Expert-Approved Garden Bed Ideas to Up Your Growing Game

a wooden walkway in a garden
Expert-Approved Garden Bed IdeasNicola Stocken/House Beautiful - Hearst Owned

When the weather starts to warm up, odds are you get the itch to add life to your yard. There's no better way to amp up the color you've got or the produce you grow than a raised garden bed. Why? For starters, it's much easier to maintain than an in-ground garden. Raised garden beds don't require tilling up your yard to prep the soil, and you can adjust the height so you're not constantly bending over and killing your back or knees. "Taller raised beds are easier to tend to, which can be especially important for aging gardeners or those with limited mobility," Jonathan Paetzel, principal of Marshall Paetzel Landscape Architecture in Mattituck, New York, and a landscape designer with more than 25 years of experience, says. "Beds can even be designed with bench-like features to allow gardeners to sit on the edges while they tend to their plants."

Ease of use isn't the only benefit of raised garden beds either—they can be just as good for your plants as they are for you. Raised beds offer "improved drainage, air flow, and soil-quality customization," Kat Aul Cervoni, a landscape designer who founded the firm Staghorn NYC in 2014, tells us. "Because of this, raised beds are often preferred in herb and vegetable gardens where good, consistent drainage, ample air flow, and rich soil are necessary for successful crops."

Plus, since raised garden beds are their own thing, not part of a larger garden, you can plant your favorite flowers or vegetables slightly earlier. "The sun exposure to both the top and sides of the planter means that soil warms up more quickly than traditional in-ground planting beds, so gardeners can plant in them a bit earlier in the season," Cervoni explains. That means you get to enjoy what you grow sooner too.

Getting started with a raised garden bed is easy: You just need to find or build a container you like, fill it with the right soil, and get to planting. As for what to put inside, we've got all the inspiration you need below. Read on for 20 raised garden bed ideas you'll love. Don't want to get your hands dirty building something from scratch? Check out our guide to the best raised garden beds for indoor and outdoor plants.

Try a Triangular Raised Garden Bed

These DIY wooden planters by Australian home gardener and beekeeper Ashenden Burke add great dimension to a garden that's bursting with produce. If your plot is running out of room and can’t accommodate a bulky rectangular raised bed, try building one of these to conserve space and add interest.

a garden with a fence
Ashenden Burke

Go Galvanized

A galvanized trough makes an excellent instant raised garden bed. This idea by Jenn and Josh Choate, the husband-and-wife duo behind Down Shiloh Road, shows how rustic-elegant it can be; they got their sage green raised garden bed from Olle Gardens. A galvanized trough makes it easy to keep pests out too: "It’s a good idea to line the bottom of the bed with a galvanized hardware cloth to prevent tunneling animals such as voles from damaging plantings,” says Stacy Paetzel, founder of Marshall Paetzel Landscape Architecture.

a dog standing next to a planter outside a house
Jenn & Josh Choate

Tailor the Planter Height to What You Grow

The best height for a raised garden container depends on what you want to grow. A variety of produce might call for a variety of containers. "Deep-rooted vegetables like carrots require deep, fluffy soil to grow long and straight, whereas shallow-rooting plants like lettuces and strawberries can utilize lower beds," Stacy Paetzel explains. These low raised beds by landscape architect Janice Parker are perfect for flowers or delicate greens, and we love how the dark wood stands out against the light-colored gravel.

raised garden bed ideas
Neil Landino Jr; Design by Janice Parker

Choose Vining Plants

The building materials you use aren't the only element of a raised garden bed that add drama to your yard—the plants inside can too. The tendrils of vining plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and peas will begin drape over the sides for charming natural decor, as seen in this raised garden bed by landscape architect Janice Parker.

raised garden bed ideas
Neil Landino Jr; Design by Janice Parker

Build in Steps

We love a dramatic backyard, and mixing stone steps in with tiers of raised garden beds brings plenty of it to this landscape design.

raised garden bed ideas
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Spring for Stone

Speaking of stone, if you love the material but can't build something major like a staircase, use it on a smaller scale. Swapping out traditional wood or metal raised garden beds for stone dresses up your yard and makes the beds more durable.

raised garden bed ideas
Neil Landino Jr; Design by Janice Parker

Add Lighting

Enjoy the beautiful flowers in your raised garden beds long after the sun has gone down by hanging string lights overhead, as Texas-based master gardener Rhonda Kaiser of Southern Farm and Home did at her home. They make your garden the perfect spot to spend cocktail hour or host a small dinner party.

