Best Guidance to Improve Drainage in Your Raised Beds

6 Min Read

Drainage material, as we all know, lets water flow away rather than collect. An elevated garden bed functions similarly to a single, enormous pot plant. If the bed lacks drainage, intense or persistent rains can turn it into an anaerobic environment, which is extremely difficult for plant roots to breathe.

We’ll discuss installing raised beds here to improve your garden’s drainage capabilities. After discussing the significance of drainage, we’ll look at how to create a raised bed garden that is both healthy and well-drained.

Why Is Drainage Important?


In your garden, adequate drainage is necessary for healthy root development. There is enough soil aeration in conjunction with effective drainage. This allows more nutrients and bacteria to circulate through the soil and gives plant roots more room to grow.

Proper drainage allows your soil to retain more moisture and nutrients, which your plants can use for longer. Another benefit of having proper drainage is the ability to gather and direct runoff. Being able to conserve water usually means that dry spells won’t harm you.

What Causes Poor Drainage in Gardens?

Causes Poor Drainage.jpg

The garden’s drainage capacity is mostly dependent on the sort of soil you’re working with. High-clay soils tend to hold water. In this instance, make adjustments with components that will hold water and promote the growth of healthy plants. In both too-wet and insufficiently-wet soils, raised beds help with inadequate drainage.

While certain plants need a lot of water to grow robust and healthy, others only need a small amount. One of the primary reasons for dead plants is an excess of water. In certain situations, too little water might have the same effect as too much.

How to Test Drainage

Causes Poor Drainage.jpg

It is preferable to determine your soil’s capacity for drainage before constructing raised beds rather than waiting until the beds are filled. It’s simple to test your soil. In a specified section of the garden, dig a 10-inch-deep hole.

Once the water is poured in, let it seep into the earth. Then pour extra water into the hole. The very poor drainage in the soil makes it unsuitable for most plants if the water is still present after ten or so hours.

Building Raised Beds for Improved Drainage

Building Raised Beds.jpg

The most widely used technique for providing plants with proper drainage is the creation of raised bed gardens. A frame to hold soil and raise the plant above the ground is all that makes up an elevated bed.

The loose soil allows roots to spread out easily, while drainage prevents them from decomposing. After a few irrigations, you might need to top-dress your plants with additional soil to compensate for settling. An elevated bed garden requires some work to maintain, but the rewards are well worth the effort.

How to Get Your Garden Ready for Raised Beds

Ready Raised Beds.jpg

Grassy spaces make matters worse. When filling a Birdie’s bed, place a layer of gravel between 1/4 and 1/2 inch beneath the mattress. In addition to providing superior drainage, this also shields the bed’s underside.

Although levelling your beds is not necessary, it can greatly aid in drainage and moisture retention. Level your bed as necessary using the dirt that is already there, pebbles, or even sand spread over the weed barrier.

Filling Your Raised Beds

Filling Raised Beds.jpg

Hugelkultur builds its soil on top of a layer of giant logs, with smaller branches and sticks layered on top and compost and leaves filling in the spaces.

Beneficial microbes and fungi cultivate the wood as the wood decomposes, and you have to constantly replenish the soil. The soil in your bed will settle around 6 inches during the first season, so keep that in mind.

This is a more expensive option than using locally sourced branches, sticks, and leaves for raised garden beds, but it is still doable, and you won’t need to replenish your bed as frequently at the end of the season as you would with a huge or sheet mulching fill.

Improving Drainage in Raised Beds

We have just tested the soil in your raised bed. We have just tested the soil in your raised bed. What steps should you take if it doesn’t drain properly? There are numerous methods for improving the drainage in your beds. Before adding anything, test your soil to make sure you are not adding too much.

Additive Methods

Additive Methods.jpg

Compost can help the soil in your bed have a better structure. This gives the soil some nutrients and somewhat acidifies the most basic soils. In addition to protecting exposed topsoil, compost aids in moisture retention.

If you are growing a variety of plants, some of which may require less acidic soil, try not to apply too much at once. Mulching the area surrounding your plants is an extremely easy way to increase drainage in your beds. This helps the soil retain moisture and strengthen its structure as it decomposes.

Sheet Mulching

Sheet Mulching.jpg

An intriguing extra way to improve drainage in your raised bed is to spread mulch directly on top of the soil. Of course, to get ready for the growing season, this is best done right before you plant in your bed or in between plantings.

It will take at least a few months for the mulch and compost to break down. Keep it moist and plant indoors when this period has passed.



The best way to till and aerate the soil in between planting seasons and plants is to use a hand tiller. If your hand tiller isn’t able to break through the surface of the soil, you can try using a broad fork or other more powerful tool.

With the broad fork in hand, carefully remove it from the earth. Verify that you are not damaging the established roots of the plants in your bed. After aerating the soil, you can apply amendments if needed.

No-Till Gardening

No-Till Gardening.jpg

It might be on the minds of some whether using until is preferable or not. If there are already enough air gaps in your soil, you can plant without using a soil tiller.

Plant tops can be removed for composting or dropped as mulch at the end of the season, leaving the roots in the raised bed to improve drainage. The roots provide oxygen to the soil. Pulling plants up by their roots too frequently might damage the soil’s structure.

Cover Cropping

Cover Cropping.jpg

When planted in cooler months, cover crops in raised beds help prevent erosion of the topsoil. They also add mulch, aeration, and nutrients to the soil as you chop and drop your harvest. The cover crop feeds beneficial fungi and microorganisms that improve the overall health of the soil while it grows in the ground.

Because the soil temperature is more successfully regulated, weeds are prevented from growing. Remember to cut the cover crops when they are between 50 and 80 percent in bloom. By doing this, you will prevent the germination of discarded flower seeds.


Plants with poor drainage are more vulnerable to rot, pests, and fungal diseases, among other negative consequences. If you have poor-quality soil in your yard, raised garden beds may help with drainage. Based on their requirements, you may determine how much watering each of your plants requires.

Leave a Comment

Discover more from Econut Plants

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading