Pros and Cons of Metal and Wood Raised Garden Beds

Spread the love
  • Opens in a new tab.

Among several Raised Garden Beds, the Metal Bed type has always been more favored by gardeners.

The Metal Raised Garden Bed is more favoured by gardeners as it’s easier to set up, more durable, and is appealing to the eye. However, it has drawbacks: it’s costly, heats up quickly, and might cause an injury. Read more About Metal and Wood benefits in detail below.

Wooden Garden Bed

The Pros and Cons to Be Considered Before Opting to Use Metal- Raised Garden Beds.  

What Are Raised Garden Beds?

Raised Garden Beds are also known as planter boxes and garden boxes. They are boxes or containers filled with soil in which plants are grown. They are mainly constructed out of wood, metal, cement, bricks, and other materials. 

Raised Garden Beds Vs In-Ground Beds

Both types of garden beds have the same goal: grow plants. Nonetheless, one type may have certain advantages that the other do not have and vice versa.

They can be put to good use growing either fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and even shrubs. The growth of veggies and herbs seems most popular. However, flowers or fruits also look appealing.

In this section, you will get to know the upsides and downsides of Raised Garden Beds compared to in-ground beds.

It is essential to know the basics of Raised Garden Beds before using them for your garden. 

Upsides or Pros of Raised Garden Beds  

  • Have better soil quality
  • Give You More Control Over Pests
  • Have Lesser Weeds
  • Are More Convenient

 Better soil quality:

Because you control the type of soil, you use for your raised beds. You can pick the best ones for your plants, thus, ensuring better soil quality and productivity. 

In-ground beds do not have this advantage since you are left with the soil type your garden has. You are fortunate if you have rich organic soil in your yard, but it is not always the case for many gardeners.

Most of the time, native soil in our yard is not ideal for gardening because aside from being silty, it may also be contaminated. 

The average depth for a raised garden bed is one foot. Of course, the depth depends on the plants you wish to grow.

Large and tall plants may need deeper beds (20-25 inches) such as crops like tomatoes and eggplants.

More Control Over Pests:

There will be fewer pests since Raised Garden Beds are literally raised from the ground. You can use netted covers for your raised beds to keep pests from entering.

The usual pests in gardens include snails, slugs, and rabbits which will try to climb the plant box and eat your plants. 

Now, in-ground beds can also use net covers to keep away some pests. So, what is the difference?

The true advantage of Raised Garden Beds in this scenario is that it blocks off burrowing pests. 

With in-ground beds, burrowing pests like gophers, voles, and moles can easily burrow through the soil and eat the plants once they surface. In this context, net covers are useless.

On the other hand, in a raised garden box, the bottom structure also protects against burrowing pests, hence, more advantageous than in-ground beds. 

In Raised Garden Beds, you can also create a fence made from wires or cloth to keep animals like chickens and dogs from destroying your raised beds.

If you do not want to go through the hassle, you can make your box tall enough from the reach of certain animals. 

Lesser Weeds

With raised beds, weeds are less likely to creep in your box. To maximize this, you can line the bottom bed with a cardboard box or fabric to prevent grasses and weeds from growing. 

Convenient

The convenience offered by Raised Garden Beds is probably the most favorite advantage of many gardeners.

It is convenient in that maintaining the garden becomes more manageable since they do not have to kneel and bend to the ground for long periods of time, unlike in-ground gardens. 

Downsides or Cons of Raised Garden Beds

  • Are More Expensive.
  • Take a Lot of Effort.

Expensive

Regardless of the materials, you use for your raised beds, it will still always cost you more financially than with an in-ground garden.

The cost comes from the materials you are going to use for your box, the soil which you are most likely going to purchase, and other materials such as lining for the bottom bed and net covers. 

It Takes a Lot of Effort

Building a raised garden bed will require a lot of effort on your part, both physically and intellectually.

You must know basic calculations to get your desired raised beds and, at the same time, physical strength to assemble or construct them. 

Raised Beds Growing Vegetables
Raised Beds Growing Vegetables

Pros and Cons of Metal Raised Garden Beds

After understanding the advantages and disadvantages of Raised Garden Beds over in-ground beds, let us now go over the pros and cons of Metal Raised Garden Beds. 

Metal Raised Garden Beds – The Pros

Easy To Set Up 

Metal Raised Garden Beds are the quickest to set up among all types of raised beds. You only must assemble the parts and form them into a rectangular shape. 

Durable

The metal type is more durable than wood beds because the latter can quickly rot from the watering over time.

The best metal to use for these metal beds is galvanized steel, as it doesn’t rust as much when exposed to water compared to other metals. 

Unique Industrial Style 

Metal raised beds generally send out industrial vibes, which doesn’t happen in the usual traditional gardens you so often see. This different kind of aesthetic is what gardeners also consider in choosing metal beds. 

Metal Raised Garden Beds – The Cons

Expensive 

Raised Garden Beds are generally expensive, but you would have to spend more money with a metal bed since it is the most expensive type among raised beds.

Not only is the material expensive, but also the customization for the cutting and the transportation. 

Heats Up Quickly 

Most metals heat up fast, which can severely damage your plants.

Once again, galvanized metal is the ideal material since it is a reflective metal that does not absorb heat that much.

Be sure to pick the suitable metal to avoid burning your plants.

Raised Garden Beds are permanent, so you cannot just move them anywhere you want, like a potted plant away from the sun.

In using metal raised beds, make sure not to grow heat-sensitive plants as they most likely would not survive the heat.  

