Do I Need A Liner For My Raised Garden Bed?

Raised garden beds have numerous advantages and can be used in a wide range of applications and settings. They can be a good alternative to in-ground gardening for anyone with enough space on their patio for a small box, a homeowner with a small backyard, or those living in areas with less-than-ideal soil conditions.

If you are constructing a new vegetable or ornamental raised bed garden in your backyard, many elements must be considered, such as the size, height, and placement of the beds, as well as the materials used to construct them. 

Although the outside is crucial, it is equally important to consider what goes inside the garden beds. Whether or not to line the bottoms of raised bed gardens is an aspect that is sometimes ignored.

Nevertheless, raised garden bed liners are an essential element in the construction of a successful growth environment. After building the raised bed of your choice for your gardening needs, the following step is to lay a liner before planting for the season. Bed liners have numerous advantages and can be used on plots of varying sizes.

Do I Really Need To Use A Liner On My Raised Garden Bed?

To keep the boundaries of a garden bed, raised or not, from coming into direct contact with the soil, it is generally a good idea to use a liner. This will considerably lengthen the life of the material, especially in circumstances when wood is employed. Depending on the conditions, the life lifetime of low-quality unprotected pine can be as short as 5 years.

Liners are also highly suggested in circumstances when chemically treated timbers, such as treated pine, are used. Many timbers are treated with CCA (Copper Chrome Arsenate), which has been demonstrated to extend the life of the wood; nonetheless, the chemicals do leak into the soil over time.

The Advantages Of Raised Garden Bed Liners

  • Weed control – Raised garden bed liners act as a barrier between the soil in your box and the ground. If you utilize weed-free soil in your box, this barrier should keep weeds at bay.
  • Pest control – If you don’t want gophers, moles, and other pests eating your crops, inserting raised garden bed liners before pouring your planting soil will also help to keep them out.
  • Good drainage – One of the most difficult aspects of gardening is achieving the correct level of moisture in the soil. Raised garden bed liners help keep the soil moist but not stagnant for best-growing conditions. Water is absorbed into the bed’s lowest layers, keeping it evenly moist.
  • Prevent soil loss – Raised garden bed liners are long-lasting and keep soil from washing away while yet allowing water to escape. Raised garden bed liners not only assist in minimizing soil loss but also keep boxes neat and out of disarray due to washed away dirt.
  • Install on hard surfaces – Raised garden beds with liners can be installed on any firm surface, such as concrete or stone. Gardeners who live in apartments or have little yard space may welcome this fact while planting in these otherwise hard-to-handle areas.

Which Material Should You Use For Your Raised Garden Beds?

The key to selecting the correct material to line the bottom of your raised garden beds is to consider two major factors: what plants you want to keep in your raised garden bed and what you want to keep out of your beds.

You can line the bottom of your raised garden beds with wide-mesh hardware cloth, stainless steel mesh, landscape fabric, burlap sack, or newspaper/cardboard, depending on your budget and gardening goals. We have details about each one of these materials below.

1 – Wide-mesh hardware cloth. This material keeps weeds and burrowing animals out while allowing earthworms to pass through. These are nature’s gardeners, aerating and nourishing the soil for your plants’ benefit. During the building procedure, staple the fabric to the bottom of the garden bed frame.

Once installed, it should last for years. Keep in mind, though, that some hardware cloths are coated to keep them from rusting or tarnishing. So make sure that the one you buy is made of stainless steel that has not been chemically treated.

2 – Gopher or rat mesh made of stainless steel. Like hardware cloth, rat mesh is a tough material is designed specifically to keep burrowing creatures out. Just staple it in place to prevent it from shifting around.

3 – Fabric for landscaping. If you have a weed problem in your yard, landscape fabric might help keep undesirable plant growth out of your raised garden beds. It helps keep weeds at bay by denying them the sunshine they require to grow.

Because landscape fabric is partly permeable, air, water, and nutrients can pass through. If you want proper drainage, landscape fabric is probably your best bet for a raised bed liner. But it may not, however, be robust enough to keep gophers and moles out.

4 – Burlap Sack. If you happen to have an old potato sack lying around, do not throw it out, you could use it to line your raised bed garden. A burlap sack is a robust and long-lasting cloth, making it superior to most landscape fabrics.

It is also moderately water-permeable, which means it will offer adequate drainage if used as a raised bed liner. If you want to ensure adequate drainage and make it more difficult for gophers and moles to chew through, this is probably your best pick for a raised garden bed liner.

5 – Cardboard or newspaper. Even these simple, low-cost materials can prevent weed development beneath your plant beds. Simply place them on the ground before constructing your garden beds on top of them.

´╗┐Alternatively, for the added moisture-retention benefit that mulch gives, insert sheets of newspaper or cardboard near the top of your containers. If you want an inexpensive and biodegradable raised garden bed liner, cardboard is definitely your best bet.

Raised Bed Garden Liners Drawbacks

While garden liners are generally suggested in most circumstances, they have both benefits and drawbacks. One of the drawbacks is that because of the requirement to take out all of the soil, certain liners are quickly damaged and difficult to replace.

Also, in some circumstances, using a liner will lessen the amount of drainage, and it can be difficult for water to escape after it has gotten between the liner and the raised bed’s wall. This can accelerate the degeneration of the structure.

One Extra Tip

Avoid coating your garden beds with plastic, as this prevents drainage and may suffocate the roots of your plants. If you have a weed and pest problem, consider combining metal mesh and fabric or hardware cloth and cardboard to get the best of both worlds.

Final Thoughts

You should now have a better understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of employing a raised bed liner in your garden. You also know about the many materials that can be used, as well as some of the drawbacks.

Even though liners for raised garden beds are crucial and should be incorporated in any raised garden bed, a bottom liner may not be necessary if your raised bed is located on otherwise healthy soil and you aren’t concerned about weeds or burrowing critters.