The place to Put Raised Beds in Your Backyard: 7 Location Suggestions

After long admiring the beauty and benefits of raised bed gardening, you’ve officially caught the bug and are ready to install some in your own yard. Congratulations, and welcome to the obsession! We hope it brings you great joy and an endless bounty of happy, healthy plants.  

Since you’ve landed on this page, you’re probably still in the planning phase but already know how crucial location is to the success of your garden plants. It’s by far the most important decision you’ll make, and you want to get it right. 

The Best Location

To help you achieve your elevated garden goals and install the raised beds of your dreams, consider variables related to exposure, accessibility, and orientation before getting down and dirty. The healthiest, most high-yielding gardens will be sited in locations with these important attributes.

Full Sun

Raised wooden bed filled with plants illuminated by the radiant sun, casting shadows. In the background, more foliage bathes in the warm sunlight, creating a lush and serene atmosphere for the garden.Map hourly sunlight exposure to confirm at least six hours for your potential location.

Most herbs, vegetables, and flowering plants require full exposure. This means at least six unobstructed, unfiltered hours of direct sunlight per day. While the hours do not need to be sequential, they do need to total six. With anything less, ‘full sun’ plants are likely to be leggy, sluggish, less productive, and vulnerable to disease. 

Devote a day to mapping the exposure every hour in a potential location. Mark an X for every hour of the day that receives full sun, and make sure the total is at least six. Gardeners are often surprised by how little or how much exposure a spot in the garden actually gets, and this exercise is often eye-opening.

If a mature tree is throwing shade at a potential location, have an arborist out to assess the situation. Many species tolerate and benefit from thinning and pruning maintenance, which may free up an hour or two of sunshine for your garden. 

South of Tall Structures

A tall garden filled with rows of lush green plants, thriving under the sunlight. Wooden labels attached to each plant, neatly identifying their species or care instructions in the garden.Install trellises on the north side of beds to avoid shading low-growing plants.

Think about how the sun moves through the sky throughout the growing season and consider how changes in its trajectory might throw shadows at different times of the year. Locate your beds on the south side of tall structures such as home exteriors, garage walls, fences, and sheds if possible. This will significantly reduce your chances of shifting shade

Plan to install trellises, string grids, and tomato cages on the north side of your beds, where they will not shade out low-growing plants when covered by climbing and vining plants later in the season. A fence to the north also offers wind protection for plants with stems prone to breakage. 

Consider how microclimates may vary the temperatures in a location next to a south-facing structure. Install your beds a few feet out from a brick wall that may radiate too much heat for plants in the lettuce and brassica families. Similarly, a bed with walls on three sides may not have enough airflow for dahlias or peonies. 

Away From Maturing Plants

An L-shaped bed constructed with red bricks, offering a sturdy foundation for gardening. Diverse flora, from vivid flowers to lush herbs, flourish harmoniously creating a picturesque botanical haven.Understanding the size of plants in your yard and your neighbor’s prevents siting errors.

If your garden is young, take a minute to imagine the yard in its full mature glory before choosing a location. The red twig dogwood shrubs on the east side of a proposed bed are cute and shrubby right now, but they won’t be for long. The maple tree your neighbor popped in on the property line might not be a concern right now, but how many hours of sun will its canopy block in five years?

Knowing the mature height and width of the plant materials in your yard, as well as your neighbors’, will help prevent siting mistakes and shady surprises. Depending on how your beds are built, what they’re filled with, and how much energy you have, a raised bed is not something you’ll want to move. Get it right the first time with a little foresight and some plant identification skills.   

East-west Orientation

Wooden raised beds nestled in a fenced garden, offering a rustic charm to the outdoor space. The gentle sunlight bathes the lush greenery, creating a picturesque scene of natural beauty and tranquility.Position raised beds with short sides east-west for consistent sun exposure across the bed.

Since the sun arcs from east to west, a bed oriented this way will offer the most consistent exposure. Site your beds so the short sides are on the east and west ends of a proposed space and the long sides are on the north and south. This will allow maximum sun exposure, with peak hours reaching most parts of your bed equally. 

Level Ground

Sunlight illuminates a small wooden bed, its surface adorned with vibrant plants thriving under its warmth. The surrounding area boasts an array of potted plants, adding diversity and charm to the garden scene.A sloped surface requires careful leveling and possible retention structures.

When choosing a location, look for terrain that is mostly flat or can be easily leveled. Although raised beds are forgiving of moderate terrain idiosyncrasies, their borders should be mostly level on all sides. If there are drastic variations in terrain, beds may shift, sink, drain poorly, or break apart. 

When beds are installed on a significant slope, the soil washes downward over time. This exposes plant roots and creates a soggy, low area. Irrigation is uneven, seeds float downstream, and nutrients settle at the bed’s lowest points, which is not ideal.  

If the desired location for your raised beds is on an angle, use a flat shovel to cut a vertical plane for the back wall of your bed that’s equal to its height and length. Use the displaced soil (and additional soil if necessary) to build out a level section that’s a little wider than your bed’s overall area. Depending on how steep your slope is, you may also need to retain the soil in front of your bed with an anchored length of wood to prevent erosion

Easy Access

A close-up of a wooden  bed hosting a lush variety of plants. Amidst them, a standout plant with delicate, feathery leaves adds a touch of elegance, drawing the eye with its unique beauty.Maintain work path widths of at least three feet to accommodate garden carts.

Raised beds are supposed to make gardening easier. They put less stress on your joints and back while reducing strain from weeding and harvesting. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding where to put them and think critically about how you’ll access your plants. 

Depending on the size of your beds, you may need access on all sides to reach all the plants. For narrower beds, you may only need one central access point.

The work paths around your beds should be wide enough to accommodate a garden cart or wheelbarrow. A three-foot spacing is the standard recommendation. However, you can go a little smaller if your yard is tight and you don’t need to roll anything through. 

Pave your paths with a material that suits your budget and meets your aesthetic. Gravel, grass, pavers, bricks, and wood are commonly used to dress work paths. Mulch and ground cover work equally well.  

Easy to Water

Water hose showers droplets onto vibrant green plants nestled in a raised bed, quenching their thirst and promoting growth. The sun's warm rays gently caress the leaves, basking the garden in a golden glow, nurturing life and vitality.Consider drainage when situating raised beds near the house to avoid water pooling.

On a large property, it may be tempting to tuck your raised beds out of sight and well away from your primary residence. Before making this decision, determine if your water source will reach this desired location. If your hose isn’t long enough, can it be extended? Can you install drip irrigation this far from the house? Is there a sprinkler system you can amend? 

When locating a garden near the house, consider how irrigation will drain away from your beds. Make sure it won’t collect in a low spot near the foundation. You also don’t want to splash muddy water on your paved patio every time you give your plant friends a drink. 

Think about rainfall as well. Raised beds on the south side of a fence or building might not get any natural precipitation at all. If your beds are right up against a tall structure, you’ll have to water those portions of your bed no matter how much rain you got last week. 

Opt for a site near a gutter or downspout so you can capture roof runoff with a rain barrel if sustainable gardening is a priority.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve nailed down a location for your raised beds, you can move on to thinking about size, material, soil, and plant choice. They can be made from wood, metal, stone, brick, concrete, and a wide range of repurposed materials. Locate them in the sun and near a water source. Fill them with rich soil and the plants you love, and your garden game will surely soar to new heights. 

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