5 Best Materials to Put Under My Raised Garden Bed
(Updated April 13, 2023)
If you’re planning to use raised garden beds for the first time this year, you may wonder if you should line the bottom with anything. The answer will depend on the type of raised bed you plan to use and the plants you plan to grow.
Table of Contents:
- Should You Line the Bottom of a Raised Garden Bed?
- What to Put on the Bottom of a Raised Garden Bed
- Wide-mesh hardware cloth
- Stainless steel gopher or rat mesh
- Landscape fabric
- Burlap sack
- Newspaper or cardboard
- Tips for Lining the Bottom of Your Raised Garden Bed
Yes, in most cases, you should line the bottom of your raised garden bed. The term raised garden bed most often refers to a garden bed that is built with sides of some kind (whether the bed sits directly on the ground or is supported by legs). Still, it can also refer to a more primitive raised bed, where the soil is mounded higher than the ground around it. One example of this practice is Hugelkultur, where plants are grown in a high-mounded bed with a base of rotting plant debris and logs. While it is possible to line mounded beds or even in-soil gardens, it is not required for success.
We recommend lining the bottom of your raised garden bed for several reasons. For beds that sit directly on the ground, a lining helps with the following:
- Reduces the presence of weeds.
- Discourages pests (like voles, moles, or gophers.)
- Makes the bed more durable.
- Insulates the soil and helps maintain a more consistent temperature.
- Prevents potential chemical leaching to plant roots.
Beds off the ground and supported by legs are built or manufactured with a bottom. We recommend lining this space with a permeable material (like a weed mat or landscape fabric) to help preserve the structure and prevent soil loss when watering.
Related Topic: Low-Maintenance Vegetables to Grow for Canadian Gardens
The materials recommended for lining your raised garden bed will vary based on several factors, including the type of bed, your garden goals, and the environment you’re growing in. Popular choices include the following
This material keeps weeds and burrowing animals out and lets beneficial insects in—critical to a healthy garden. Insects like earthworms help aerate and enrich the soil, which benefits plant health.
This durable material is designed to keep burrowing animals out, so they don’t destroy the roots of your plants.
If you have a weed problem in your yard, landscape fabric helps prevent unwanted weed growth from overtaking your raised garden beds.
Have some old potato sacks on hand? They will make a great weed stopper for the bottom of your garden bed. They are porous enough to let water in, but durable enough to keep weeds out.
Even this simple, inexpensive material can help block weed growth from below your garden beds. Lay them on the ground and set up your garden bed on top of them, and then pile soil and other amendments on top.
Staple any materials except newspaper or cardboard to the bottom of your bed to prevent them from shifting throughout the year.
When choosing a lining material, consider the moisture needs of your plants. Raised beds are likely to dry out faster due to airflow than beds in the ground. Adding a layer of absorbent materials like shredded newspaper and cardboard to your bed will help retain moisture in the soil. A good blend of compost and a layer of mulch on top of your bed will also help reduce the rate of evaporation.
Avoid lining your garden beds with plastic, as this prevents drainage and could drown your plants’ roots. If you have a weed and pest problem, consider installing a combination of metal mesh and fabric or hardware cloth and cardboard.
It’s essential to turn over and amend the soil in your raised bed every so often (usually with each new planting), just like with an in-ground bed. When your growing season draws to a close, be careful not to pull or rip at any cloth or mesh lining.
Related Topic: DIY Raised Garden Beds
Focus on the Veggies, and We’ll Do the Rest
Your local landscape pros at The Grounds Guys® are experts when it comes to lawn and garden care. Our goal is to make your yard more enjoyable—so you can spend less time working on it and more time enjoying it. Whether you have a raised bed or in ground garden, maintaining a thriving vegetable or flower garden is a lot more enjoyable when you let us do all the dirty work. So, leave the lawn and bed maintenance (pulling weeds, aerating the soil, cleaning up the edges of your flower beds) to us, and we’ll leave the veggies to you.