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?
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.
- 1 The Pros of Using Metal For Raised Beds
- 2 The Cons of Using Metal For Raised Beds
- 3 Conclusion
The Pros of Using Metal For Raised Beds
Let’s start with the pros on why metal makes a good material for either homemade or ready-made garden raised beds:
1 – 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.
2 – 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.
3 – 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.
4 – Metal Beds 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.
5 – Metal Raised Beds Look Great
Although wood beds look nice, they can fade and deteriorate over time, making them look a little tired.
In comparison, metal beds are on-trend at the moment, especially corrugated metal that can look really good in either a traditional or a contemporary-style garden.
You can buy ready-made metal beds in various shapes, sizes, and depths depending on the space you have, and they’re often available in various colors that help to enhance their contemporary look.
The Cons of Using Metal For Raised Beds
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 to 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 check 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.
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.