Raised garden beds– an evaluation

Raised garden beds– an evaluation

We started raised bed gardening in 2014 when we realized that they would keep the soil from washing away. We bought cedar beds made by Greene’s Fence both from Home Depot and Amazon, and over several years worked up to about 23 4×4 beds. We had some topsoil delivered and added our compost and some commercial compost as we built them up.

Greene’ Fence raised beds, 1 year old and 2 years old.

But by the third year, the cedar beds started to deteriorate and we began replacing the beds about every three years. Needless to say, this can get expensive. In the above picture, you can see the one year old frame in the foreground and a two-year old frame behind it, already starting to fall apart.

Last year we decided we’d had enough, and we ordered 4 vinyl 4×4 beds to replace four of our rotting beds. The original ones were made by New England Arbors. These were very sturdy and still look great today. However, they don’t seem to be available any more.

New England Arbors– dog not included

This January we ordered some from Amazon made by Kdgarden which were pretty similar, but the Chinese company (Qingdao Kdgarden) that makes them seems to have dropped them from their product line. Or maybe they fell into the Suez?

Barton and Kdgarden match each other

We looked at ones from Home Depot made by Vigoro, but when we tried to assemble them, we discovered that they snapped together without any strong vinyl vertical tracks in the support poles and they came apart very easily. They also had some tiny little corner locks that were very hard to insert and didn’t stay together either, so we returned them to Home Depot.

The final order through Amazon was for frames made by Barton. These were identical to those from Kdgarden and the panels and posts were interchangeable. These are what we have switched to. They are very strong and fairly nice looking.  However, they don’t exactly match the panels and posts from New England Arbors so we will have to use our table saw to cut a groove in the other side of one of the new Barton boards to lock into the posts from NE Arbor. 

Joints in Barton (left) and NE Arbors (right)

All of the Barton frames come with glue to secure them. We haven’t bothered yet but may use it on the ones of separate ancestries. These vinyl frames cost about twice what we paid for the original Greene’s Fence cedar frames (they are about $80 each) but considering the cost of replacing the cedar frames several times this is a far better deal. Thankfully, they are still available.

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