neutral but stylish Palo Alto Redwood Planter. Choose plants that fit with the overall style and feel of your home, such as papyrus for a modern home or impatiens for a more traditional style.

Driveway

An often forgotten part of the home, the driveway and garage doors have a huge impact on curb appeal. Not only is the driveway one of the largest parts of a home’s outdoor space, but it is virtually a blank canvas full of possibility. To spice up an often bland area, place outdoor planters between the garage doors. Tall planters, such as this Tall Tapered Patio Planter, can add height to a space and break up the monotony of multiple garage doors. Add plants such as verbena or alyssum for a pop of energy-just make sure the planters are far enough away from the garage door that you won’t hit them with your car! To define the driveway with more than just concrete, place large planter pots along the edges. For these planters, it is better to opt for lower plants like coleus or white licorice that will define the space but still allow you to see into the front yard and entryway.

entrance-planters

Deck

Just because a deck might be on the backside of the house doesn’t mean it can escape a curb appeal improvement. Instead of allowing your deck to turn into a yard furniture wasteland, add some large planter boxes. The color and life will work wonders on the space and create a more defined outdoor entertaining area. A grouping of large planter pots full of coordinating plants is an easy way to add a sense of style and personality to your deck.

Low planter boxes around the edge of the deck set off the area but still allow view into the backyard and surrounding areas. A great option is the versatile Hampton deck planter, which looks great on its own or lined with others.

Ready to start your own container garden?

Shop outdoor planters now for the best selection of the season!

Early Spring Flowers and Window Planters that You Will Love

hayrack-window-box-purple-flowers

Shown: Mariposa Hayrack Trough Window Box with Coconut Liner and beautiful purple flowers; sent in by Alissa D.

Spring is just around the corner and with the change of seasons comes the opportunity to spruce up your spring garden. Whether you plan on planting a flower bed or are looking for other alternatives, learn more about your available options before spring finally arrives. Keep reading and you will discover early spring flowers and window planters that you will fall in love with.

Planning Your Landscaping

Before you start picking out your early spring flowers, it is a good idea to come up with a plan. Take a moment to think about the layout of your yard. For those with a patio, add life to your yard by placing standing planters around your patio. A tall tapered patio planter and other planters will brighten up your patio. To match wrought iron fences and other black trim around your yard, a standing planter with a metal frame is both elegant and convenient. There are plenty of ways to decorate the outside of your home, make sure that you consider some of the following options:

  • Window boxes and planters
  • Flower stands
  • Hanging planters
  • The flowers that you would like to plant
xl-catalina-pvc-window-box-BettyG

Betty G. painted her XL Catalina PVC Window Planters to match the exterior house paint. Her container garden continues to flourish!

When planning the arrangement of your flowers and garden, do not forget about the outside of your house. Window sills are a great way to add charm to your home. Planting a flower bed is one thing; though, why not work your way up your home by installing planters along your window sills.

Choosing Where to Place Your Flowers

medallion-decora-pvc-liners-KaraC

Kara’s successful balcony garden of early spring flowers has Medallion Decora Window Boxes to thank!

Just because you have a small yard does not mean that you are out of options for your spring garden. Many people forget about decorating their actual house when planning their home gardening projects. Planters and flower boxes will hang on the outside of your windows, requiring no yard space. This is a beautiful way to add to the appeal of your home. No matter what style of home you have, there is sure to be flower boxes that will match the look of your house. For example, for a modern home, consider purchasing contemporary window boxes.

With hundreds of options to choose from for your plants and flowers, spend some time browsing your options to match the aesthetics of your home. To go along with your black shutters, you can purchase wrought iron flower cages. Using simple curves, an iron flower cage makes a beautiful showcase for the plants that you have chosen. Other options include wooden boxes, such as red cedar plantersNo matter what you choose, you are sure to add to your curb appeal.

Another spring flower success story thanks to Royal Vinyl Window Boxes.

Another spring flower success story thanks to Royal Vinyl Window Boxes.

Your window sills are not the only location that you can install bases for your flowers. They can also be installed along fences and even the side of your home. When you are deciding on your planters or boxes, think outside the box and consider the outside of your home one large canvas.

While the flowers that you plant may not last through the winter, the durable window planters that you install can be used year after year. Always choose quality material that can resist weather conditions. Being outdoors, they will have to deal with plenty of rain and wind. Once you start populating your garden with your selection of flowers, you will truly enjoy spending more time with your family outdoors.

Hooks & Lattice now offers consultation for those of you who aren’t sure what to get. Call toll free 888-896-0978 to speak with our Design Department today about which window boxes fit your home’s architectural style.

Wrought iron juliet balcony

What is a Juliet Balcony?

Wrought iron juliet balcony

Adding a wrought iron Juliet balcony can improve your home’s curb appeal.

Whether you’re looking for a way to spice up your plain, unassuming home or you’re afraid someone may take a tumble out of an upper story floor-to-ceiling window, Juliet balconies are exactly what you need.  Unlike a traditional balcony that takes up outdoor space, requires frequent maintenance to ensure safety and can be expensive to install, a Juliet balcony allows your floor-to-ceiling windows or patio doors to open fully, bringing the feel of an outdoor patio to an interior space.

