QUESTION: – Can you grow a raised bed garden on a slope? Our back yard is on a fairly steep incline and I’m not sure how to approach it. – William R.
ANSWER: – Building a raised bed on a sloped terrain is a bit more challenging and complex than building a raised bed on a flat surface, however, it is certainly possible, and can be done rather easily if you know a few tricks of the trade. So, the simple answer is yes, you can build raised beds on a sloping surface. But to more fully answer your question, we will give you a few examples of different ways to build a raised bed on a slope, some suggestions to help you avoid common mistakes, and some links to more in-depth walkthroughs, and video tutorials.
Raised bed gardening comes with so many benefits that it is in your best interest to build as many raised beds on your property as possible, even if much of your property is sloped. The landscape on your property may be flush with slopes at very steep grades. Many properties are simply a plot of land on a hillside, which require reinforcement to prevent flooding and erosion of the beds. Reinforcement can be provided by retaining walls and reinforcement fencing. Raised beds on steep hillsides can even be built into retaining walls themselves, but you will have to dig out the side of the hill in order to create stepped level surfaces. Terraced gardens are also an option for landscapes with steep slopes.
However, the best way to build raised beds is as individual beds in flat areas, or in areas that are slightly sloped. Raised beds need to be even for a variety of reasons. Uneven beds will absorb water differently, as water has a tendency to cascade down slopes, pooling at the bottom. Therefore, watering will provide uneven amounts of water to different spots in the bed, and the part of the bed at the top of the slope will dry out while the part of the bed at the bottom of the slope remains moist. As the water flows downward, it will carry the nutrients and fertilizers with it as well, so the soil at the base of the slope will be far more nutrient rich than the soil at the top of the slope.
Uneven beds are also subject to soil erosion, and will need extra compost and organic matter mixed in regularly to offset the nutrient depletion. A level surface area is also much easier to garden in, so make sure that your raised beds are leveled off, even when they are built on uneven surfaces.
If you build your raised beds out of galvanized steel, you will be able to use your raised beds for much longer than if you build out of wood, as steel will hold up when buried beneath moist soil for much longer than wood will. Depending on the wood you use, however, wooden beds can still hold up for 5-7 years before needing to be rebuilt. Galvanized steel and wood are by no means the only materials that you can use to create your raised beds, as they are often built out of stones, or concrete cinder blocks as well, both of which hold up well to moisture, and the elements.
No matter what materials you use, however, creating beds on a sloped landscape will be more of a custom job than anything you might be able to purchase and assemble right out of the box. But you can make alterations and adjustments to raised bed assembly kits to work with sloped landscapes as well.
For a visual tutorial on how to build a raised bed on a gentle slope, check out this YouTube tutorial:
For a visual walkthrough on how to build a raised bed on a slope with an intermediate grade, take a look at this YouTube walkthrough:
For a video tutorial on how to build a raised bed on a hillside or an area with a steep slope, check out this YouTube tutorial:
For a step-by-stop written guide, check out How to Build a Raised Bed Garden on Sloping, Uneven Ground by EarthEasy:
For specifics on steep or shallow grade slopes as well as terraced gardens, check out Raised Bed on a Slope: How to Do It Right by Epic Gardening: