The Pros and Cons of Metal Raised Garden Beds

If you’re considering building or installing raised beds in your garden, you might be unsure about the kind of material that will be best in the long term. Many gardeners are moving from traditional wood, or plastic to metal raised beds for their functionality and because they look great. But is metal really a good material to use for this purpose?

Types Of Metal-Raised Beds

There are a variety of metal bed frames from which to choose these days. Steel is frequently used because it can withstand a lot of stress without becoming too heavy to work with. It has a gorgeous finish that is also very resistant to weather conditions such as rain and snow.

Galvanized steel is another choice because of its greater resistance to corrosion in wetter conditions and near salt water. Because of its low weight and strong strength features, aluminum is another viable option; nevertheless, it requires more upkeep than other metals. You may get models in copper, brass, bronze, zinc, and stainless steel if you’re looking for something with a little more flair.

In this article, we’ll show you all the pros and cons of using metal for raised beds, including tips on how to choose the best material for durability and long-term use.

metal raised garden bed

The Pros

Let’s start with the pros of why metal makes a good material for either homemade or ready-made garden raised beds:

1. Easy Installation

Installing metal raised garden beds is a breeze! With just a few tools and basic assembling skills, you can have your bed ready in no time. Here are the main benefits of an easy installation:

  • No heavy equipment required
  • DIY friendly for all skill levels
  • Quick assembly process
  • Easy to relocate or adjust when needed
  • Flexibility with design options

Overall, installing metal raised garden beds is so simple that even those without any experience can put one together without breaking a sweat. It’s truly empowering to be able to easily create something yourself. Plus, being able to customize the size, shape, and elevation of your bed makes it easier than ever before to get creative with your design ideas. All this means less stress and more satisfaction in every step of the installation process.

2. Soil Quality Improvement

Who would have thought that metal raised garden beds can improve soil quality? Well, they do! It may come as a surprise to some, but these simple structures are actually quite beneficial when it comes to enhancing your garden’s soil.

To begin with, metal raised gardens provide excellent drainage and air circulation between the soil and the surrounding environment. This allows water to quickly drain away from the root zone of plants and prevents over-watering or water stagnation – both of which can lead to poor plant growth. Furthermore, this also helps reduce compaction in the soil due to more oxygen being supplied and absorbed by the root system.

Moreover, using metal raised gardens for growing crops is ideal for preventing nutrient leeching from heavy rainfalls and keeping fertilizer usage in check. The walls act as a barrier against excess nutrients washing away into waterways and polluting them; instead, those valuable resources remain within the bed’s boundaries where they can be used by plants throughout their growing season.

3. Durability And Maintenance Requirements

Durability and maintenance requirements are two of the major advantages of metal raised garden beds. Metal is a great material for outdoor gardening since it is impervious to the moisture and decay that may destroy wood. It also has a strong resistance to rust and insects, so you won’t have to replace any rotten planks. On top of that, the metal bed frames will outlast their wooden counterparts in terms of durability.

These beds are low-maintenance in comparison to those made of other materials. They can be used as-is, without any further protection, unlike wood, which must be painted or sealed to last. Keeping things looking like new usually only requires a quick wipe-down once in a while. Moreover, metal frames typically come pre-assembled, which makes installation a lot simpler than if you were to construct one from scratch using timber.

The ease of use combined with its durability makes metal raised garden beds a great choice for those who want something low maintenance yet long-lasting. Transitioning seamlessly into design options available for these types of beds is easy because there are plenty to choose from that suit any taste or style preference!

4. Design Options

Metal raised garden beds offer a variety of design options. Gardeners can choose from many shapes and sizes, so they can create a customized space for their plants. They also come in different colors to match the existing décor of your outdoor area. The type of metal used will depend on the gardener’s budget and desired aesthetic look; galvanized steel is often chosen as it is rust-proof and long-lasting.

Another advantage that these beds have over traditional ones is that they are easy to assemble and require minimal maintenance. There’s no need for extra tools or supplies; all you need is some basic knowledge about assembling them properly and following the instructions provided with each package. Additionally, the lightweight material makes them easier to move around than heavier materials like wood or concrete.

Gardening experts appreciate this ease of use because it allows them to focus more time on tending to their plants instead of dealing with complex assembly processes. With metal raised beds, gardeners can spend less time putting together their gardens, giving them more time to enjoy nature and watch their plants thrive!

5. Weed Control Opportunities

Using metal raised garden beds can provide an excellent opportunity for weed control. The tight spaces created by the structure of a metal bed make it difficult for weeds to take root and spread quickly. This means that less time spent weeding is required to keep your plants healthy and free from unwanted growth. With this in mind, you will be able to focus more on other tasks such as harvesting or pruning.

Since these beds are made from metal they do not require any digging or tilling before planting which eliminates any potential weed seeds being introduced into the soil. Furthermore, if needed, an additional layer of mulch or fabric coverings can also be added over the top of the metal frame providing further protection against weeds taking hold.

6. Pest Resistance Features

Metal raised garden beds offer excellent pest resistance features which can help to prevent costly damage and loss in the vegetable garden.

Metal raised beds are strong and sturdy enough to withstand burrowing animals that might otherwise dig up plants or vegetables. The sides of these beds also have raised edges that discourage crawling insects such as ants from entering into the bedding soil mix and dining on root systems. In addition, many metal-framed raised beds are coated with special weatherproof materials that protect against corrosion, rusting, warping, and other damages caused by exposure to the elements over time. This helps keep pests away while preserving the structure’s strength for years to come.

Since metal does not absorb moisture as wood does, there is less chance for fungi or molds to grow in the planting medium – another potential source of pest problems. Keeping moisture levels low also reduces plant stress due to drought conditions; this further contributes to fewer insect infestations since stressed plants are more prone to attack harmful bugs than healthy ones.

7. Growing Season Extension Potential

Another great benefit of metal raised garden beds is their ability to extend growing seasons. Because they are elevated, these beds can retain heat from the sun much more efficiently than traditional in-ground gardens. This means that you’ll be able to grow your favorite vegetables and fruits even when temperatures outside drop significantly. Additionally, because the soil in a raised bed will warm up faster due to its elevation, you may find yourself harvesting a crop before it would have been ready without such an advantage.

Metal raised garden beds also offer protection against frost damage. Frost can cause serious destruction to crops planted directly into ground soil; however, with a raised bed setup, this worry becomes much less of an issue as cold air won’t be able to penetrate through the walls of the structure like it could on standard in-ground plants. You’re free to harvest delicious produce regardless of what Mother Nature throws at you!

8. Metal Won’t Rot or Warp Over Time

One of the main pros of using metal for raised beds instead of wood is that it won’t rot and warp over time like wood can.

Wood in raised beds can be particularly problematic if it’s not treated or isn’t wide enough because it can quickly start to rot and crack. Once this happens, soil can begin to leak out of the sides onto paths or lawns. This can make the raised bed’s walls unstable and even collapse.

Wood is also likely to shrink and expand depending on the weather and can absorb water if it’s not treated properly. The beauty of metal raised beds is (providing they’re made from the right kind of metal) that they won’t rot, warp, or be impacted so much by the weather.

9. Metal Doesn’t Need Treating

If you use wood for raised beds, it needs to be treated with paint or oil to keep them in good condition. If wood isn’t treated regularly, it will, in time, start to warp, crack and let in more moisture. With metal, providing you get the right kind, you won’t need to treat it because it won’t let in moisture or crack over time.

10. Less Long-Term Expense

Although some may argue that it’s cheaper to use wood or plastic for raised beds instead of metal, wood is becoming increasingly more expensive, so there is often little difference between the two.

If the initial outlay for metal to build raised or buy ready-made beds is a little higher, you should save by using metal in the long term.

This is because metal will last longer than wood or plastic, and it won’t need treatment on a yearly basis, so you shouldn’t need to replace your metal beds for many years.

Good quality ready-made metal raised beds sometimes come with a structural guarantee of up to ten years, so it’s often worth spending a little more on a quality bed that will last longer because it will cost less in the long term.

11. Take Up Less Space

The sides of most metal raised beds are usually thinner than wood beds, so they take up less space.

Thinner sides on raised beds are especially useful if you don’t have much room or if you want to install several beds with walking space between each one.

Gardeners that want to create a vegetable garden to grow various kinds of fruit, vegetables, and herbs often choose metal-raised beds to create a uniform, easy-to-use productive area that they can use for years and seasons to come.

metal raised garden bed

The Cons

Now let’s take a look at the potential cons of using metal for garden raised beds and how you can avoid possible problems:

1. Some Kinds of Metal Can Rust

When the wrong kind of metal is used to construct raised garden beds, this can cause rust which will lead to discoloration, and in time the metal will start to get brittle and flaky, which can lead to holes in the structure. If you’re considering building your own raised beds using metal or buying ready-made ones, it’s important to ensure you get galvanized metal that won’t rust.

Galvanized metal is usually made from steel dipped and coated with molten zinc. This process helps to protect the metal beneath and prevents it from rusting. So choosing galvanized metal is key in ensuring your metal raised beds last a long time. It’s also important to ensure the metal is joined with stainless steel bolts that won’t rust.

People often make the mistake of using the wrong bolts, which can rust and break in time, leading to the bed breaking, or becoming out of shape – even if the sides are made from galvanized metal.

If you’re buying ready-made beds, it’s always a good idea to check what they’re made from and also checks the joints are good so no rust can make its way through a bad joint or bolt.

2. Metal Beds Can Get Dented

Another downside of metal-raised beds is that they can be dented or knocked out of shape. When you have a busy garden or productive vegetable patch, it’s easy to kick a bed or hit it with a garden tool.

If the metal is thin, dents can happen easily and can be difficult to knock back out which can lead to the side of the bed looking misshapen. It’s not always easy to prevent things like this, but choosing a slightly thicker, better-quality metal should make it much harder to dent.

3. Metal Raised Beds can get Scratched

Another problem with metal-raised beds is the potential to scratch them; not only does this make them look tired over time, but it can also lead to rust.

Rust can sometimes happen if the outer galvanized layer is scratched to reveal the metal (usually steel) beneath. In time, this exposed metal can go rusty, which can get inside, causing it to go flakey and break down. Scratches can be avoided by choosing a high-quality metal and taking care of the beds when using garden tools.

4. Metal Beds Aren’t Always Child Friendly

If you have small children running around your garden, there will inevitably be trips and falls, so you want to ensure things are as safe as possible. Some metal raised garden beds have sharp or very straight edges, which can be dangerous if a child (or even an adult) falls on one.

The good news is you can get metal beds with rounded edges, so if you have small children visiting your garden, or someone more likely to trip or fall, this might be something to consider.

5. Maintenance Requirements

Many gardeners are surprised to learn that metal raised beds to need more maintenance than their wooden and plastic counterparts. According to research, 50% of all metallic raised bed gardens require annual maintenance — including repairs, painting, or weatherproofing. This is not an insignificant amount of work for the average gardener!

The main issue with maintaining a metal garden bed is rust, which can occur due to exposure to rain, humidity, or salty air. Rust weakens the structure of the bed, making it less stable over time. To prevent this, you must regularly clean and inspect your bed for any damage caused by rust. You may also need to paint it every few years depending on where you live and how much wear-and-tear your bed gets from gardening tools and plants.

6. Initial Cost

One of the major cons of metal raised garden beds is their initial cost. They are generally more expensive than other options such as wood, plastic, and fabric. Here are a few points to consider when looking at this expense:

  • Building your own bed out of scrap metal can save you money but may require a certain level of skill or experience.
  • Prefabricated models come in all shapes and sizes which means finding one that fits your budget isn’t always easy.
  • Metal beds have longer lifespans compared to other types, so you could end up saving money in the long run if you plan on using them for years to come.
  • The price range for these beds varies greatly depending on material type, size, and features like built-in irrigation systems or extra shelving space.

When considering the costs associated with metal raised garden beds it’s important to think about how much value they bring over time rather than just focusing on upfront expenses.

7. Heat Retention

The initial cost may be hefty, but heat retention from metal raised garden beds can also prove to be a major disadvantage. Metal absorbs and radiates heat much more efficiently than other materials like wood or plastic. This can lead to extreme temperatures during the summer months that are too hot for some plants. While this could potentially work in favor of root vegetables such as carrots or potatoes, it’s not ideal for many species due to their temperature sensitivity.

When exposed to direct sunlight, metal raised garden beds tend to become very hot quickly. If you have soil with poor drainage sitting on top of a metal bed, water will evaporate quickly leading to dryness throughout your entire garden plot–not just where the sun is hitting directly. As a result, plants won’t receive enough hydration and they’ll struggle to thrive in these conditions. Also, if left unchecked over time the high levels of heat generated by the metal frame can cause organic matter within your soil mix to break down faster than normal which can lower its fertility level significantly.

Heat retention issues associated with metal raised garden beds make them less than ideal for those who live in climates with higher temperatures or who want maximum control over how warm or cool their gardening space remains. With careful consideration, however, these problems can still be avoided allowing one to enjoy all the benefits that come along with having a sturdy and long-lasting structure without compromising plant growth.

8. Soil Compaction

Metal raised garden beds have a few cons that must be considered before using them. One of those issues is soil compaction. When the weight of the bed and its contents settle into the ground, it can cause the area to become compacted. This makes it difficult for roots to penetrate through, as well as reduces the airflow and water-holding capacity of the soil.

Here are some potential issues caused by soil compaction:

  • Reduced root growth and nutrient uptake.
  • Poor aeration leads to anaerobic conditions in wet weather.
  • Slower drainage results in standing water or soggy areas.
  • Unstable structure due to lack of support from surrounding soils.

