I. Why plant in raised plant boxes? ——raised plant box V.S. in-ground bed
When you finally have a yard of your own, you must have conjured up a splendid dream garden full of your beloved blossom, tempting fruits and fresh vegetables. Then here comes a question, where to start? Two choices you will be faced with: planting in the in-ground garden or the raised plant bed. If you are a beginner, then I strongly suggest you start from the raised plant box. Because:
• The acid-base property of the soil in your yard is uncertain. Both too acidic and too alkaline goes against the thrive of your garden.
• It is very unlikely that our yards come with nutritious soil. The infertile ground may combat your planting initiative. Even though you have been aware that the soils in your yard are poor, fertilizing them is another technical project.
• There is a big chance that you have sand, rock or clay in your yard soils which is completely not suitable for plants growth. The only solution is to replace the soil in your yard with qualified ones and I believe you can imagine the workload and difficulties you will be faced with.
• Different species need different environments, humidity, acid-base properties, fertilizers, and so on. Raised plant box is more convenient for you to adjust and control the soil environment accordingly as different species can be cultivated separately.
• Weed comes to another big issue when planting in your yard soils. They may come with too many weed seeds that you have to apply herbicide to control them. Then it is unhealthy or unsafe for your vegetables or fruits to eat.
• The soil in a raised bed always gets warm earlier in the spring than that in your yard, which means you can plant earlier and harvest earlier.
II. Basic types of wooden plant box
Among all of the raised plant beds, wooden ones are the most common and popular options. Since as a natural, body-harmless material, timbers boast neutral color and style as well as excellent breathability and water retention.
Raised wooden plant boxes can well integrate into the landscape, and work as the most indispensable supplement in a garden, both decorative and practical. Besides, there are a wide variety of timbers that can be selected and rich styles and colors (due to different timbers) are available to meet uses’ various needs, from simple and single containers to more complicated and ornamental ones.
Here is a summary of the very basic and common choices you will have when choosing wooden plant boxes. If you are a beginner, the following information will provide you some practical references.
Bottom-free Square or Rectangular Plant Bed
Bottom-free square or rectangular wooden raised plant beds are pretty common. They feature simple structures, 4 raised sidewalls without a bottom and removable baffle (not affirmatively chosen), and are available in a variety of sizes, heights and materials to satisfy gardeners’ basic requirements.
• Easy assembly or DIY
• Different plants can be planted and cultivated separately according to their characteristics.
• Several plant beds can be placed together, making the garden looks pretty tidy and luxuriant.
• Do not need a drainage system as the water can be drained out directly from the bottom.
• Space inefficient: gardeners with yards in limited space need to think over before purchase.
• Inconvenient to move: the bottom-free design makes the box unlikely to move.
Tiered Wooden Plant Box
A tiered wooden plant box can be regarded as the vertical combination of a couple of single rectangular ones. Comparing with a single rectangular planter, this kind can accommodate more plants and species. Besides, its structure endows the whole frame a richer sense of hierarchy, a perfect blend of practicality and decoration.
• Spatial intensive: comparing with a single-layer plant box, a layered one in the same size can accommodate more plants and species, which is pretty suitable for the yard or garden with limited spaces.
• Stronger decorative: with a rich sense of hierarchy, tiered wooden plant boxes can not only serve as a garden supplement but also as a highlight of your yard or garden.
• More entertaining planting process: planters are provided with more space to display their creativity, which turns the process of planting itself a kind of enjoyment, suitable for both several family members or friends and a single garden artist.
• Both drainage and irrigation systems need to be designed thoughtfully. A more complicated system needs a more precise supporting facility accordingly.
• Inconvenient to move: the bottom-free design adding the weight of the soil and plants makes the whole box unlikely to move.
Waist-height Raised Planter
A waist height raised planter is a plant box arranged on a standing frame whose height is improved to the situation of people’s waist. Unlike the bottom-free ones, such a planter is always provided with a bottom base. Some of them are even provided with wheels for easy movement.
• Planting without bending down: this waist-height planter is pretty friendly to people with back or knee diseases who is hard to bend down to the ground.
• Better adaptive: comparing with the bottom-free ones, this kind of plant box can be placed in more places without worrying about earth leakage, such as balconies, porches or near the gates.
• Portable: plant boxes with a standing frame is easier to move. If users want to change the place of the box, it can be achieved with the help of some others. Besides, some waist-height plant boxes are provided with wheels, which can be moved by a single person.
