Raised bed orientation

cook2eatDecember 29, 2012

I am planning to build some raised beds for vegetable and herbs in my back yard. I read that it is best to orient the long axis of the beds east- west. If I do this my beds will lie at an angle in my yard, which seems a bit awkward. The whole area gets lots of sun. Does E-W orientation make a big enough difference to bother with? Thanks for any advice

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I always thought the recommended orientation was North - South to maximise available light. East - West would mean the North side of the beds and rows got less sun. Envisage a row of pole beans planted E-W. The sun would never shine on the North side.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 11:57AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

E/W orientation means more sun on each plant due to fewer plants shading each other.

That said, I have 3 - N/S beds and 2 - E/W beds and all seem to work just great. Of course, I'm growing on material for future bonsai projects and not veggies, but both orientations work well.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 12:27PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

'E/W orientation means more sun on each plant due to fewer plants shading each other'. That works if there is only one row of plants. With more than one row, plants in an E/W row would be shaded by those to their South, especially if they are tall or you live in a region where the sun is not very high in Summer.

That said you just have to do the best you can with your planting area. It might not be possible to follow rules.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 2:01PM
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If your yard gets any shade at all, I'd focus on getting the most sun possible. Orientation matters in greenhouses in northern latitudes if you're trying to grow in the winter - east-west is best - but I doubt it matters much to warm-season gardens. If you're going to grow both tall and short crops in the same bed, you might want the tall crop on the north side. My plots all run south-west to north-east, and I put my tomatoes on the north-west side (back) and peppers on the south-east side (front)

    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 3:13PM
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I use raised beds in my garden for planting fruit trees and planting all kinds of vegetables. I never worried about orientation The only factors which are controlling me are the available space, how much sun they will get and keep away from the shade trees. The orientation could be north South or east west who cares. In my raised beds I produce the best fruit and vegetable ever.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 2:33AM
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Thanks for the advice. I'm going to make the beds so that they fit with the yard, and not worry about orientation. I'm so looking forward to planting veggies in something bigger than a 1 x2 foot box on a balcony!
Now onto building beds and getting some good soil ready....

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 12:59PM
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I think you need to plan for veggies getting as much sun as they possible. When planting, do as jonforum said - plant the tall ones in back of your bed so they do not shade others. I always plant some lettuce behind tall pants (like tomato) so they are little shaded during hottest part of day - direct midday sun is too hot for lettuce.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 12:16PM
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Sounds like you are well on your way to joyful raised bed gardening. When reading thru these comments, made me wonder if you had considered wind orientation -- just as an aside, if you plan to grow corn, you will want to plant it so that the pollen floats between rows as it is wind pollinated.

Hope all goes well!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 7:51PM
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