A raised garden bed combines the features of traditional and container gardening. This hybrid bed is efficient and productive, but it has special soil needs you might not be aware of.
Keep reading to get the scoop on the best raised bed soil for your garden.
Our Top Picks for the Best Raised Bed Soil
FoxFarm Happy Frog Soil
Miracle-Gro Performance Raised Bed Soil
Coast of Maine Castine Soil
Plant Magic Compressed Soil
When you want the ultimate performance from your raised garden you need FoxFarm Happy Frog. This American-made premium raised bed soil is a mixture of the richest organic ingredients from the Pacific Northwest Coast.
Humboldt County, California, is home to Coastal Redwoods, the most impressive trees in the world. They thrive in ancient, loamy humus that empowers their enormous growth.
FoxFarm sustainably mixes this native soil with locally-sourced earthworm castings, bat guano, and ground oyster shells. This nutrient-rich blend boasts a living population of soil microbes and mycorrhizae to give your plant’s roots an impressive boost.
Due to state regulations, this soil mix is unavailable in Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Missouri, and South Dakota. If you live in one of these states, use FoxFarm Ocean Forest Soil mixed with mycorrhizal fungi.
- The soil includes mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial microbes
- FoxFarm is sustainably made in America using natural ingredients
- This soil is rich with all essential and trace nutrients that plants need
- FoxFarm Happy Frog is not available in FL, GA, HI, IN, MO, or SD
- This soil blend is somewhat expensive
Miracle-Gro is the most well-known name in backyard gardening. This company sells everything you need to grow a flourishing garden on any budget.
Miracle-Gro Performance Raised Bed Soil is an organic mix specifically engineered for raised garden beds. It is a nutritious blend of loamy compost and perlite with excellent water retention properties.
This professionally composted soil mixture is alive with beneficial microbes and fungi. These organisms help strengthen plant roots so they can thrive outdoors.
Miracle-Gro is an excellent inexpensive soil designed for raised gardens. To get the best results, supplement this soil with Miracle-Gro Performance Raised Bed Nutritional Granules six to eight weeks after planting.
- Miracle-Gro is a high-quality and affordable option
- This blend is designed for use in raised garden beds
- The soil includes living beneficial microbes
- This soil can be slow-draining in humid climates
- This product is not available in CA
Organic gardening can be challenging if you start with inferior soil. Some organic soil mixes require extra fertilizer applications to boost plant development.
Do you want the ultimate organic raised bed soil packed with nutrients? If so, you need Coast of Maine Castine organic soil mix.
This blend contains composted manure, worm castings, biochar, mycorrhizae, kelp, and lobster meal. This premium mix has everything your garden needs to flourish from seed to harvest.
Coast of Maine Castine raised bed soil is a perfect option for rainy climates due to its excellent drainage properties. Plus, the biochar prevents crucial nutrients from washing away in heavy rain.
- This organic soil mix contains mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial microbes
- The nutrient-rich formula has everything your plants need to thrive
- Biochar binds with nutrients so they don’t wash away
- This is a somewhat more expensive option
- The quality of this natural product can vary between batches
Raised garden beds lose moisture faster than in-ground beds due to increased surface area and circulation. This moisture loss can be rapid and devastating in arid climates.
Compressed raised bed soil improves moisture retention by incorporating coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss. Plant Magic Compressed Soil combines coconut coir with organic compost to help your plants thrive in the heat.
This soil mix is great for starting seeds in your outdoor raised garden. It contains a comprehensive blend of mycorrhizae, amino acids, essential nutrients, and trace minerals.
What’s the best way to use compressed raised bed soil? We recommend mixing it with premium potting mix or topsoil to keep your garden moist throughout the hot summer.
- This soil provides superior moisture management
- It contains active beneficial microbes and mycorrhizae
- The formula includes a comprehensive source of essential and trace nutrients
- Plant Magic Compressed Soil works best when mixed with garden soil
- This option is on the expensive side
Raised Bed Soil Mix Buyer’s Guide
Raised bed gardening combines both desirable and undesirable aspects of traditional and container gardens.
These elevated plots benefit from better air circulation, fewer weeds, increased pest resistance, and more easily controlled growing conditions. However, they can dry out quickly, lose crucial nutrients to watering, and be more susceptible to diseases.
Starting with the perfect raised bed soil enables you to get all of the benefits with none of the drawbacks! The following brief buyer’s guide will help you pick the perfect soil for your garden.