Plant stress, brought on by any of these issues, can reduce a plant’s development rate or even cause its death if it is not addressed. To avoid this, it’s preferable to construct raised beds out of lighter materials, like wood, rather than heavier ones, like metal. If you go with a metal bed, give yourself some breathing room by keeping some distance from the floor. Composted organic materials, such as mulch, can help plants get more of the nutrients they need while also assisting in drainage issues.

9. Poor Drainage

Rising above the soil, metal raised garden beds can give a sense of grandeur. Unfortunately, this elevation comes with its own set of drawbacks. Poor drainage is one major disadvantage that must be considered when selecting material for raised bed construction.

The first issue to consider is water retention and saturation. When the soil in a raised bed becomes overly saturated, it creates an environment where oxygen cannot penetrate as easily as in non-raised beds. This prevents nutrients from being absorbed into the root system and leads to unhealthy plant growth or even death due to root rot. Additionally, standing water causes an increase in pests such as mosquitos and slugs which can lead to further damage to plants by feeding off their leaves or stems.

The second problem is that metals are not permeable materials; therefore, they do not allow for much water movement within them either horizontally or vertically through the soil profile. The result is runoff on top of the beds instead of draining downwards away from the roots like would naturally happen if planted directly into the ground. This means more work for gardeners trying to keep moisture levels at the optimal range since frequent watering will be needed unless good irrigation systems have been installed beforehand.

10. Difficulty Moving Or Re-Locating

Metal raised garden beds are renowned for their durability, but this also means that they can be difficult to move or relocate. Generally speaking, these structures are much heavier than other types of raised beds and require multiple people to manually lift them from one place to another. You may also need to provide additional support if you plan on carrying the bed very far; otherwise, its weight could cause it to break apart in transit. Even worse, attempting to carry the bed incorrectly could result in injury due to its sheer mass.

Another potential issue is that metal beds do not lend themselves well to certain terrains. If your soil is too soft, the bed will sink instead of staying level with the ground as it should. This can make it impossible to move without damaging both the bed and the surrounding area, leaving you with no option except to dismantle it completely before transporting it elsewhere.

In some cases, even when a metal raised garden bed has been properly installed, moving or re-locating it turns into an arduous task that requires more time and energy than expected. For this reason, homeowners must consider all factors carefully before investing in one of these structures – especially if a movement of any kind might be necessary down the line. With careful planning and assistance from others as needed, however, such issues can often be avoided altogether.

11. Potential For Injury

Raised garden beds have their advantages, but they also come with drawbacks. One such downside is the potential for injury when working with metal raised beds. While these beds are durable and can last a long time, they may be sharp in some places, making them dangerous to use without proper safety precautions. Furthermore, due to the weight of these materials, it can be difficult to move around or lift the bed when needed.

The dangers do not end there: Due to their elevated height, any tools used near a metal raised bed must be secured properly to avoid accidents like falls or slips while gardening. Additionally, during hot summer months, the temperature of metal surfaces can become quite high – so much so that contact burns could occur if bare skin comes into contact with the material.

These risks should not deter one from using a metal raised bed; rather, they should serve as an important reminder that taking safety measures and being aware of possible hazards is key when engaging in this kind of activity.

12. Limited Plant Variety Options

Metal raised garden beds have their drawbacks, one of which is the limited plant variety options. The gardens are typically small, and their size and shape can limit what kinds of plants they are able to accommodate.

  • Plants with long root systems cannot be easily grown due to lack of space or soil depth in metal raised garden beds.
  • Climbing vines may not have enough support since many metal frames don’t have a trellis included.
  • Metal can also increase the temperature around the plants, making it difficult for some species to grow healthily without extra protection from direct sunlight.
  • Depending on where you live, there may be restrictions on what types of materials you can use in your gardening projects- meaning that certain metals could be prohibited from being used in your area if they contain lead or other toxins.
  • Some vegetables require more room than what’s available in a typical metal frame, limiting how much produce you’ll be able to harvest come harvest time.

The limitations posed by metal raised garden beds can mean that only certain types of plants will thrive within them; this means fewer choices when deciding what type of vegetation should occupy each bed. If having as much diversity as possible is important to you in a vegetable garden, then opting for something like wood or plastic might be better suited for your needs instead.


So, in conclusion, metal is an excellent choice of material for a raised garden bed; they look great, last longer, and don’t require long-term maintenance. They can even work out less expensive than wood because they don’t have to be replaced so often and you don’t have to spend money on paint or oil.

Metal can rust, but providing you choose quality galvanized material, you shouldn’t have any problems, especially if you buy ready-made beds with a guarantee.