How to Fill and Plant in a Raised Garden Bed

How to Fill and Plant in a Raised Garden Bed

Feb 23rd 2024

Once you have built your raised garden beds, the next crucial task is filling the bed with a healthy soil mix before planting for a successful harvest. Raised bed gardening offers both plants and gardeners significant benefits, making vegetable gardening enjoyable and more accessible. Growing veggies, herbs, or flowers in raised garden beds allows you to create an ideal environment for your plant. You can build multiple beds with different soils to help each plant flourish. However, it is essential to ensure the content of your raised bed is of good quality for plants to survive and thrive.

In this guide, our gardening experts share the complete process of how to fill your raised beds, prepare them for planting, and what to plant in raised beds. Let's get started.

How to Fill a Raised Bed

There are multiple ways to layer the raised bed soil. You should consider your options carefully before adding the soil. Make sure to use raised bed mix or high-quality organic matter soil mix, not only topsoil. The first option is to fill the bed completely with high-quality soil. This option is recommended for small beds, 6-12 inches deep.

For deeper beds, adding other healthy materials and soil to take up space in the garden bed is best. Here is how to fill your raised bed with organic matter and healthy soil mix to create a bountiful garden.

Prepare Your Raised Bed

A good foundation for your raised bed is essential for a good start to your raised gardening project. First, prepare the area of your raised bed and make sure the area is level. If you are setting up your bed on grass, the grass under the base of the raised bed should be dead and removed before filling the bed. If your raised bed has no bottom, you can add a weed barrier cloth to smother weeds and prevent your soil from washing nutrients out of your bed with the first rain.

Add a Layer of Logs and Wood Debris

Add a layer of wood debris, logs, and sticks on the bottom of your bed. Wood debris is an excellent source of organic matter because it gradually breaks down. Use dead tree branches or logs from wood piles. This organic matter decomposes over time and provides the essential nutrients to plant roots.

Add a Layer of Organic Soil and Compost

This is the thickest layer of your raised bed. Add a combination of organic compost and premium soil. You can add well-rotted manure, grass clippings, food scraps, and leaf mold to boost the nutrient level further.

Note: Using old ground soil from your existing garden is not recommended because it can cause problems like poor growth, water logging, or weeds. Use 100% natural, organic, or premium soil mix. The best soil for raised beds is one that is rich in organic matter.

Water the Soil

Water the soil with quality drip irrigation products. For small to medium size beds a DripWorks Garden Bed Kit Small will provide the necessary components to water your bed while conserving water.

Start Planting

Now that your raised bed is filled, it's time to plan and plant! Think of the vegetables or flowers that you want to plant in your raised bed, find a local nursery or garden center where you can find the plants for your garden.

What to Plant in Raised Beds

The exciting thing about raised beds is that you can grow almost anything in a raised bed that can be grown on the ground if the growing conditions are suitable for your plants. Planting in a raised bed is the same as planting in ground soil. You just need to consider the bed's depth and the crops' size.

If your bed is only 6" tall, you should avoid planting crops with deep tap roots. Additionally, if your bed is only 2x2, you can only fit one Brussels sprout plant in this size. Make sure to plan the spacing in the raised bed according to your plant’s needs, so that you give your plant enough space to grow.

The Best Fruits and Vegetables for Your Raised Bed

Here is a list of our favorite plants that thrive in raised beds.


Tomatoes are a striking and delicious addition to your raised bed. Although tomatoes are technically a fruit, they are widely considered a vegetable. Tomatoes thrive in the warm soil of raised beds. They stretch their roots deep into the bed's loose soil. You can add tomato cages to support the tomato plants, as they can grow quite tall. Sow tomato seeds in early spring and enjoy the harvest in mid-summer.

Leafy Greens

You can grow a variety of leafy greens, including lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, swiss chard, purple mustard, and more in your raised bed. They are easy to plant and will provide many nutritious and delicious leaves for regular salads and smoothies. Also, their harvesting will be much easier as you do not have to bend over.

Melons, Squash, and Cucumbers

Melons, squash, and cucumbers are perfect to grow in raised beds. Warm, nutrient-rich, and pH-balanced soil in a raised bed that provides enough drainage is the ideal growing medium for these crops.

Peppers and Eggplants

Eggplants and peppers will do great in raised garden beds. They love the warm soil of raised beds. These plants require plenty of water, so remember to quench their thirst. You can more easily meet these abundant producers' watering and nutrient needs with raised beds.

Root Crops

Root crops love loose and well-draining soil of raised beds. These conditions allow them to grow large, healthy taproots without encountering any challenges. Additionally, these crops grow quickly. If your raised bed is 8" taller or more, there is no limit to growing root crops in it. Some popular root crops that do well in raised beds are beets, radishes, carrots, potatoes, garlic, parsnips, and even onions.

Beyond these crops, other plants that grow well in raised beds include beans, strawberries, mint, celery, and zucchini.

The Best Flowers and Herbs for Your Raised Bed

Vegetables, herbs, and flowers grow incredibly well in raised garden beds. Many are excellent companions, attracting beneficial pollinators to your garden and protecting the veggies from garden pests. Herbs occupy a small space in your raised beds but will provide many delicious harvests. Try combining herbs and flowers in your raised bed gardening plan and fit them between your vegetable crops. They will look beautiful and charm with their lovely fragrance.

Here is a list of top herbs and flowers that grow best in raised beds.

  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Chives
  • Marigold
  • Oregano
  • Borage
  • Cilantro
  • Violas
  • Nasturtium

Add Companion Plants

When deciding on what to plant in your raised bed, it is important to find which are friends and which aren't. Companion planting will boost plant growth, enhance flavor, draw pollinators, and provide protection from harmful pests. Companion planting is pairing plants that are beneficial to each other together in the same bed.

For example, some tall plants can shade plants that thrive in shady conditions. Some plants draw pollinators to gardens. Some suggested pairings are thyme and strawberry plants, chives and carrots, lavender and fruit, and alliums and legumes. Nasturtiums, zinnias, sunflowers, and marigolds also help repel harmful insects.

The Bottom Line

Ready to start raised bed gardening? Assemble your garden beds, fill them with healthy soil, plant your favorite veggies or flowers, and enjoy the thriving garden in your backyard. You can shop for durable, weather-resistant, and attractive metal raised beds online with DripWorks.

Have any product queries or do you want to know more about raised beds? Reach out to our experts!