Are you struggling with poor soil drainage in your raised\nbed? If so, don\u2019t fret \u2013 all is not\nlost. There are steps you can take to\nsolve the problem so that your raised bed will drain and your plants will grow.\n\n\n\nSo, how do you improve drainage in raised beds? To\nimprove drainage in a raised bed, loosen the soil, attract worms to your raised\nbed, and add the right soil amendments (such as compost, perlite, or vermiculite). If you have not built your raised bed yet, be\nsure to choose a good site, use a good drainage system, and choose the right\nelevation for your raised bed.\n\n\n\nOf course, it\u2019s good to know why these measures work. It\u2019s also helpful to have a list of what types\nof soil amendments to use. Let\u2019s get\ninto more detail about that now.\n\n\n\nHow to Improve Drainage in Raised Beds\n\n\n\nThere are some steps you can take before you build your\nraised bed to improve drainage \u2013 we\u2019ll go over those first. Then, we\u2019ll talk about some ways you can\nimprove drainage if your raised bed is already built.\n\n\n\nHow to Prepare a Raised Bed Site to Drain Better\n\n\n\nBefore you build your raised bed, there are a few things you\ncan do to improve drainage and give your plants a better chance to grow well.\n\n\n\nThe first step is to choose a good site for your raised bed,\nso we\u2019ll start there.\n\n\n\nChoose a Good Site for Your Raised Bed\n\n\n\nWhen choosing the ideal site for your raised bed, you will\nwant to look at a few things:\n\n\n\nthe type of soil that will be under the raised bedthe amount of sunlight exposure in that areathe drainage pattern in the yard\n\n\n\nDig into the yard in a few places and see what type of soil\nyou have. If it is sandy, it may drain\nwell without any additional work. If it\nis heavy clay, it will hold moisture and will not drain as quickly.\n\n\n\nSandy soil will drain well - and carrots love to grow in it!\n\n\n\nChoose a spot where the soil is sandy and loose, which will\nallow it to drain better. Remember: for\nthe water to drain out of the bottom of the raised bed, it has to go into the\nsoil below!\n\n\n\nAlso, wait for a sunny day and see where the shady spots are\nin the yard. You will want to avoid\nthose shady spots. Remember: trees that\nare bare in the winter will block out lots of sunlight when their leaves come\nout in the spring. Think ahead before\nchoosing a site for your raised bed \u2013 keep it away from trees that will provide\ntoo much shade!\n\n\n\nChoose a spot without too much shade for your raised bed, and the soil will dry out faster.\n\n\n\nFinally, take a look at your yard after a heavy\nrainstorm. Are there any areas where\nwater is pooling up? If so, avoid those\nplaces for your raised bed!\n\n\n\nIf water is pooling up all over the yard after a storm, you\nmight need to install a drainage system before you put in your raised bed.\n\n\n\nInstall a Drainage System for Your Raised Bed\n\n\n\nA drainage system will help to remove water from the area\nwhere you put your raised bed. There are\ntwo basic options: drainage pipes (above or below ground), or foundation\nmaterial that drains well.\n\n\n\nIf you choose drainage pipes, don\u2019t send the water towards\nyour house, or towards a neighbor\u2019s house. \nAlso, call before you dig to find out if there are any buried gas lines\nin your yard.\n\n\n\nWhen choosing a material for the foundation below your\nraised bed, you will want something that drains well. Remember that clay soil drains poorly, while\nsand drains well. You can also use\ngravel as a medium to let water drain out of your raised bed faster.\n\n\n\nClay soil drains poorly, so you may need to use sand or gravel under your raised bed.\n\n\n\nChoose the Right Elevation for Your Raised Bed\n\n\n\nA taller raised bed has more capacity to hold water from a\nrainstorm. This means that your plants\nare less likely to suffer from over watering after summer rainstorms. A taller raised bed is also more forgiving\nfor beginner gardeners, who are prone to overwatering plants.\n\n\n\nThe only downside of a taller raised bed is that it will be\ndifficult to access, especially if it is built for someone who is\ndisabled. One way around this problem is\nto build a raised platform around the raised bed (almost like steps) to make it\neasier to access the bed.\n\n\n\nUse a Raised Bed Liner that Allows Drainage\n\n\n\nNow that you have the right location and the right elevation for your raised bed, you may want to install a raised bed liner. There are some good reasons for doing so \u2013 for more information, check out my article on raised bed liners, and what to use.\n\n\n\nA good raised bed liner will allow water to drain away,\nwithout allowing soil to drain away. You\ncan use landscape fabric, canvas, or hardware cloth (metal mesh) to line your\nraised bed while also allowing drainage.\n\n\n\nCanvas is one possibility for a raised bed liner. It will allow water to drain through easily.\n\n\n\nDon\u2019t use a plastic liner that is non-permeable. Otherwise, the water not drain, and your\nplants will suffer the consequences!\n\n\n\nHow to Improve Drainage in an Existing Raised Bed\n\n\n\nIf your raised bed is already built (or you now have the\nright location, height, and liner), it is time to take the next steps to\nimproving drainage. We\u2019ll start off with\n\n\n\n\nAdd Soil Amendments\n\n\n\nOne of the most fun parts of gardening is playing with different soil amendments to make your plants grow better.\n\n\n\nSome plants, like carrots, like smooth and sandy soil. Others, like blueberries, prefer acidic soil.\n\n\n\nRemember to make your raised garden bed deep enough to hold additional soil amendments.\n\n\n\nYou have some options when choosing soil amendments to\nimprove drainage in your raised bed. Here\nare a few options to consider.\n\n\n\nFirst, you really should consider compost. This is the granddaddy of all soil\namendments.\n\n\n\nCompost improves drainage in heavy clay soils, and adds nutrients for your plants.\n\n\n\nCompost is made from decomposed organic material, such as grass clippings, fallen leaves, dead plants, and kitchen scraps such as banana peels. It is easy to make your own compost \u2013 for more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.\n\n\n\nYou can even add manure to your compost pile! Just make sure that it is completely\ndecomposed before you add it to your garden. \nIf it is not decomposed, then the salts or nitrogen in the manure can\nharm young plants.\n\n\n\nIf you are considering growing carrots or other plants that\nprefer smooth soil, then sand might be just the thing for you. Sand makes the soil smoother, and allows for\nmuch better drainage.\n\n\n\nJust be careful to avoid sand that has salt in it \u2013\notherwise, you will kill your plants before they even get started!\n\n\n\nFinally, you can consider perlite or vermiculite, which are\ntwo soil amendments that improve soil drainage.\n\n\n\nVermiculite holds more water, and so it is best for seedlings and plants that need more water.Perlite holds less water and allows more aeration, so it can be used for plants with low water needs.\n\n\n\nFor more information about these two soil amendments, check out my article on perlite, vermiculite, and some alternatives.\n\n\n\nLoosen & Aerate the Soil in Your Raised Bed\n\n\n\nWhen soil is compacted, water cannot\nflow easily through the soil. When you dig and move the soil around, you\nprevent compaction and aerate the soil at the same time.\n\n\n\nWhen you aerate your soil, you\ncreate more space between particles, so that the water can move through faster.\n\n\n\nUse a shovel or pitchfork to dig up your soil to loosen and aerate it.\n\n\n\nOnce your raised bed is built, using\na rototiller to loosen the soil is out of the question (unless you use a very\nsmall and thin one!) You will have to\nloosen your soil the old fashioned way \u2013 with muscle power! Use a shovel or pitchfork to turn your soil\nover to loosen and aerate it.\n\n\n\n\u00adHow to Get Worms for Your Raised Bed\n\n\n\nAs an alternative to digging, you can use worms to improve\nyour soil structure and drainage! Worms\nbreak down organic matter into soil, and they loosen and aerate the soil,\nallowing for better drainage.\n\n\n\nYou can buy worms online, at a bait shop, or at a garden\ncenter. You can also transplant them\nfrom other areas of your yard, or from a neighbor\u2019s yard.\n\n\n\nEarthworms help to loosen and aerate soil, while breaking down organic material to help plants to grow.\n\n\n\nFor more information, check out my article on how to get more worms in your garden.\n\n\n\nThings You May Want to Avoid in Your Raised Bed\n\n\n\nIf you want to improve drainage a little more, then there\nare a couple of things to avoid in your raised bed.\n\n\n\nFirst of all, avoid a liner that does not allow proper drainage (for instance, a prefabricated or makeshift plastic liner that does not allow water through).\u00a0 This may prevent wood from rotting, but it will prevent proper drainage, which will eventually kill your plants!\n\n\n\nAlso, avoid mulch & other ground coverings that will\nretain moisture in the soil and prevent evaporation by sunlight & heat.\n\n\n\nConclusion\n\n\n\nBy now, you have some ideas about how you can improve the\ndrainage in your raised beds. You also\nknow about some of the things to avoid so that you can prevent poor drainage in\nyour raised beds.\n\n\n\nI hope you found this article helpful \u2013 if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.\n\n\n\nIf you want more information, check out my article on how to make soil drain better, and my article on the signs of over watering your plants.