Raised Garden Beds Vs in Ground Beds Comparison

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

raised garden beds vs in ground beds

Are you building your first garden? Do you have trouble deciding between raised garden beds vs in ground beds?

In general, raised beds are used when the soil quality is not high enough for planting. Meanwhile, in-ground ones suit areas where the natural soil is healthy enough to support vegetation.

Learn more about these structures below.

Raised Beds Vs in Ground Ones Comparison


1. What are raised-garden beds and in-ground beds?

It’s easy to tell two types of garden beds apart.

  • Raised beds are boxes that are often elevated above the ground. They typically don’t use the naturally available soil in their surrounding environment; instead, these structures are filled with store-bought material for better soil texture and composition.
  • On the other hand, in in-ground beds, plants are inserted directly into the earth and nurtured by the existing soil. There are no containers made of wood or masonry like raised beds.

2. Pros and cons of in-ground garden vs raised beds

To understand the advantages and disadvantages of these two structures, we’ll compare them using several criteria.

  • Ergonomics

If you have knee or hip problems, raised beds are the better choice, as they are higher than in-ground ones and require less bending.

  • Pest management

Burrowing pests like moles and gophers are easier to ward off if you use raised beds. You can line the soil of these plant boxes with chicken wire or hardware cloth. In addition, if raised beds have solid bottoms, these parts can serve as an extra pest deterrent. Read more about this article to know what should you put on the bottom of a raised garden bed.

Meanwhile, in-ground gardens are more vulnerable to digging animals, and keeping these creatures out of such structures will take more effort.

One method is building a fence that extends one foot into the ground, with each side of the barrier-forming an L-shape at the bottom. Obviously, this takes a lot of physical effort and time, especially if your garden is enormous.

On the bright side, people can use mesh netting to protect in-ground beds against birds, insects, and squirrels. This is one similarity raised beds, and in-ground beds share. The former just comes with the additional benefit of being too tall for some animals to reach.

  • Weed management

Weed management is one area where the difference between in-ground vs raised bed soil matters.

Because raised beds often use store-bought soil with high-quality control, they start with no weeds. In contrast, no matter how much weed picking and mulching one does for in-ground gardens, humans are prone to errors, and the soil of these structures tends to have more weed seeds.

The soil in raised beds also has less compaction, ensuring more air pockets and better water flow to discourage weed growth. Plus, there is spacing between these plant boxes where people can walk, so compaction is further avoided.

  • Appearance

In-ground gardens are more diverse in terms of shapes than raised beds. The latter are mostly limited to squares or rectangles, which can look boring to some people. However, elevated plant boxes have the advantage of being tidier.

  • Placement

Unlike in-ground gardens, raised beds can be put anywhere in your home since you’re not limited to using local soil for them. Just make sure the placement area has adequate sunlight and drainage.

On the downside, raised beds are much more challenging to change and move once established. This issue does not apply to in-ground structures, considering there’s no plant box to take care of.

  • Cost

One of the most significant benefits of in-ground gardens is their cost. You don’t have to buy wood or masonry to build them, and less money is spent on purchasing soil.

Of course, one may reduce the expense of raised beds by combining local soil with store-bought soil, but this is impossible in areas where the earth is too unsupportive of plant growth.

Repairing and replacing garden boxes (precisely, their stone or wood material) makes these structures even more expensive.

  • Watering

Raised beds improve soil quality in areas with clay or rocky ground, thereby allowing for better drainage. However, better drainage also means raised beds release moisture more quickly than in-ground gardens, requiring more watering.

  • Setup & insulation

It takes less work to set up in-ground beds. You don’t have to measure and cut lumber or hire professionals to do these tasks. If the location of your in-ground garden is flat, tilling the soil is also very easy.

That said, raised beds are better if you want to start planting earlier. After winter, these structures will warm up a lot faster than in-ground gardens, so people can begin sowing seeds in early spring.

On the flip side, raised beds to have poor insulation, so more work is necessary to protect vegetation against the cold.

  • Plant types

Finally, although plant boxes can facilitate gardening on unfavorable land, they’re not capable of accommodating all vegetation.

Species such as corn, broccoli, and melons are too large for raised beds. In addition, blueberries, raspberries, and potatoes should be planted in-ground.

Are Raised Garden Beds Better?


They’re not always better than in-ground beds. Which type you choose depends on your preferences. Aside from the above considerations, keep these factors in mind when choosing between raised and in-ground beds:

  • Invasive plants – Garden boxes are naturally better at isolating invasive
  • Housing – If you live in an apartment, you likely won’t be able to dig into the ground for planting. In this case, patio-raised beds may be the only way you can implement your gardening ideas.
  • Waste – Are you conscientious about the amount of waste you produce? Elevated plant containers will conserve mulch and soil amendments.
  • Land leasing – If you rent out space for gardening, the structure of raised beds will separate your yard from another person’s, so there’s less arguing over encroachment.


We hope you now know the differences between raised garden beds vs in ground beds. No matter which type you choose, you can create a beautiful yard with thriving plants, as long as other conditions like suitable irrigation, soil quality, and weed management are met.

Related articles about the raised garden bed if you need:

Do you have any inexpensive raised garden bed ideas or in-ground bed designs you like to share? We’d love to hear them. Thank you for reading.

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