Juliet balconies are essentially just railings that mount to the exterior of a home, either directly to the siding or between columns or along ledges, creating the illusion of a fully functional balcony from afar.  There are loads of styles to choose from, adding curb appeal to any style home or building.  Small apartments and businesses benefit from the addition of Juliet balconies, especially when rail planters, hanging baskets or shutters are added to the picture.

What’s in a Name?

Juliet balconies go by a plethora of names, including “faux balcony” and “balconet.”  The name “Juliet” gives a nod to the Shakespearean play, “Romeo and Juliet,” and appears in architecture catalogs from the 1920s.  Even then, the idea of opening up interior spaces and bringing lots of fresh air indoors was appealing where space was limited.  Many of the buildings from that era still have their original iron Juliet balconies, especially those with French and Spanish influenced architecture.

Today’s Juliet balconies are made from a wider range of materials than those in the past, running the gamut from traditional wrought iron to lightweight, durable aluminum or steel.  Some modern buildings have turned the Juliet balcony on its head by removing the bars in favor of thick pieces of glass – it just goes to show that no matter your architectural flavor, there’s a Juliet balcony perfect for your building.

Juliet balconies with plants

Installing window boxes and hanging baskets on faux balconies makes them even more appealing. Image from balconette.co.uk.

 

Safety with a Juliet Balcony

Not only do Juliet balconies look nice, they can help keep your family safe both during and after construction.  Floor to ceiling windows and large doors that open to nothing are potential fall hazards for children and adults alike.  Juliet balconies typically reach about waist-high on adults and have tightly spaced bars, ensuring that no one accidentally stumbles into a broken leg during a party.

Replacing a second story deck or building one from scratch can take a lot of time if you’re just working on it over the weekend.  This is a great reason to install a temporary Juliet balcony.  With the upper story door secured by a metal railing, there’s no more worrying that someone will leave it unlocked or open it without thinking – now you can take your time designing and building the perfect upper story deck.

No matter your reasons for installing a Juliet balcony, durable aluminum, iron and steel options will give you many years of service for much less money than a standard balcony and without the hassles.  Many companies, like Hooks & Lattice, will even work with you on a custom design to give your home a unique touch.

composite raised bed garden kit has everything needed.">Composite lumber raised garden bed

How Do You Build a Raised Garden Bed?

Composite lumber raised garden bed

A composite raised bed garden kit includes everything needed.

We all imagine that our gardens will be beautiful, thriving oases of green, springing right out of the ground, but it’s not always possible without a great deal of hard work and manipulation of native soils that may be full of clay, rocks or sand. Enter the raised bed garden! Whether you need to raise your beds just above the ground and start with fresh soil, or bring your garden up to a height where bending is no longer necessary, raised beds may be the perfect solution to your gardening problems.

Benefits to Raised Bed Gardening

Raised beds are great in areas where the soil is difficult to work, or when you want to add an elevated feature to your landscape – kits are available to build complicated garden shapes that can be useful to segregate herbs in gardens or aggressive plants that may escape a traditional garden and run wild. When you build a raised bed, you have a unique opportunity to tailor the soil conditions to the plants you intend to grow, rather than having to force those conditions onto soil that may be resistant.

Many gardeners prefer to use raised beds for vegetables and small fruits, since they can be caged with strong wire to protect seedlings and young transplants from wild animals. Sometimes, gardeners build custom-fit plastic hoop houses for their raised beds – when properly designed, these additions allow gardeners to get a jump on planting, since they act like tiny greenhouses.

Decorative raised garden bed

Raised garden beds can take fanciful shapes.

 

Raised Bed Gardening Challenges

Unfortunately, raised gardens don’t function exactly the same as plowed garden plots, and may sometimes require a great deal of manual care, especially when the time comes to clean up dead plants after harvest. Instead of plowing plants back into the soil, it’s often less disruptive to pull them out of the bed, leading to significant time investments. Of course, if you only have a few beds, or your raised bed plants are perennials, this isn’t a concern.

The size of a raised bed is limited by your ability to reach across it, and, in the case of a raised garden on legs, the weight of wet soil. This is why raised beds are rarely more than four feet across – most people can reach two feet into the bed from either side. You must be careful to prevent soil compaction caused by walking or leaning on the soil in the bed, or plant roots may have trouble penetrating. In addition, a bed that’s only four feet wide shouldn’t be expected to accommodate anything bigger than a four or five foot wide bush, limiting your planting options.

Setting Up Your Raised Beds

Planning and setting up your raised beds is a precision task, though one easy enough for a homeowner with a few simple tools. The most important part of planning is choosing your bed’s location – after all, they’re not exactly easy to move once constructed and filled with soil. For example, you would place a raised bed intended for vegetables in a location that gets at least eight hours of bright sunlight each day, instead of in a spot that suddenly becomes shady when the trees leaf out.

Many people start their first raised beds with commercial kits containing cedar or composite boards and specially designed joints that ensure their garden comes out perfect. You can prolong the life of your garden by placing the frame on top of a geotextile fabric that will prevent perennial weeds from working their way up through the soil. Never use black plastic, as this material can cause drainage problems under raised bed gardens.

Once in place, you need only fill your bed with lots of rich, well-draining soil and pop your plants into their new homes. You can even build trellises over the beds to allow vining plants to climb unhindered, or train them into a central arch that runs between two beds. Raised gardens allow nearly endless possibilities for a gardener with a creative streak.