Do you live in an area with heavy, dense soil? In this soil, growing any kind of nutritious crop is a chore. You may find yourself ploughing every year because the nutrients in the soil have been depleted. Or you may find yourself revising it every season with little success.

This situation calls for a raised bed. Not only can you build your own soil on land that is hard to farm, but you can also reduce problems such as soil erosion and, most importantly, poor drainage. Even if you want a high quality, nutrient-rich medium to grow your plants, the raised beds don't need expensive fillers.

Here we will introduce the concept of building lifting beds to increase the drainage capacity of your garden. We will start by examining the importance of drainage and then discuss how to develop a healthy raised bed garden with good drainage.

garden bed

Why is drainage important?

Your garden needs good drainage to allow proper root growth. Good drainage goes hand in hand with proper soil ventilation. This not only gives plant roots room to move through the soil, but also gives nutrients and microbes greater mobility. The high exchange of nutrients makes the plant overall healthy.

With good drainage, your soil has a chance to retain more water and nutrients, allowing plants to use them for longer. This also prevents erosion caused by growing food crops and farming. Likewise, the support that good drainage brings to a garden on slopes and hills is vital!

Another benefit of a good drainage system is the ability to direct and collect any runoff. In many areas, being able to conserve water means you're covered during dry spells.

What causes poor garden drainage?

The type of soil you are dealing with is key in determining how well your garden drains. Heavy clay tends to contain a lot of water. If your soil is clay and your drainage system may be poor, building raised beds will help you develop a better draining garden.

At the same time, you don't want a highly sandy soil that drains well and doesn't have nutrients to feed your plants. In this case, it is modified with water-retaining elements to support healthy plant growth. Elevated soil contributes to poor drainage of soils with too much water in them and soils that cannot retain water.

Some plants need a lot of water to grow healthy and strong, while others need very little. Many plants are prone to root rot if left in water for a long time. Too much water is one of the main causes of plant death. Too little water can have the same result, but in a different context.

How to test drainage

There is an easy way to test your soil to see how well it drains, and it is best to do this before you build your seedbed rather than waiting until it is filled. Dig a hole 10 inches deep in any part of the garden. Fill the hole with water and wait for all the water to sink into the ground.

Then, fill the hole again with water. If this water is not lost within about 10 hours, the soil is poorly drained and not suitable for most plants.

Build lifting beds to improve drainage

The most common way to provide proper drainage for plants is to create a raised bed garden. A raised bed is a simple structure that holds the soil in place and keeps plants off the ground.

You can make a raised bed from a variety of materials, such as blocks, bricks, or wood. We favored the bird's original raised garden bed, made of aluminum-zinc steel. The key is to make sure the plant is at least 8 inches off the ground. In some areas, more is better.

Soft soil allows roots to grow freely, and drainage prevents them from rotting. After watering it a few times, you may need to add more soil to compensate for its settlement. A raised bed garden does take some work, but the results show it's all worth it.

Raise beds for the garden

garden bed

Grassy areas can cause bigger problems. If you are planting a bed in grass, remove the grass with a tiller or stirrup hoe first. Then cover the bare ground with a layer of straw, mulch, cardboard or rock. These will keep the grass from growing back out of the dirt and onto your garden bed. They also prevent erosion that can occur when a raised bed is placed directly on the ground.

While you don't need to make sure your bed is level, it can greatly help retain moisture and drain water. You can place the raised bed on the obstacle of your choice and check with a level to see if it's worth it to you. Use existing soil, rock, or even sand to cover the weed barrier to level your bed, as needed.

Fill the raised bunk

The ugelkultur method involves planting soil on a layer of large logs, then filling the gaps with twigs and leaves and compost. The most important is that there is usually an abundance of growing media. A great way to save money when you build your high bed is to hug inside the bed.

As the giant gum breaks down, beneficial microbes and fungi grow on the wood, and you have a constantly replenishing soil. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that in season one, the soil in your bed will settle about 6 inches. When you treat soil for the next growing season, you need to add more soil than simply using bagged soil or composite materials.

Alternatively, you can fill your bed with a high quality raised rise. Most soil companies have some kind of mixture specially formulated for lifting beds. These have drainage materials, nutrients and water retention materials suitable for growing vegetables. You can also make your own organic lifting bed soil.

While this is more expensive than using local materials for growing garden beds such as twigs, branches and leaves, it is definitely doable, and you don't need to refill your bed at the end of the season as you would with thick glue or sheet stuffing.

Improve drainage of raised river beds

So, now you've tested your soil. What should you do if you find that the water doesn't drain well? There are many different ways to improve your bed's drainage. Before you add anything to the garden, do a soil test to make sure you're not doing too much.

Additive method

To improve the structure of the soil, you can add compost. This provides some nutrients to the soil and some acidity to more alkaline soils. Compost protects bare topsoil and also helps retain moisture (if that's what you need).

Finally, compost can increase the circumference of sandy or ultra-light soil. If you're growing a variety of plants that like acidic soil, try not to add too many at once.

Add some perlite to the soil if its water content exceeds the desired level. Green Spaces can also aid drainage and provide a source of iron, potassium and magnesium for gardens. A very simple way to improve seedbed drainage is to cover plants with mulch. This retains water and improves soil structure as it decomposes.

Table overlay

Another fun way to improve the drainage of your lifting bed is to mulch directly over the soil. Of course, this is best prepared during the growing season, either before you plant in bed or in between plants. You need at least a few months for the mulch and compost to break down. Keep it moist during this time, then plant.


You can use a hand cultivator to plow the field and allow the soil to air between plants, preferably between seasons. If your manual tiller won't be able to carve the soil surface, a heavy tool like a wide fork will do. Insert the broad fork into the soil and gently lift it up. Make sure you are not destroying the roots of existing plants in your bed. After aerating the soil, an improver can be added if necessary.The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.

No-till gardening\

garden bed

You might be wondering whether it's better to till or not till. If your soil is well aerated, you can do no-till gardening. At the end of the season, leave your roots on raised beds and cut off the top of the plant for compost or as mulch, which will improve drainage. Roots provide air to the soil. Repeated uprooting of plants can damage soil structure.

Mulch tillage

Raised cover crops planted in colder seasons prevent topsoil erosion. They also feed the soil and provide ventilation and mulch for the soil as you cut down the crop.

When cover crops are grown in the soil, you can raise beneficial fungi and microbes, thereby improving the condition of the soil overall. Soil temperatures are regulated more effectively and weeds have nowhere to grow. Remember that your cover crop is ready to be harvested when it is 50-80% in bloom.

March 31, 2023

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.