Raised Garden Bed Liners: Should You Use One?

Growing flowers and vegetables in raised garden beds has become very popular. They allow easier access to plants - gardeners don't have to bend over. They are also great for gardeners who use wheelchairs.

Raised beds are great for when the soil in your yard is poor, polluted, or even non-existent. You can place them on decks, patios, concrete slabs or gravel.

Whether your raised bed is made of wood, brick, metal, stone, or recycled materials, you may be wondering if you should install a liner before adding soil. A lining is sometimes required, but not very often.

A loft bed is a container. It's like a giant flower pot or planter, but usually doesn't have a bottom. Depending on the materials it was built from and the location of the loft bed, the liner performs two services - it can put things in or it can keep things out.

The things you need to keep include soil, nutrients, and plant roots. Things to stay away from are small animals, toxins and weeds.

Reasons to Use Pads on Raised Beds

The liner remains in the soil, retaining nutrients, and keeping the roots in the bed. Roots can grow into the wood of a raised bed or into the soil below.

The liner blocks any toxins that might be in the ground or in the materials used to build the bed.

Liners can help prevent burrowing pests such as voles, moles, gophers, groundhogs and groundhogs.

The padding suppresses weeds that may grow from the ground under a raised bed, but this is only necessary if your bed is under 6 inches. In a deeper box, weeds will be smothered by all the soil that is placed on top of them.

If the soil below is contaminated, the lining prevents the plant's roots from absorbing toxins. If you've used treated wood to build your box, or you've used reclaimed wood and aren't sure what's inside, a liner can also help prevent toxins in the wood.

Liners can help regulate soil temperature and can extend your growing season by a week or two.

When your raised bed is raised or on a patio or deck, the liner keeps soil from washing away from the bottom.

Without a liner to stop them, plant roots can grow into the wood used to build the box, shortening the life of the wood.

If your bed is tall and you don't want to fill the entire bed with soil, you can put in a liner to make it shallow.

pad type

If you decide to use a pad, there are several different materials that can be used for different situations.

hardware cloth

A stiff cloth or other wire mesh will keep gophers, moles, voles, prairie dogs, and other animals that can burrow under the bed. Use stainless steel as it won't rust. Other potentially rusting meshes may have been treated with preservatives that you may not want in vegetables.

During construction, use a heavy duty nail gun to attach the mesh to the bottom of the raised box.

Hardware cloth can also be used to make a false bottom on very high raised beds. Then line it with landscape fabric to hold the soil.

Newspapers and Cardboard

Newspapers and cardboard can be placed under the bed. These materials break down quickly and will only last for one season. These materials help control weeds.

landscape fabric

Landscape fabrics (sometimes called weed mats) and canvas or burlap are suitable for raised beds above the ground on legs or on hard surfaces. When placed at the bottom, these materials remain in the soil while allowing the water to drain. These fabrics can also be used on the sides of wooden raised beds.

Burlap decomposes faster than canvas, which decomposes faster than landscape fabric.


Plastic prevents toxins from wood from entering the soil, but you shouldn't build your box with toxic materials. Plastic prevents water from escaping freely, and it inhibits oxygen. It can cause moisture to get trapped between the wood and plastic, leading to rot.

If you do hydroponics or hydroponic gardening, plastic is great to use. But plastic stops water runoff and makes the soil too wet. Too wet, poorly drained soil can overwhelm the roots of tomatoes and peppers, leading to death. Even if you punch a few holes in the bottom of the plastic, it will hinder drainage.

If you're concerned about toxins from wood migrating into the soil and harvest, you can use plastic on the sides of your raised bed. A better option is to use raw linseed oil to seal the wood.

How to Install Fabric or Plastic Backing

Remember, you don't necessarily need a liner! However, if you have any of the issues listed above, then a liner might be right for you and your garden.

what do you need:

Fabric or plastic (if you're growing vegetables, make sure it's food grade)

tape measure

Several large binder clips, C-clips, or spring clips to hold the fabric until you can staple it in place

Heavy duty staple guns and staplers

Wire cutters, if installing wire mesh

Scissors or utility knife, if installing fabric or plastic

Useful: Another set of hands, straight edge

Measure: Calculate the area of ​​all sides and bottoms (area = length x width), then add those numbers together. Add an extra 6 inches on each side.

Cut the material to the size you need. There is no need to arrange the bed in a single piece. Using smaller overlaps can make the job easier.

Fold the fabric lengthwise into thirds or halves depending on the size of the bed and place it in the middle of the bottom of the bed. Unfold the pad and pull each long edge up. Make sure the fabric is flat and has enough area to cover both sides. Make sure the bottom of the fabric is flat and smooth against the inner bottom corners.

Place a clip or two in the middle of each longer side to hold the fabric in place, smoothing as you go.

Pull up the short sides and clamp them.

Once you're happy with the placement of the material, start stapling from the center of the long side.

Move to the shorter side, staple the center, then smooth, pleat, fold the lining to the corners, and secure with staples.

Excess material can be trimmed off with scissors or a utility knife, about 2 inches from the top edge. Some gardeners like to fold the edges in for a neater look, but the plant will quickly cover any exposed lining.

After that, you can fill the container with rich garden soil and start planting!