Do Raised Garden Beds Need Drainage?

Vego Garden
Vego Garden

Raised garden beds are innovative and useful inventions for gardening. They are a great addition to your garden, allowing you the flexibility to grow different plants such as vegetables and flowers in separate containers. 

Raised garden beds allow people to grow their plants above the ground practically anywhere. You can add raised beds to the front yard, backyard, patio area, balcony, into the side of a hill or slope, or even create a rooftop garden. 

Vego Garden's metal raised garden beds are all modular designs, giving you the ability to customize the shape and size to fit any space. Our garden beds are tall enough that you can place them on a hard surface, such as concrete, with no drainage issues. Check out our collections at:

Do Raised Garden Beds Need Drainage | Vego Garden

When it comes to purchasing raised garden beds, you might be wondering if raised garden beds need drainage. Drainage is an important process when you are growing plants in a container, as poor drainage can cause the soil to become oversaturated or waterlogged, stunting plant growth. Good drainage is necessary when you are using raised garden beds. The below article examines the importance of drainage and lists several ways you can improve the drainage in your garden bed.

Importance of drainage:

Do Raised Garden Beds Need Drainage | Vego Garden

Proper drainage is important for the overall health of a plant when you are growing it in an enclosed container. It leads to healthier plants because well-drained soil delivers the ideal balance of water and air circulation to the roots, allowing them to withstand even severe weather conditions.

The roots of plants require a good amount of oxygen in order to absorb nutrients from the soil. Poor drainage means the soil will hold an extra amount of water, which will displace the oxygen, suffocating the plant’s roots and causing detrimental effects if left unchecked. 

Another reason drainage is important is it reduces soil erosion and nutrient loss from runoff. This is why you need proper drainage in your plant container. With poor drainage, the roots will rot, resulting in decay and the proliferation of fungal diseases. 

Drainage is an important aspect of gardening that many gardeners tend to overlook. However, it is essential in removing excess water from the soil and allowing plants to absorb the right amount of water according to their requirements. Since installing drain tiles in the yard can be a costly process, we recommend purchasing metal raised beds as a less expensive solution.

How a Raised Bed Improves Drainage:

Oftentimes the native soil in your yard is unsuitable for growing plants, as it may have poor drainage or subpar composition. It can also contain heavy metals or pesticides. Raised garden beds are ideal for those with limited space or poor soil, as they can improve drainage by giving you control over the soil quality and condition.  

Soil composition is crucial in determining the overall success and health of a garden. A heavy clay soil, which has small, fine particles, has poor drainage. Potting soil drains too quickly and lacks essential nutrients to sustain your plants for a prolonged period. The ideal soil type is sandy loam, which is essentially soil that is loose, well-draining, and rich in organic matter. Instead of undertaking the tedious process of amending the existing soil or installing a drainage system, which can be costly, you can simply buy a garden bed and fill it with high quality soil to improve your drainage. 

How you can Improve Drainage: 

To ensure an optimal soil mixture, you can buy specialty bagged raised garden bed soil to fill your raised bed or you can experiment by combining garden soil with potting soil, making sure to use more garden soil than potting mix, usually at a 5:1 ratio. 

Raised garden beds have less soil compaction, which allows water to flow more easily through the soil. To aerate the soil, you can loosen the soil gently using a pitchfork or shovel. You can also consider adding worms to your soil. Worms improve the soil structure and drainage of your soil You can buy them at a bait shop, garden shop, or get them from your yard. 

Avoid lining the bed with rocks: You should avoid putting rocks in the bottom of your garden bed. A common myth is that this will improve drainage. Instead, this can actually increase water saturation levels as well as allow gravel to mix in with your soil, which can prove very difficult to remove later on.

Consider the location: It is important to situate your garden bed in a place that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. You should not situate your garden bed in an area where water tends to gather after a heavy rainstorm. You can consider choosing a raised bed with higher elevation if you live in an area with constant rainfall. Vego Garden offers a 32" tall raised metal bed option, which is especially beneficial in areas prone to flooding and marshy environments.

Use soil amendments: You can amend the soil if you are not receiving optimal results. For example, if your soil is experiencing drainage problems, add perlite. Some common soil amendments include perlite, vermiculite, sand, and bark. Perlite increases soil aeration and promotes drainage, making it ideal for plants with low water needs. Vermiculite, a hydrous phyllosilicate mineral, increases soil aeration as well, but also facilitates water retention, making it ideal for plants that require more watering. 

By contrast, sand reduces water retention, which you can add if you want to grow cacti or succulents, which thrive in sandier soils. Plants such as carrots prefer smoother soil, making sand ideal for them. Be wary of sand containing salts, which are corrosive and can kill your plants. 

Compost, which consists of decomposed organic material, is the ideal soil amendment because it enriches the soil with essential nutrients without leaching chemicals into the soil. Organic mulches will also help with water drainage. You should apply organic compost or mulch to your garden bed to improve the soil quality.

Watering Tips:

  • You should water early in the morning or late evening to prevent evaporation. Keep in mind the surrounding temperature and climate, which will indicate how much watering is needed. Increase watering frequency during times of drought or hot temperatures. 
  • You should aim for the base of the plants, at the root level, and avoid spraying the leaves of your plants, which can damage it and promote the spread of disease. 
  • For more efficient watering, you can consider using a soaker hose or an irrigation drip system instead of a sprinkler, which tends to waste water and cause problems related to fungal diseases. 
  • You may find it helpful to add a layer of mulch, as it can reduce runoff and retain soil moisture.


Poor drainage leads to many adverse effects on your plants, including rot, pests, and fungal disease. Raised garden beds can improve the drainage in your garden if your yard contains poor quality soil. If you find that your garden raised bed is experiencing poor drainage, there are many ways to improve the drainage in your raised garden bed. You can decide the amount of watering according to the unique requirements of your plants, which vary depending on their composition. Research the nature of your plants to ensure adequate water requirements for a flourishing garden bed.

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