• The height of this kind of plant box limits its planting space. It is unlikely to design a plant box at this height with more tiers and in larger sizes. Therefore, fewer amounts and species of plants can be accommodated comparing with bottom-free or shorter ones.
• Drainage system needs to be paid attention to before purchasing. If the design of a waist-height plant box is unreasonable, then it is unlikely for your plants to thrive in it.
Step-ladder plant boxes are excellent solutions to the planters whose space is very limited, or just want plants to serve decorative without occupying too much space. Their step-like structure saves space horizontally while adding more independent plant boxes vertically. Besides, their neutral and unique look can highlight and enrich your garden, yard, porch or balcony with a creative sense of depth.
• Saving space: plant boxes of the step-ladder planters are arranged vertically, which is a very smart solution that saving space effectively while not sacrificing the amount and species of plants.
• Separated plant boxes: with independently arranged boxes, plants in diverse species can be arranged in the same plant bed frame without worrying about their conflicted growing environmental needs.
• Limited planting and growing space: the step-ladder structure limits the space of each of the plant boxes, both in width and in-depth. In such circumstances, some large-size and well-rooted plants are not suitable for it.
Not all of the timbers are suitable to be made into raised plant boxes. The raw material shall feature a certain degree of hardness and high density for better against rot. Besides, wood made into plant beds shouldn’t contain any body-harmful chemicals as the vegetables and fruits may get contaminated, and that the toxic substance may permeate into the soil and underground water system. What’s more, given that plant boxes are usually placed outside in all weather and close to damp soil, the timber should be water-resistance treated to ensure longer service life.
• Woods that can Consider Using
• Some Common Water-resistance Treatment
Sodium Borate (SBX)
Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ)
Micronized Copper Quaternary (MCQ)
Copper Azole (CA)
It is suggested that before purchasing, check and make sure that the relevant chemical is body and environment-harmless.
• Woods that Should Avoid
Plant beds made of CCA (Chromated copper arsenate) pressure-treated wood or old railway ties should both be avoided as contained toxic arsenate may permeate into the soil to be absorbed by plants.
Recycled or Reclaimed Wood
The recycled or reclaimed wood with old paints as well as uncertain origin and ingredients is very likely to contain lead which should be avoided even it is very cheap.
III. How to choose the right plant box?
With so many choices in front of you, to make the proper one, here are some factors you need to consider before purchasing the plant box:
•How is the space of your yard/ garden?
There are different sizes and structures of plant boxes available, if your space is limited, then a spatial compact layered plant box can be a good choice. A layered planter usually comprises several independent boxes that can accommodate more species. Besides, with the vertical space added, the quantity of plants you can grow is larger than in a single-layer one.
•What kind of plants do you want to grow?
The type of planter you need is mainly decided by the species you want to grow. You’d better make a general planting plan ahead before purchasing. Some plants prefer a drier environment, then you need to choose a box made of wood with better breathability and provided with a reasonable drainage system. While some others feature well-developed root systems, therefore, deeper boxes are required.
•Is it convenient for you to bend down to the ground?
If you have back or knee diseases, a waist-height planting box can be more suitable for you. Planting in the garden or yard is a joyful activity, the process should be pleasant without adding unnecessary extra burden to your body.
•Do you need to move the planter?
If the weather of your place is not suitable for the plants to leave outside all year round, or you have big chances to change the spatial pattern of your space, then you may need plant boxes with mobility.
Gardening is so much entertaining, enjoyable and complicated that it seems to have always been a part of people’s dream life no matter in which part of the world. The wording of “best plant box buying guide” is a little bit tricky, because the most amusing part in gardening is just exploring, exploring the preferred, most suitable tools and approaches by yourselves.
The most suitable plant boxes are decided by many factors, the plants you want to grow, the space of your garden, the weather in your places, the situation of your body and so on. But it ultimately depends on your taste and sense. However, no matter what kind of choices you will finally make, the only thing you should keep in mind is always choosing the environmental-friendly and toxic chemicals-free planters.
This “guide” only stated some very basic information about the wooden plant boxes. If you can get a little inspiration from it, then I would feel so glad. Gardening is a big, fantasy world that once you opened the door you can never stop exploring and finding. Wish you enjoy this wonderful trip and create your dream garden.