Your solution does not have to look like mine

raised bed your solution

The blog has been a bit quiet these past few days as the demands of life have taken over.  While there have been some smaller details taking up  my time (hunting down the source of stinky clothes and ultimately cleaning out the washer’s drain filter, finding or requesting paperwork for taxes, IEP meetings, etc.), the largest activity has to do with shopping, of sorts.

We have begun our home search in earnest this past week, attending a few open houses, going to see a few homes currently on the market, driving around the area to get a sense for various neighborhoods, and contacting a realtor for us to work with.  We are not in a rush to purchase a home, but view it as a good time to start as we do not have to find a place to move into right away.

My time has been spent viewing details and photos online, comparing numbers, and really taking a look at our desires and needs, prioritizing them as no home will likely fulfill them all.

I also have spent more than my fair share of time mentally laying out many yards, trying to work out gardening options – current raised beds vs. adding them, container gardens, amount of sunlight (there will be many more leaves on the trees come summer) and the optimum growing seasons here, as well as balancing it with leaving room for the kids to play and us to grill out.

With the soils here, I am almost certain that raised beds or container gardening are in my future again.  The question is, what kind?  Also, how can I utilize the vertical spaces as well as the horizontal?  (I will save my thoughts on fruit and berries for another post.)

Here are a few raised beds I have seen at various places.  No two look alike or are laid out the same, as each need and location are unique.

The first one below is an example of a square foot garden, located at the U of I Arboretum.  While not technically a ‘raised’ bed, the borders would act as such if you are needing to amend the soil contained therein.


Here are more examples of a raised garden beds, from the same garden.  The first doubles as a greenhouse in cooler weather with the addition of a cold frame.  This time, the bed is raised off the ground.  This could be for a variety of reasons (ease of reaching the plants, to keep it above damp ground, etc.  These particular plants are great early spring additions to your garden.


This circular garden is actually a child’s fairy garden.  It is smaller in size, which is great for shorter arms.  It is meant to invite creativity, not necessarily economical use of space.

child friendly gnome garden with border

Here are several beds from my previous house.  These are all in different parts of the yards, addressing different growing challenges (wet ground, poor soil, weed control, etc.)  Notice how the borders are rarely made of the same materials?  Often I used what I had or could find for free.  
raised bed collage

While raised beds are not often thought of as container gardens, they are in a way; only much larger.  Your typical container garden might look something like these:

raised-container-garden- with border

blueberry bush in container pot




concrete flower container with pic border


The two photos above are of containers found either on the University of Illinois campus or in their arboretum.  I figured I should give credit where credit is due; their gardeners have done fabulous work adding color to may peoples days.

If you are interested in seeing the solutions others have come up with, here are several links for you to explore:

Container Gardening – is just so happens this is a link to the U of I extension office.  I am not trying to promote them, pure coincidence I promise.

HGTV container gardening ideas and video

Urban Gardening with Vegetables

Container Gardening With Vegetables And Herbs – Mother Earth News

Raised Bed Gardening 101 – Planet Natural

7 Secrets For A High-yield Vegetable Garden, Even When You Are Tight On Space

Raised Beds – Soil Depth Requirments

Raised Bed Gardening Tips From Master Gardeners


Are there tips you have learned along the way?  Do you use a traditional method of gardening, raised beds/containers only, or a mix?