Should You Build Your Raised Garden Beds Directly on Your Lawn? An In-Depth Analysis

You want to start gardening and are thinking about putting in some raised beds. It looks like your lawn is the best choice—it’s a blank slate ready to be painted. It would be so easy to put those garden beds right on the grass, right? Not so fast.

Placing raised beds directly on top of your lawn may seem simple and budget-friendly at first. But doing so can lead to some significant problems down the road. Allow me to walk you through the pros, cons, and alternatives to learn once and for all if starting a raised bed garden right on your grass is the best approach.

The Appeal of Putting Raised Beds on Your Lawn

Let’s start with why the idea of plopping raised garden beds right on your lawn is so darn tempting

It’s Simple

Rolling the raised beds on to the grass and calling it a day does seem like the path of least resistance, especially for new gardeners. No need to clear or prep the area first. Just set the beds down and you’re ready to go, right?

If only it were that easy! While this approach may be simple at first, it causes headaches later on

It’s Cheap

Prepping your lawn properly to accept raised beds takes time, effort, and usually money for materials like gravel and landscape fabric. Skipping right to placing the raised beds can shave some dollars off your startup costs.

But don’t be fooled – just because you saved money upfront doesn’t mean you won’t pay for it later. Doing it on the cheap now often leads to very un-cheap repairs and maintenance down the road.

Your Lawn is Right There

Your lawn is likely one of the largest blank canvases in your outdoor space. The grass is neatly mowed and all ready for you to transform into a bountiful garden, seemingly with no prep needed.

Don’t put your raised beds right on the grass, even though you might want to. Before you plant, make sure the area is ready. This will pay off hugely as your garden grows.

4 Key Reasons Not to Put Raised Beds Directly on Grass

While the reasons to put raised garden beds on your lawn are temptingly simple, the list of cons is far more compelling. Here are the top 4 reasons to avoid this shortcut.

1. Wet Grass Will Lead to Rot

Ever seen how your lawn stays soggy and wet after heavy rain or watering? That moisture gets trapped between the grass and raised bed boards. This consistent moisture accelerates decay and will cause your raised bed boards to rot much faster than normal.

This is especially problematic in humid climates where grass stays wet frequently. However, even in dry areas, regular irrigation can cause the boards to become too wet.

Save your boards from untimely rot by keeping them away from direct grass contact.

2. Grass Will Creep In

You may think your lawn grass will stay neatly packed under the raised beds. But given a chance, that grass will creep right up into your garden soil.

Many common turf grasses have spreading rhizomes that can reach surprising lengths. Bermuda grass, for example, can spread nearly 3 feet horizontally!

Bottom line – grass won’t stay put. It will consume the nutrients you want directed solely to your vegetables. Stop grass invasion before it starts.

3. Maintenance Will Be Tricky

Think placing raised beds on your lawn makes mowing and other turf maintenance easier? Think again. Trying to mow, edge, and otherwise care for your lawn around raised beds is far trickier than a flat span of grass.

You’re likely to bump and scrape your raised beds with the mower or trimmer. This damages your investment in those lovely garden boxes. Spare yourself the frustration by separating your grass and garden into distinct zones.

4. It’s Hard to Level Raised Beds on Uneven Lawns

Your lawn may look pleasingly flat, but it’s unlikely perfectly level. Hidden dips, valleys, and bumps will become obvious once you set raised beds on top.

You may end up wasting time and effort trying to stabilize beds on uneven ground with bricks and other tricks. Far better to remove grass and level the garden area from the start.

Alternatives to Putting Raised Beds Directly on Grass

Now that we’ve explored the drawbacks, what are your alternatives to placing raised beds right on your lawn?

Remove the Grass

The best approach is to remove the grass and start fresh in your new garden space. Follow these steps:

  • Mark the garden layout with stakes and twine.

  • Remove all grass inside the garden space with a sod cutter or shovel.

  • Till the soil, rake smooth, and level the garden plot.

  • Cover with cardboard and top with mulch or gravel to suppress weeds.

This gives you a blank slate on which to install raised beds on perfectly level ground.

Lay Down Landscape Fabric

Another option is to leave the grass in place but separate it from the raised beds using landscape fabric:

  • Mow the lawn very short where beds will go.

  • Water thoroughly to prevent dormant seeds from sprouting later.

  • Cover the lawn with cardboard or multiple layers of newspaper to smother grass.

  • Top with landscape fabric secured with staples or soil.

  • Cut X’s where the raised beds will sit so grass can’t sneak through.

The fabric acts as an impenetrable weed barrier to keep your garden weed-free.

Make a Gravel Base

For the best weed prevention, remove grass then add a 3-4 inch gravel base before installing raised beds:

  • Dig up and remove grass in the garden area.

  • Level the soil and tamp down firmly.

  • Cover with landscape fabric to block weeds.

  • Top with a generous layer of gravel, pea gravel, or crushed stone.

  • Place your raised beds directly onto the gravel.

The gravel also enhances drainage under the beds.

Key Tips for Raised Garden Beds on Grass

If you simply can’t remove the existing grass first, follow these tips to give your raised beds the best chance of thriving:

  • Raise beds at least 6 inches above grass for airflow.

  • Line the bottom of beds with hardware cloth to block grass and weed growth.

  • Cut back surrounding grass very short to keep it from shading beds.

  • Mulch beds well each year to conserve moisture so grass stays dormant.

  • Check under and around beds routinely for creeping grass. Pull out invaders promptly.

Again, removing grass entirely is highly recommended. But these tips will help if you must place beds directly onto your lawn.

Ready to Build Your Raised Bed Garden?

Taking time to remove grass and prep your garden site will pay off for many years to come. Your plants will thrive, maintenance will be easier, and your garden will look cohesive and polished.

If you need help getting your new raised bed kitchen garden up and running, I’d be glad to assist. From layout help to soil guidance and more, I can lend a hand designing your ideal garden. Just drop me a line to get started!

Whatever approach you choose, I wish you the best of luck and many bountiful harvests with your new raised bed vegetable garden. May your beds bring you joy, satisfaction, and beautiful plants. Happy gardening!

The Internet Lost It’s Mind When I Placed Raised Beds Directly on Grass


Can you put a raised garden bed over grass?

Raised beds can be set up directly on lawn with little or no preparation. Beds 11 inches and taller are generally deep enough to smother buried grass before it can reach the surface. All that is needed, in this case, is to level the ground before setting up the planter.

Can you start a garden on top of grass?

Removing the top layer of sod can speed up the process of planting a little sooner, but it’s unnecessary. Instead, you can start adding your layers right on top of the grass.

Should you remove grass before starting a garden?

The first step to creating any new garden bed in your lawn is to remove the existing sod. There are several methods you can take to remove the turfgrass, and each has its advantages and limitations. Which method you choose depends on the time it takes, the amount of work required, and your personal preferences.

What to put in the bottom of a raised garden bed?

We recommend buying high-quality, nutrient-rich soil in bulk. Or, you can make a soil mix with equal parts topsoil, organic materials (leaves, composted manure, ground bark), and coarse sand.

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