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USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

To help gardeners understand which plants will grow well for them, the entire USA has been segmented into ‘Plant Hardiness Zones’. Knowing your zone number is helpful when shopping for plants because:

  • Cold-area gardeners can avoid buying plants that simply won’t survive their lowest winter temperatures.
  • Warm-area gardeners can steer clear of plants that need a period of cold weather in order to bloom again.
Find your Plant Hardiness Zone here.

Raise it up?

While planning my vegetable garden for the spring, I have been debating about whether or not to build a raised bed. I decided to weigh out the benefits and drawbacks, and make a logical decision (the best kind of decision, right?). For your benefit, as I’m sure there are other gardeners trying to make this same decision, the pros and cons of raised beds can be found below, along with my decision.


Ensures soil quality. I live in the city and am not quite sure what could be in my soil (i.e. lead). Planting my vegetables in a raised garden bed will help to ensure that my soil is healthy and chemical-free.

Provides better drainage. A raised garden bed provides better drainage for your plants, which will make your plants happier and prevent rot.

Helps keep pests away. Having a structure around an elevated bed can help to protect your plants from pests such as slugs and snails.

Easier on the back. A higher garden means less bending down to weed!

Aesthetically pleasing. There is something eye-catching about a raised garden bed with a wooden border. It is neat, self-contained, and can be a great statement in your garden.


Added costs. Raised beds can be purchased from garden centers or built from material – either way, it could mean less money towards your plants for the season!

Building it. For those trying to cut costs and build their own raised bed, this could result in hours of planning, nailing, re-doing…

The Decision

When making my list of pros and cons, the first pro, “Ensuring soil quality,” was a deal-breaker. Living in a city, I don’t think I would feel comfortable planting my vegetables directly in the ground. The other benefits are appealing as well, especially keeping slugs away from my veggies! As for the drawbacks, I am definitely going to build my own raised bed and have a couple of friends who will be happy to help – it will be a fun project for one of the first sunny weekends in early spring!

Do you use raised beds? Feel free to comment below, with your reasons why or why not.

Happy Gardening!

2 thoughts on “Raise it up?”

  • cheryl

    I have an old wash tub in my backyard that I use for my tomato plants. I also have an old kid's swimming pool that I put my melon plants into last year. that's my raised beds, they seem to work pretty well for me.

    • Amanda Shepard

      Cheryl -

      What great ideas for raised beds! It sounds like they are not only practical, but create a funky statement in your garden. Thanks for sharing!

      - Amanda

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