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Does My Garden Need to Be Level?

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As most beginner gardeners know, it’s not always easy. Most gardeners have to go through several rounds of failure before hitting stride with their fruits, herbs, and vegetables.

garden with flowers and vegetables

I remember the first few times I tried to plant something. Round after round of tomato seeds went into the soil, but nothing ever came up.

After a while, I decided to try watermelons. After weeks of careful watering and appropriate sunlight, finally there was growth.

Then, one day, I spotted a tiny watermelon. I did the best I could to care for it, but eventually, it split once it was the size of a baseball.

The moral of the story is that gardening is hard. It takes getting a lot of things right to see the kind of results you want.

One of the most important things you can do to ensure success is to make sure the conditions for a flourishing garden are in place before you start. That means the right kind of soil, access to sunlight, and a level patch of ground.

While it’s certainly possible to grow things in a sloped garden, a level garden will inevitably yield better results. It also looks better and is easier to manage.

Let’s take a look at why having a level garden is so important and talk about some ways you can create a level garden when you’re starting.

level ruler on wooden frame with plants in the background

Why Leveling Your Garden Is So Important

A successful garden needs a good foundation.

One of the most important parts of gardening is water management. Your garden needs enough water to thrive but too much water will drown whatever you are growing.

In a level garden, it’s much easier to manage the nutrients that go into your plants. You can see how much sunlight each vegetable is getting and make sure watering is done evenly.

In a sloped garden, there is an uneven distribution of nutrients. You also are likely to experience more soil erosion that could leave your plant without access to what they need to grow well.

Your topsoil is where most of your garden’s nutrients are, and if it’s on a slope, it’s easier for it to be washed away by rain or a hose or blown away by the wind.

Then you could end up with a nutrient deficiency, which makes it harder to grow things.

topsoil with plants growing on top of it

There are also similar amounts of soil across the entire garden, so you can guarantee that no herb or plant is getting shortchanged.

The Impact of Rainwater on a Sloped Garden

Gardeners around the world count on rainwater to help trigger plant growth and supplement their efforts in the garden.

Rain needs to break through the top layers of soil to get down toward the roots of your plants where they can absorb much-needed moisture.

With a level garden, rainwater can hit your plants and the soil evenly.

There’s also less runoff that washes away critical nutrients your garden needs to grow. Indeed, too much runoff will stop your garden from growing altogether.

Raised Garden Beds: A Simple Solution

If you’ve got a sloped yard or plot of land, then you may think that you need some major landscaping to level things off.

If you’re inclined to do that, it’s one way of going about it, but that’s a major project that a lot of people don’t have the money, time, or bandwidth for.

Instead, explore the possibility of raised garden beds. You can either build your own or buy a raised garden kit online at one of several retailers.

raised bed gardens on a cascade hill slope

You can choose from a variety of different styles, and most of them are pretty easy to set up. Some require screws and other tools, but some also click into place. There’s a wide range of choices.

These days, it’s easy to build raised garden beds.

You can even use your phone as a level. They make achieving level ground for your garden possible without making major changes to your property.

The Basics of Raised Garden Beds

If you’re handy at home and want to try to build your own raised garden beds, then there are a few things you should be aware of that will help.

Here are some tips to follow to make sure you get the best results.

Use Rot-Resistant Wood – While the wood that you use for your garden won’t matter a huge deal, all you need to do is stay away from wood that will rot easily.

Wood will give your garden a lovely, rustic look and will last for years. A lot of seasoned gardeners go with cedar because it prevents rot and stays stronger for longer.

Line the Bottom of Your Garden Bed – When your boards and corners are all in place, you need to think about what to line your garden bed with at the bottom.

Many people like to use wire mesh because it’s affordable and easy to install.

The wire mesh prevents too much soil movement but still gives your soil a bit of room to breathe.

It also stops too many weeds from growing and will prevent small critters from digging up into your garden.

pinterest pin - does your garden need to be level

Use a staple gun to attach the wire mesh to the bottom of your raised garden bed.

Line the Edges – Most gardening stores will sell what’s called landscape fabric that’s designed for raised garden bed lining.

You’ll want to use this type of lining as opposed to anything non-porous because there needs to be room to breathe.

Non-porous materials will trap too much moisture in the soil and drown your plants.

Give Each Bed Some Space – Each garden with raised beds can be different from the next, especially if you’re customizing them yourself.

However, one thing you should always keep in mind is to give them some space to make walking in between the beds easy. You’ll need proper access to all sides of the raised beds to give them the right amount of attention.

These are just a few things to keep in mind when you set out to make your garden level. Creating the right environment for your plants is step one in a successful gardening journey.

Leveling eliminates many of the problems that could derail your garden. Good luck!

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