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4 Reasons Raised Garden Beds Need a Liner

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Raised garden beds come in handy if you are looking forward to reducing the amount of work required to grow your vegetables. Additionally, raised garden beds can also help, especially if you’re in a location with bad soil. 

If you are just getting started with raised garden beds, the chances are that you have a ton of questions about how you can make your first raised garden bed. For example, you are probably wondering if you should line your raised garden beds or not. 

Raised garden beds don’t really need a liner in order for the plants to grow well and be healthy. A raised garden bed liner is beneficial as it provides protection for the wood as well as a barrier between the wood and the plant to prevent potentially harmful chemicals from reaching the fruits and vegetables you are growing

empty raised bed

In this post, I will cover all possible questions you might have so that you can make your first and subsequent raised garden beds without making any mistakes. So let’s dive in. 

4 Reasons You Should Add a Liner to Your Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds are the best since sliced bread because they can serve nearly every homeowner. Whether you live in a small apartment in the city or just don’t have a place to grow your veggies, raised garden beds will come to your rescue. And as I said, raised garden beds also come in handy if you live in areas with poor soil conditions. 

In these situations, raised garden beds are essential if you are serious about getting the best out of your growing experience. And once you are done making your raised bed, you will need to include a liner.

The question on whether or not raised garden beds need a liner has become a big debate. That’s why it’s critical to look at some of the advantages of adding a liner. So without further ado, let’s cut to the chase. 

1. For the Insulation of Soil Against Extreme Temperatures 

One of the reasons why a raised garden bed needs a liner is that raised garden beds are quite vulnerable to temperature fluctuations. This is because the soil in a raised surface will either lose or gain heat faster than the soil on the ground. 

Including a liner after making your raised garden bed can help control the temperature fluctuations by holding heat from the sun. 

Also, this will help prevent the damage of plant roots caused by the cold experienced at night. If you like, you can also protect your leaves and stems by covering them with a cloche. 

Finally, if you reside in a place with extreme sunny conditions, adding a liner to your raised bed can prevent your soil from drying and cracking. 

2. Raised Bed Liners Drive Away Pests 

Pests like moles and gophers can damage your crops, and that’s why most homeowners will do anything to keep them away. Unfortunately, a raised garden bed with no liner will not help keep these pests away. 

But if you make sure that you have lined the sides and the bottom of your raised garden bed appropriately, you should never worry about these digging creatures because the liners will prevent them from digging. 

For persistent diggers, you need to keep in mind that just a light sheet of plastic will not help keep away pests. In these cases it would be best if you used an additional liner like a hardware cloth to prevent rodents from digging through your garden bed. 

3. Raised Bed Liners Help With Weed Prevention 

high raised bed

Weeds can be a nuisance to your garden, and as such, it would be best if you consider bed liners to help prevent unwanted plants. Bed liners come in handy for newly installed garden beds, which ensures that the weeds are separated from the seeds. Your seeds will, therefore, sprout and grow in the raised bed. 

Plastic or cloth liners are a good bet if you want to get rid of weeds completely. This is because plants can no longer survive in such conditions, but instead in soil.

Unfortunately, animals and winds can still affect pollination from the weeds into your raised bed. You don’t have to worry, though, because a bed liner will prevent the growth of unwanted plants in your yard. 

There are a variety of weed resistant bed liner options available. These can be great for the bottom of your raised garden bed. We’ll give you some ideas later in this post.

4. Raised Bed Liners Help with Soil Retention 

If your raised bed frame has gaps or holes, lining the sides will help to prevent soil erosion as well. And because you want your seeds to sprout well and eventually grow into healthy plants, you’d consider planting your seeds in soils rich in nutrients and organic materials.   

However, this is only possible if you line the bed sides, which helps in soil retention during rainy seasons or even watering. Lining the bottom of the bed with permeable landscape fabrics will allow excess water to seep into the ground but keep all of your good soil in the bed.

A cloth liner or any water-permeable materials comes in handy to enhance proper soil drainage and prevent overwatering. 

plastic raised bed liner

Can You Line Raised Beds With Plastic?

Plastic is the most commonly used material for a raised garden bed liner, but you need to make sure that you have a piece large enough to fit your garden bed.. 

Sadly, many plastics will hinder drainage if used as a raised garden bed liners because of their waterproof nature. Because of this, most raised garden beds will be lined with plastic only on the sides. This allows for the benefit of keeping moisture away from the sides of the bed as well as preventing any chemicals that might be in the wood used from reaching the soil.

Liners can still be used for the bottom of the raised garden bed but these are typically made from other materials and designed to act as more of a weed barrier. 

Do You Have to Line the Bottom of the Bed?

If your raised bed is fixed on the ground, a bottom liner isn’t absolutely necessary because the liner is typically  only meant for protection of soil from the wood and vice versa. 

If your raised bed is placed on top of otherwise healthy soil, and you aren’t worried about weeds or burrowing animals, a bottom liner may not be warranted.

If, on the other hand, your raised bed is placed on a flat non-porous surface like concrete or maybe even a wood deck, you’d want to include a wooden bottom that’s resistant to soil stains resulting from watering. In this case, just make sure that the base allows soil drainage. 

Most importantly, please refrain from using treated wood as bottoms, unless you are using a full plastic liner for the sides and base. Treated wood often contains toxic chemicals, which not only leach the soil but also are absorbed in the plants. 

Common Types of Raised Garden Bed Liners

If it comes to choosing the best-raised garden bed liners, you have a ton of options to choose from. All you need is to have your list of priorities to help you in selecting the right liner. So below are some of the options you might consider: 

  • Hardware cloth: Hardware cloths will help keep rodents away, but they will allow earthworms in. However, worms are not an enemy because they aid in soil aeration. Hardware cloth can also be used in combination with other bed liners when needed. 
  • Stainless steel gopher: Like hardware cloth, stainless steel gopher will help keep burrowing animals from your raised garden bed. 
  • Landscape fabric: If you have your raised garden bed in a place with unwanted plants (weeds), you’d want to consider landscape fabric. Landscape fabric will help in keeping away weeds from invading your garden bed.
  • Newspaper or cardboard: Even papers and cardboards come in handy to keep away weeds from reaching your plants in the seedbed. Before you set up your raised garden bed,  a simple fix to reduce weeds is to simply lay down either cardboard or a newspaper.
weed fabric

Can You Use Weed Fabric as a Raised Garden Bed Liner?

Weed fabric can be used as a raised garden bed liner; however, it’s not ideal for deep-rooted plants. 

For plants such as tomatoes, you’d consider a rooted raised bed to allow their roots to go deeper. Sadly, not all plants are shallow-rooted, and as such, you’d want to include layers of newspapers and cardboard to act as bed liners for your raised garden bed. This will help deep-rooted plants break to the bottom easily due to the smooth surface. 

Take Away 

Raised garden bed liners are essential and should be included in any raised garden bed. You don’t want to keep pests, and you also don’t want to entertain weeds that will struggle for nutrients with your plants. Honestly, it shouldn’t be a debate – you need a liner if you are using a raised garden bed.

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