Raised Garden Beds vs. In-Ground Beds: Which is Best for Your Garden?

One debate that has gained a foothold on American culture is the debate between Coke v. Pepsi. Some food connoisseurs attest that their taste buds can pick up the most miniscule of differences while less discerning types complain that the taste between brands is negligible. 

An ongoing debate among gardeners is whether raised garden beds or in-ground beds are better for your garden.

Proponents of garden beds argue that raised beds are low maintenance, facilitate accessibility, and increase productivity. Fans of in-ground beds maintain that they are low-cost and offer more growing space. Unlike the debate between the two soft drinks, which is rather overstated, this is one you’ll be wanting to pay attention to. 

While in-ground garden beds do offer some benefits, many experienced gardeners will agree that raised garden beds are worth the investment.

This article explores the pros and cons to using each type of gardening bed and some misconceptions behind raised garden beds.

Benefits of raised garden beds

Sunlit Oak Garden Bed | Vego Garden
Sunlit Oak Garden Bed

People are not the only things stressed – a casual stroll around the neighborhood will reveal barren areas dominated by dead trees. Whether due to environmental stressors or population stressors, wilted trees have become a common occurrence.

Luckily, more finicky plants do well in raised garden beds, which allows for a controlled growing environment. Below are several reasons why raised garden beds are better for vegetable and flower gardeners. 

  • Facilitate comfort: Gardening shouldn’t be a chore, but it can sure seem like it when your limbs are bent uncomfortably under the scorching sun. 17" tall beds offer plenty of relief, but 32" raised beds are ideal for those with compromised mobility, ensuring that everyone is able to enjoy their garden space.  
  • Less work: Many gardening practices call for the uprooting of turf grasses, especially if you are looking for a complete overhaul. Not only does this remove sod, but its invasive nature can result in a significant loss of organic material. With raised garden beds, you are piling soil directly over the ground, eliminating the need for back-breaking labor. 
  • Control over soil quality: Many people’s backyards are unsightly, and worse, packed with heavy clay. Subpar soil and environmental stress can lead to a number of detrimental effects, including soil erosion, stunted root growth, and disease. With raised garden beds, productivity surges due to the soil quality, improved drainage, and increased room for root expansion. 
  • Deters pests and prevents weeds: Pests often become an afterthought in gardens once the planting urge hits, but your plants are not afterthoughts to gophers, mice, and other pests that can wander into your garden. Raised beds act as a weed suppression and as a layer of defense against pests, which can be fortified further with gopher nets against tunneling invaders. 
  • Prevents plants from being trampled: Dogs (and children) can quickly become your #1 garden pests once they start trampling all over your plants. No matter how pretty your flowers are, pets will still run amok without regard for the surrounding environment. The raised sides of the garden beds deter foot traffic from your garden, saving both your plants and your sanity.  

Benefits of in-ground beds

In-Ground Garden Bed
In-Ground Garden Bed

As the name suggests, in-ground beds are beds started on the ground, where the soil is modified using compost, tiling, or other amendment processes. Usually, in-ground beds are a quick solution for gardeners who want to start growing right away or are only seeking to grow a few plants. 

  • Less costly: It’s true that in-ground beds do not require much upfront cost, and may appeal to gardeners whose repertoire consists entirely of hardy plants that thrive on neglect. While that may be the case, the costs do add up in the long-term – in-grounds beds will need to be maintained by large power tools, soil amendments, and mulch. 
  • More rustic, free-spirited look: Unfettered by the restrictions of raised beds, plants in in-ground garden beds are allowed to expand and integrate with the surrounding landscape, resulting in a more rustic and naturalistic look. Groundcovers can be used to fill in crevices between stone pavements and shaded walkways, and stately oaks can line a fence. Although the degree of artistic freedom is debated, in-ground beds do allow for a more expansive remodeling of your yard.  
  • Popular among large-scale growers: Farmers, nurseries, and those with miles of acreage may benefit from in-ground gardens – its low-lying terrain prove more amenable to tractors, mowers, and other large gardening implements. However, this circumstance is generally not applicable to the average home gardener. 

Raised garden bed myths and misconceptions

Vego Metal Raised Garden Beds
Vego Metal Raised Garden Beds

There are some myths and misconceptions regarding raised garden beds floating around the Internet. Earlier renditions of raised beds may have proven defective, but advancements in materials and scope have exceeded the expectations of even the most exacting gardener. 

  • Raised beds are expensive: Raised beds, especially metal beds, can set you back several hundred dollars. However, with rising competition and increased demand, raised garden beds are becoming more and more affordable. In fact, Vego Garden even has a Green Pen Program that allows writers passionate about gardening to contribute in exchange for gift cards.
  • Raised beds are difficult to build: Online diagrams on raised bed assemblage often appear arcane to the DIY impaired gardener. Vego’s classic garden beds come prepared with all the bolts and screws and can be assembled within an hour – some at-home planters require no effort at all. Choose between endless configurations, novel features, and useful add-ons for a precise, hassle-free experience.  
  • Raised beds will disintegrate: Like shabbily-built stilt houses, the structure of badly-built raised beds will disintegrate, the wood fibers besieged by termites and other malicious maladies. While raised beds made from wood are susceptible to rot, galvanized steel beds can last two to three times longer – well over a decade without rusting. And some types of wood beds, including cedar and redwood, will last up to ten years before they’ll need to be replaced. 

Ultimately, the choice lies with the gardener, but whatever the choice is, comfort, happiness, and productivity should be the most important factors. 



  • Charles Newman

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  • Charles Newman

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  • Charles Newman

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