The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.

Permanent Raised Bed Gardening: Site Selection

Select a sunny location for your raised bed garden. Generally, the more hours of sunlight the garden receives, the better the crops will perform. Sites that do not receive at least half a day of full sun should not be considered. Trees compete with the garden for nutrients and water as well as sunlight. Select a site out from under the drip line of trees.

The ideal location also should provide wind protection. Springtime winds are notorious for snapping the tender stems of young plants. Summer winds increase water use by plants and, under severe conditions, dry out or desiccate foliage. A border of shrubs is effective in reducing wind speed, as are various types of fences. An artificial windbreak can be constructed of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic mesh available at most farm supply and home improvement stores. This is the same type of material used as barrier fencing around construction sites. Reducing wind speed reduces plant stress, which pays dividends in the form of earlier and greater yields.

Locate the garden near a water source. Although raised bed gardening offers many advantages, beds tend to dry out more quickly because of their elevation. Consequently, irrigation is mandatory. Consult the chapter on drip irrigation for information on installing a drip irrigation system in the raised bed garden.

A few property owners are blessed with productive soil. However, most are not. If soil at the planned site is inadequate from a gardening perspective, don't despair. None of the soil used in the Noble Foundation raised beds is native to the site – it has been trucked in. A quality soil delivered to the site allows the gardener to overcome the limitations imposed by tight clay or rocky soil.

plastic mesh
Plastic mesh provides a perfect windbreak for raised bed gardens.
Bootstrap Community Garden
Scale drawing of the Martin Luther King Jr. Outreach Center's Bootstrap Community Garden in Ardmore, Okla.
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