What to Put Under Raised Garden Beds

A thick layer of mulch helps protect soil moisture levels while simultaneously eliminating weeds. But avoid plastic mulch; it locks away earthworms and leaches chemicals into the soil.

Cardboard and newspaper can both serve as effective weed prevention methods, while wood chips from untreated lumber sources will reduce any additional chemicals entering the soil.


Cardboard makes an excellent material to line the bottom of raised garden beds. It smothers weeds and prevents their growth while also keeping moisture in the soil. You can find cardboard at most grocery stores; just be sure that you look for one without tape and minimal markings. Alternatively, newspapers printed with soy-based ink may work as an alternative option – be sure to cover all surfaces of the bed either with cardboard or newspaper to deter animals from accessing your garden bed; for added security use a stainless steel gopher net that protects vegetable gardens from goingbblers and gophers alike!

Wood chips make an affordable and simple option for lining raised garden beds, ideal for beginner gardeners who don’t yet know much about gardening. Not only are wood chips inexpensive and easy to install, they decompose quickly to provide organic material into the soil. Furthermore, wood chips allow adequate drainage which is vital in raised beds. However, if chemicals used to produce wood chips cause concern then an organic mulch might be preferable as an option instead.

One of the main concerns with garden liners is their inability to allow moisture into the soil below, meaning any excess water cannot easily seep through and can oversaturate plants – particularly problematic with raised beds planted in poor-quality soil or suffering from nutritional deficiencies.

Some gardeners opt to line their raised garden beds with landscape fabric as a protective measure, but this material doesn’t decompose and may prevent earthworms from accessing the soil, as well as leach potentially harmful chemicals into it.

Cardboard and newspaper are among the most effective strategies for keeping weeds from germinating in raised garden beds, but there are other techniques available as well – like using wood chips, compost or even leaves as bases to your raised beds to reduce weed growth.


Raised beds can be lined with various materials. Some materials are better at keeping weeds at bay, adding organic matter, and encouraging earthworms than others; choosing the appropriate material depends on factors like cost, durability, water retention/drainage capacity and what kinds of plants you plan on growing in them.

Cardboard is an inexpensive solution that’s ideal for creating the bottom layer of a raised garden bed, as it helps eliminate weeds while simultaneously adding organic matter as it decomposes. Cardboard makes for a great non-chemical way to treat soil with organic matter in their garden.

Newspaper is another fantastic choice for creating the bottom layer of a raised garden. A thick layer of newspaper helps prevent weeds from sprouting while simultaneously maintaining moisture levels in the soil. Most newspapers utilize soy-based inks that won’t harm it as it breaks down.

Landscape fabric offers another viable alternative to cardboard and newspaper in terms of keeping out weeds, without decomposing. Unfortunately, though it won’t decompose, landscape fabric may obstruct earthworm activity and decrease airflow within the soil – neither being recommended as suitable choices for vegetable gardens.

Wood chips, sticks, branches or leaves make great materials to layer at the base of a raised garden. Be sure to select natural mulch over those dyed or treated with chemicals as these could leach into the soil and potentially leach into its depths. If building in an area where animals like rabbits or deer roam freely, consider enclosing your beds with chicken wire as an effective barrier; just be wary not to do this too tightly so pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds cannot access your beds!

Alternatively, for an ideal long-term solution consider installing a hugelkultur in the base of your raised bed. A hugelkultur is an organic container garden filled with materials that slowly decompose into soil as part of an organic solution; such as grass clippings, rotted logs, branches leaves and fruit pits which all make excellent additions to a hugelkultur.

Wood Chips

Wood chips can save money when filling your raised garden bed, providing an economical yet efficient base. Not only are they great at improving soil structure and providing nutrients as they break down, they’re also effective at smothering weeds while making root ball digging simple – though one downside might be temporary nitrogen loss due to woody material temporarily binding up nitrogen molecules; to compensate, you may need to supplement with extra nitrogen supplements when using this method.

When selecting untreated, natural mulch, it can reduce the risk of chemicals leaching into the soil. Logs, sticks, branches and leaves all make great options as they decompose quickly; you could even use chopped leaves in combination with compost for an even faster decomposition rate.

Landscape fabric can also serve as an effective barrier against pests like voles, moles, etc. and should not be relied upon exclusively.

One downside of landscape fabric is that it may be more costly than cardboard and newspaper options; however, its durability makes up for that cost difference.

Some gardeners like to utilize hay as the foundation of their raised gardens. It provides an inexpensive and effective way to start gardening right away and can also be reused throughout subsequent seasons. Hay decomposes over time to add rich organic matter back into the soil while acting as an excellent base for plants needing lots of moisture.

Another approach is using non-dyed and natural shredded mulch such as wood chips or bark to cover an area and suppress weeds while providing an ideal habitat for earthworms. This option may work better for annuals that need low amounts of nitrogen such as lettuce and spinach but will not suffice when dealing with crops that need high quantities or acid-sensitive groundcovers.

Preferably, it is best to spread this layer in the fall so it has enough time to decompose before spring planting begins – this way your garden will be prepared when the temperature warms up!

Leaf Mould

Leaf mould can be an ideal option for gardeners who enjoy growing vegetables and herbs, helping smother weeds while improving soil conditions. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t last as long as landscape fabric; as such it may need replacing sooner than cardboard or newspaper sheets.

Before spreading out leaf mold, take steps to clear away and clean up any spent plants or temporary support structures from your garden. This will prevent them from being washed away during windy conditions this fall. Also consider storing any garden ornaments or row cover hoops you don’t use over winter in an enclosed, clean, dry location – now is an opportune time when temperatures change so as to protect from frost or snow damage later on!

Once your bed is prepared for planting, remove any bumps or ruts in its surface with a hand cultivator or handheld rake and create a relatively flat surface on each bed – this will make tilling or working the soil easier later on.

Those without leaf mold can buy it or make their own from leaves gathered into a pile. To do this, build the pile before covering it with soil to prevent its contents from blowing away and speed up decomposition. Water the pile to keep it moist if necessary to ensure decomposition is effective; once dark-brown crumbly leaves with an earthy aroma have formed they’re ready for use!

Your raised beds can also be lined with landscaping fabric or even shredded leaves to reduce weed growth, while being cost-effective alternatives to more costly materials. However, landscape fabric does not allow for adequate drainage; burlap sacks are another cost-effective solution easily found around the home and even potato sacks!

Some people opt to line their beds with treated wood or railroad ties, which can be potentially risky since these materials contain chemicals that leach into the soil when they rot. The good news is that modern treated wood contains much lower levels of creosote than it did previously.

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