The best raised bed soil type is a sandy loam that is rich in organic matter. This soil texture remains loose, resists compaction, and drains well.
Do you want to make your own sandy loam soil? Combine one cup of sand, one quart of compost, and one gallon of topsoil and mix thoroughly.
The most notable benefit of growing your garden in a raised bed is the ability to control soil composition. This enables you to provide your raised vegetable garden with the right balance of nutrients throughout the growing season.
Our top picks for the best raised bed soil are all great sources of essential nutrients and minerals. To continue delivering these key elements all season, add Hoss Micro Boost to your raised beds.
All of the best raised bed soil mixes contain mycorrhizal fungi and other beneficial microbes. Why are these little germs so essential for a healthy raised garden?
Each pound of natural earth is alive with over 4.5 trillion microscopic organisms like fungi, bacteria, algae, and protozoa. Many of these microorganisms are essential for plant growth and disease resistance.
Mycorrhizae are fungi that intertwine with plant roots. They increase the bioavailability of important nutrients in exchange for feeding on sugar produced by the plants. This is the oldest and most prevalent symbiotic relationship observed in nature.
Cheap potting soil is often sterilized, which removes all beneficial organisms. Plants grown in sterile soil suffer from slow development, lackluster foliage, diseases, and poor crop production. They also lose the important mycorrhizae-root communication network, which allows plants to alert each other to pest infestations.
If your raised bed soil is sterile, you should add a potent blend of soil microbes. We recommend using Big Foot Mycorrhizae and Real Growers Recharge to strengthen roots and prepare your plants for outdoor growth.
Proper hydration is arguably the greatest challenge you will face with raised gardens. Depending on your climate, you may end up with soil that is either too dry or oversaturated.
Air flowing over the increased surface area wicks moisture from raised bed soil faster than ground soil. Add coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss to your beds if you live in an arid environment. These compressed soil additives increase water retention and slow evaporation.
Do you get heavy rainfall during the growing season? If so, ensure you install a raised garden bed with adequate drainage to prevent pooling. Amend your raised bed soil with biochar to keep nutrients from washing away in the rain.
What is the best pH for raised bed soil? The answer depends on which crops you are cultivating. Generally, plants can survive in a pH range of 6.0-8.0.
The optimal pH balance for raised flower gardens is around 6.5, while annual veggies prefer a more alkaline environment of 7.5. The beauty of raised beds is the ability to tailor each plot to the ideal soil pH for the plants you are growing.
Budget is often a deciding factor when shopping for the best raised bed soil. You might be tempted to save money by skimping on the soil, but this can cost you more in the long run.
Cheap potting soil lacks core nutrients and beneficial microbes that plants need to survive. You will have to purchase these ingredients separately and apply fertilizer frequently to make up for this.
A better way to save money on raised bed soil is by mixing your own filler blend. Mix equal parts homemade soil and premium raised bed soil to stretch your dollar without sacrificing your harvest.
Raised Bed Soil Frequently Asked Questions
How do you mix your own raised bed soil?
The best raised bed soil type is sandy, loamy, and rich in organic matter. You can make your own by combining the following ingredients and mixing them thoroughly:
- One gallon of topsoil
- One quart of compost
- One cup of sand
- One cup of compressed (dry) coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss
- One teaspoon of mycorrhizae
- One teaspoon of a nutrient blend like compost tea
After mixing, fully saturate the soil with water and leave it to dry in a sunny spot for a full day before planting.
You can use this homemade raised bed soil alone, but for the best results, mix it in equal parts with high-quality soil like FoxFarm or Coast of Maine.
Do you need to fertilize raised garden beds?
Yes; raised garden beds benefit from regular fertilizer applications.
Increased evaporation and drainage can leave raised beds short of critical nutrients and minerals. Fertilizer helps provide your flowers and veggies with the elements they need to flourish.
You should apply fertilizer to your raised bed soil after about six weeks, or once seedlings emerge and grow two sets of true leaves. Continue to lightly fertilize once a week, or every other week, until harvest.
Give Your Garden the Best Raised Bed Soil
After reading this article, you know all about growing a prolific raised garden. You should feel confident choosing the best raised bed soil for your garden.
There are still so many things to learn about cultivating a bountiful garden! Want more garden content? Visit our gardening page for in-depth guides, explainer posts, and great ideas!