Experienced gardeners use raised beds to sidestep a long list of gardening challenges. These controlled experiments in plant parenthood are so easy, in fact, that they’re also well-suited to novices picking up a shovel for the first time.
Bad dirt is out, because you fill a raised bed with a customized soil-and-compost blend. Drainage is built into the bed walls, which hold the soil in place to keep erosion in check. Greater exposure to the sun warms the bed, which allows more plant diversity and extends the growing season. Plants can be spaced closely together, so yields go up, water-use efficiency is maximized and weeds are crowded out. Finally, raising the soil level by even a foot reduces the back-bending effort needed for jobs such as planting, weeding and harvesting.