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Raised Rows vs Flat Rows Gardening: The Pros and Cons

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Both raised and flat rows have their own pros and cons. However, which one is more suitable for you depends on your plants, weather conditions, and garden space. 

Raised row gardening allows increased root development compared to flat rows. It has a an even grater advantage when it comes to areas with a a higher rainfall with better drainage which promotes plant health. Flat rows requires less soil and cost effective to develop which results in faster production with less effort.

In this brief guide, we?ll share some pros and cons of both raised and flat rows so that you can consider which method is more suitable for your plants.

Should Garden Rows Be Raised?

To begin, let’s discuss exactly what a raised row is. A raised row could be defined as any row that’s raised above the soil level. 

The raised row will be higher than the surrounding ground. Raised rows help the plants to retain the moisture in the mulch. The plants that grow in raised rows develop healthy and deep roots. 

What are The Benefits of Raised Rows?

Generally, raised rows are considered a great choice for most gardeners. There are different kinds of raised rows including single rows, wide rows, and raised beds. 

Ideally, raised rows need to be about 18 inches wide. 

The best thing about raised rows is that after you build your raised rows you have to do nothing to them other than put a cover crop in every fall. There is a wide range of advantages associated with raised rows. Some of them are written below

1. Warms Up the Soil Faster:

Keeping the raised rows in your garden can help keep the soil warm so the soil warms up faster in the spring. 

2. Best For the High Rainfall Areas:

In areas where you have high amounts of precipitation, raised rows become an ideal option because it drains better. 

In areas where the rainfall is high, raised rows will work best for their crops as the raised rows barely need to run the sprinkler system on irrigation. 

In short, raised beds are ideal for gardens that suffer from flooding and need good drainage to keep the water off the crops. 

3. Watering:

The second best thing about the raised rows is that they help with watering the plants. When you water the plants, the water pours down to the flat surface and the roots need to dig down a little more to get the water. In this way, the plants will not sit in water. 

There will be a pool of water around the plants from where they can get water whenever they want.

4. Helps with Weeds:

Another pro of using raised rows in your gardens is that they help fight against weeds. You can easily pick weeds from damped raised rows. 

Raised rows leave a nice space in between rows and one can easily move around working in the garden. You can easily notice and remove any weed growth in the raised rows. 

What are The Benefits of Using Flat Rows?

Just like raised rows, using flat rows offers many advantages as well. 

Many gardeners believe that flat rows are way more convenient to grow plants as compared to raised rows. Let us discuss some of the benefits of using flat rows in your gardens. 

1. Start-up Work is Less Than The Raised Rows:

Start-up work is much less in flat rows than in the raised rows. It’s because for building raised rows in the garden, many pieces of equipment are used and take more time to prepare. 

On the other hand, you can prepare the flat rows with just one tractor machine. A rot-tiller can also be used for its preparation. 

As there is no need to build the rows using other materials in flat rows so it won’t take much time. 

2. No Need To Add New Soil:

Another pro of using flat rows in your garden is that there is no need to add new soil. When using flat rows in the garden, you don?t have to worry about buying soil for it. 

It is because you can simply use the existing soil present in your land. If you don?t add any type of amendments into the soil, the natural soil still provides you with bountiful crops. 

3. Easy To Replace:

Raised rows are permanent and cannot be replaced easily as compared to flat rows which you can replace at any time. 

You can easily grow any crop on flat rows by replacing the previous crop. It will not take much time either. In the time of bad weather, you don’t need to worry about the flat rows because they can be rebuilt easily. 

4. Economical: 

As we mentioned earlier in the article, flat rows don?t need you to buy extra soil from the market. Thus, making the flat rows more economical as compared to raised beds. 

This saved money can be used to add any amendments if required and improve the soil quality. 

For raised rows, you have to spend money on the material to build raised rows, on the machinery to be used to build the raised rows, and on the equipment to add a proper irrigation system for it.

5. Irrigation System:

If we talk about the irrigation system for raised rows, it has to be designed very carefully. It is because the raised rows are quite above the ground surface. 

However, in the case of flat rows, it is quite easy to install. The rows are present on the ground surface so a simple irrigation system would be enough.

How Do Furrowed Rows Compare?

Furrows are made for the irrigation of plants growing on the edges of it. Any type of crop can be grown in-furrow rows. Which type of row would be best for your crops depends on several things:

  • What type of soil are you working with, hard pack clay or sandy?
  • What crop are you trying to grow? 
  • How well the soil in your garden drains?
  • How quickly the soil in your garden warms up in the spring? 
  • How bad is your weed problem?
  • Are you using mulch?
  • If yes, what type of mulch are you using in your garden? 
  • How much space is available in your garden?

Pros and Cons of Raised Rows:

The pros and cons of raised rows depend on a range of different factors including how much room you have in your garden, how much your sun exposure is, what equipment you have to build rows, what and how much you are planning to grow, and most importantly, do you have any back pain issues? 

Pros Cons 
Good Drainage: Raised rows are ideal if your garden soil is clay-like or drains poorly. Thanks to raised bed height, the soil in them dries out faster than flat rows. Air can circulate more freely among plants planted in raised rows.Costly and Time-Consuming: If you are building a raised row that’s a big cost. There is a cost for the labor and material required. You need to spend a lot of your time preparing raised rows.
Fewer Weeds and Crabgrass: Raised rows are a great option to fight weeds and crabgrass. With minimal tillage and permanent paths, eventually, weed management is minimized. This makes labor on a wide cross more efficient than in rows. More Manual Work: If space is less in which you want to raise rows, it’s harder to get machinery in and out. so you are more or less having to use hand equipment and just simple manual tools to manage it. 
Avoid Contaminated Soil: Bacteria or fungi usually develop around crops. However, with raised rows, your crops can avoid any contaminated soil. Temporary: Raised beds are not made for permanent plants. If you do so you have to keep adding the soil to it.
Best For Root Crops: Raised rows are best for growing root crops such as carrots, turnips, radishes, beets because the soil in raised rows is loose, allowing root crops to grow easily.Waste a Large Amount of Space: Raised rows waste an enormous amount of space because so much is used for paths.

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