a garden with lights and plants
Rhonda Kaiser

Choose Colorful Planters

Metal planters bring style and function to any backyard, and they make great raised garden beds. "The material of the raised bed can be of aesthetic interest in the garden as well," says Jonathan Paetzel, who says that corten steel, stone, wood, brick, and salvaged materials are all good choices. We love how the sage green used in this garden design makes the greenery pop.

a deck with a stone wall and a garden
Courtesy of Metal Garden Beds

Raise a Window Box

How gorgeous is this window box filled with spring flowers? Massachusetts-based garden designer Susan Nock chose a white container to blend into the house and let the vibrant pink, purple, and yellow flowers steal the show.

a window with flowers in it
Susan Nock

Pick Up Sticks

The teepee-shaped trellises in this garden by Janice Parker are pretty and practical. They give climbing vines and flowers something to cling onto and cover, and once those plants come in, they'll turn these structures into adorable hideouts for kids. The rustic sticks complement the wooden raised garden beds and containers to keep the whole area looking cohesive.

a wooden structure with a rope attached to it
Courtesy of Janice Parker Landscape Architects

Make Your Own Meadow

This raised garden bed in a London backyard makes it feel like a full-on field. We love how it's rustic and even a little wild, from the weathered wood it's made of to the lush greenery inside. If you live in a city and don't have much of a yard (or any yard at all), adding a DIY raised garden bed to your back deck or patio is an excellent way to bring more nature into your daily life.

a wooden walkway in a garden
Nicola Stocken/House Beautiful - Hearst Owned

Raise a Greenhouse

We love this greenhouse with raised garden beds inspired woodworking DIYer extraordinaire Ana White's original plan. Whether you want to raise food or flowers, it allows you to control the growing environment in style and comfort.

Get the plan and tutorial at Ana White.

a wooden structure with plants growing in it
Ana White

Add an Arch

This adorable arch welcomes you into the garden area in Todd and Chyna Wilkins's backyard. The Canadian construction-and-renovation duo (aka @wainwrighthousetohome) built the raised beds after they didn't get much of a harvest from their original in-ground garden. For an elevated first impression, consider planting vining flowers or edible plants to cover your arch and up its charm.

a structure outside with plants around it
House To Home Improvements

Opt for a Bucket

Raised garden beds don't have to be big, rectangular boxes. Try different shapes and smaller planters, like this wooden bucket—just be sure there's sufficient drainage in the bottom to keep your plants happy. You can mix buckets in with your other garden beds or use them to add color to your porch, patio, yard, or deck.

raised garden bed ideas
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Try Square Foot Gardening

Planting lots of different vegetables? Divide and conquer the project with the help of some netting and a pro tactic is called square foot gardening. It means dividing your raised garden bed or other container into 1-square-foot segments and planting only one plant in each segment. That ensures each plant has plenty of room, sun, and nutrients to grow to its full potential.

raised garden bed ideas
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Surround a Shed

A shed needs some landscaping love to look like it belongs in your yard. Stone flower beds like these are the perfect solution. Stacey Paetzel recommends combining garden beds with other structures to make your yard more dynamic and visually interesting: "The layout of the beds helps define the garden's structure and can be combined with additional features such as potting benches, plant support trellises, fences, water features, storage sheds, and seating areas," she says. Here, the stone walls accentuate the blue of the shed, elevate the plantings to frame it, and generally make the whole corner look more magical.

raised garden bed ideas
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Mix the Materials

Can't decide between a wood or metal raised garden bed? Go with a version that uses both! Combining the two makes for a striking planter, plus they're some of the best materials for a raised bed. " As for the best type of wood, Stacey Paetzel suggests untreated cedar or locust: "We recommend using natural woods that haven't been treated with chemicals. Decay-resistant varieties such as cedar or locust will last at least 10 years."

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Work the Angles

Give your raised garden beds some personality by going with hexagonal ones like these instead of standard rectangles. Not only will they add visual appeal to your yard, but they also have wider sides that give you a little more growing room.

raised garden bed ideas
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Weave a Wooden Fence

If matching is your thing, edge your raised garden beds and in-ground beds in the same style fence. Here, wattle fencing—a type of woven wood fencing traditional in England for gardens and animal enclosures alike—forms a "basket" around each area. The materials couldn't be more sustainable, and it's a relatively easy DIY. Plus, it's cute in the most cottagecore way.

raised garden bed ideas
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Tier the Planters

Visual interest isn't just for interior decorating; it has a place outdoors, too! If you're setting up multiple raised garden beds out back, make each box a little taller than the one in front of it to add interest to the space. You can use the same tip for planters on your porch—varying the heights of your containers always looks good.

raised garden bed ideas
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