Should raised garden beds be planted on a gradual slope?

My wife and I are planting raised garden beds for the first time this Spring. I had plans to level the ground where the raised bed was going to make it look nicer. But my mother-in-law, a master gardener herself, suggested a gradual slope for the bed because the dirt underneath where we were planting may not be the highest quality.


She thinks a slope for water drainage might be a good idea. Not sure I totally follow this, but curious what the community thinks?

  Topic Around the House/DIY/Gardening Subtopic Gardening Tags raised garden beds garden beds
5 Months 3 Answers 589 views

Peter Yeargin

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Answers ( 3 )

  1. David Miller 480 Accepted Answer Community Answer


    Raised beds are a fantastic way to grow vegetables! I have 3 large beds in my backyard. None of them are on a gradual slope. The biggest concern I would have with a sloped bed would be water running to the bottom end. This could potentially leave the top side a bit dry, and the bottom side a bit wet. I would try to make the soil depth at least 12 inches if possible to help avoid any pour drainage issues below. My backyard is basically a clay pit and I have not had any issues with my raised beds. I highly recommend a mix of soil in your bed that is about 33% perlite, 33% compost, and 33% coconut coir or peat moss. The soil stays loose, drains well, and doesn't compact too quickly.

    good luck with your garden!

    UTC 2021-04-19 12:50 PM 1 Comment
  2. We are deep in the weeds of our first year planting in raised beds here, and we leveled the ground underneath them.  The theory I heard was that you shouldn't be planting anything that needs deeper roots than the soil you have in the bed, and so the quality of the ground underneath / drainage of the ground doesn't matter as much.

    That said, we're first time gardeners ourselves, so if someone knows better, I'd be glad to hear about it!

    UTC 2021-04-16 02:08 PM 0 Comments
  3. You can construct raised beds on a slope, it is easier and less expensive if you can find a part of your yard that is somewhat level. Sloping yards will need to have beds created in a retaining wall fashion, stepping down into tiers to create level individual order to properly provide the necessary ingredients for a successful garden. 

    Raised bed gardening is a great way to grow vegetables, especially if the native soil is poor or compacted or has poor drainage. The soil in raised beds warms up more quickly in spring so planting can be done earlier. And if the bed is narrow, 3 feet or less, there will be no need to step on the soil and thus it prevents compaction. It is much easier for roots to grow in loose soil.

    Choose a location that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily, preferably more. If the site is not level, it will need to be leveled before building your raised bed. Ideally, the site will not be shaded by trees or have competition from tree roots in the soil. Remove lawn in the location before adding soil to the bed.

    The ideal width of a raised bed is 3-4 feet, so that veggies will be within an arm's reach from either side. If you are siting a raised bed against a fence, wall or other backdrop, the width should be narrower so you can reach to the back of the bed. The ideal length of the bed is limited only by your space and materials.

    The bed may be made of wood, stone, brick, metal, cinderblocks, or any other material from which you can build a base at least 12 inches deep.

    Fill the bed with good quality raised bed soil, which can be a mix of native soil, compost, and lightweight amendments such as peat and perlite that improve drainage!

    Almost any type of vegetables can be grown in raised beds, though most gardeners limit their raised beds to annuals only

    UTC 2021-04-16 03:10 PM 0 Comments

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