Might Cause Injury 

Metals are sharp and using them for your raised bed can potentially harm or injure you. Make sure to check your garden bed now and then to watch out and fix the sharp edges that might be sticking out. 

A Friendly Warning

Hordes of people ask if they should put rocks in the bottom of their raised garden bed – and even more just go ahead and do it.

They are convinced that this is a clever trick to get the plants to grow better.

Please dodge that bullet and do not place rocks or gravel at the bottom of your Raised Garden beds.

In fact, while we’re talking about this, please don’t put them at the bottom of any of your planters or containers.

The reason for this is because that rock layer you placed and buried, will trap water beneath the soil and cause problems with fungal growths -not to mention that root rot is more likely to set in!

So, keep your plants safe and forget the rocks and gravel!

Before You Decide 

Before moving on to Final Thoughts lets pause for a moment looking at wooden Raised Garden Beds. They are considerably cheaper and, if you use Redwood or Cedar they will last for a very long time and not give in to root rot for about twenty years.

Advantages of Using Wood 

A much lower price, it’s easier for customizability and for its global availability. It also boasts some of the finest thermal properties of all raised bed materials.

By far, Wood is the cheapest material you can use of all the raised bed materials. Think about it, wood can be salvaged for free from wood pallets and even old furniture. It goes without saying that you can source your own wood from a forested woodlot.

However, most gardeners, you will search for their lumber in the local hardware store.  But also, pine is very affordable to build large, raised bed gardens.

Wood raised garden beds are more easily customised into almost the exact shape you want them. Galvanized steel beds, while they can come in different sizes, are still limited in size and shape.

An unsung benefit is how great wood is as an insulator. Something that Galvanised steel can’t do. So, wood is good for winter gardening.

Choosing the Best Materials for Raised Garden Beds

As you probably know, raised garden beds can be made with a number of different materials, but figuring out which ones to use can be tricky.

You need to be sure they will be effective and endure the wear and tear of harsh weather so that they can last as long as possible.

Data on the best and lasting garden bed materials – and how to pick the right ones for raised gardens, are below – and so is the debate of wood vs. metal. This article will teach you everything you need to know about raised garden bed materials.

Wood

Wood can be very good for raised garden beds, but it can also be wrong.

Things like treated lumber and pallets should not be used for garden beds. This is because they have strong chemicals on them.

Although these chemicals may make the wood last longer, they can also get into the soil and ruin the plants you are growing.

It is good to use untreated lumber or other wood like cedar and redwood. Both will break down over time. The untreated wood lasts about 3 years and cedar or redwood lasts anywhere from 5-12 years.

Though they break down, they are great options that will look rustic in the garden, and keep out a lot of harmful bugs, rot, and moisture.

Metal

Metal garden beds will give a more modern look to your garden, and they require less upkeep than wood.

Some people may worry about rust on metal garden beds, but if you use galvanized metal it shouldn’t be a problem as this will deter any rust growth.

You might also be concerned that the soil will get too hot because of how metal absorbs heat, but this isn’t really an issue.

Damp soil does a good job remaining cool even when it’s next to hot metal.

Metal garden beds are very durable and you won’t have to deal with much upkeep on them.

Generally, metal garden beds will last for about 30 years because of how resilient they are in different weather conditions.

They are a more expensive option, but can definitely be worth the extra money.

How Do I Choose the Best Material for My Raised Garden Beds?

When choosing your garden bed material, it’s important to consider cost as well as effectiveness and longevity.

Untreated wood is a good cheap option if you are looking to start out your garden beds now and improve them over time, or if you only think you’ll be using these beds for a few years.

If you are looking for something that will last a little longer but still want that rustic look, cedar or redwood is a great option for your garden beds.

They will do a good job maintaining healthy soil and will last longer than untreated wood. However, they will still break down over time.

If you have the money and are looking for something very durable, metal will be your best bet.

Welcome to Green Garden Tribe
Welcome to Green Garden Tribe

It’s going to maintain healthy soil just like the wooden garden beds would, but it will last for a lot longer and require less upkeep.

In the end it is up to you, but if you’re willing to spend the extra for longevity then metal is going to be the best choice.

Final Thoughts on Pros and Cons of Metal and Wood Raised Garden Beds

These days, Raised Garden Beds are popular because they offer substantial advantages that the usual in-ground garden cannot give.

Through these beds, you can ensure top-notch soil quality that is also pest-free and weedless.

Most importantly, raised beds are gardener-friendly in the sense that sowing, planting, and harvesting are more straightforward and convenient for all gardeners, even those who have physical disabilities. 

Overall, Metal Raised Garden Beds are worth considering, given that many gardeners prefer them over other materials like wood.

Remember that the ideal metal to use is galvanized steel so that it does not absorb much heat that can potentially burn plant roots and does not rot easily when exposed to water. 

The cons of Metal Raised Garden Beds are only minor matters that can easily be fixed.

(On a Personal Note: All in all, metal beds are highly recommended for all gardeners out there. 

However, so are wooden beds. We got to thinking and wondered that when that cedar gives out at the end of a 20 years’ stint, we would be ready for some new ‘out of the world’ gardening ideas.

We would want to try them and stay up with the new trends – heck, we might not even wait the 20 years! We will surely want to try them instead of being stuck to the bitter end with the metal beds.

We think this gives wood an edge over metal. But it’s your garden, so you must decide!)

Edit and Footnote

Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

Recent Posts