The definition of soil nowadays, especially in terms of gardening, has become so broad. Depending on your gardening setup and need, determining the right type (or mixture) can be a challenge. And if you are one of those folks who have always been a fan of raised bed or container gardening or just planning to try it, raised bed soil is your best comrade for such a purpose.

According to Gary Pilarchik of The Rusted Garden channel, raised bed soil sits between garden soil and potting mix. It offers the right set of recipes, nutrients, and qualities of soil for raised bed gardening. It is also perfect for container gardening and can be directly poured into a raised bed situated on the soil.

Raised bed soil sits between garden soil and potting mix.

Gary Pilarchik

The Rusted Garden

Raised bed soil provides the best drainage for plants in a raised bed. Gardeners often have better experience in keeping the soil loose. It is important, especially that too much water in a container or raised bed can affect the quality of the soil and the growth of plants. This also translates to improved airflow in the soil and nutrient delivery which are a necessity among the roots of plants. The pH of this kind of soil is also balanced which is between 5.8 and 7.5. This range is perfect enough to foster vegetables and flowers in an enclosed setting.

Despite having this “ready-to-use” soil, you can still be creative and use it to make your own personal mixture. As a matter of fact, it is best to add more nutrients to bagged soil like this to assure the survival and prosperity of plants. This is very much needed, especially if you are planning to grow vegetables in a raised bed. They need a lot of nutrients and can easily deplete the nutrients in the soil, so the application of fertilizer to the soil after a couple of weeks is suggested.

Nonetheless, most raised bed soil contains numerous components which are beneficial already. Each brand offers different blends of ingredients, of course. For instance, Black Gold SUGRBG16QT comes with earthworm castings, perlite, pumice, and organic fertilizers.

These additives play a vital role in the growth of plants. Besides affecting the moisture and aeration in the soil, they also influence the fertility of plants. Some of these additives that you can find in raised bed soil include perlite, mushroom compost, calcium carbonate, hay, vermiculite, worm castings, rice hulls, lava cinders, coconut coir, manure, leaves, forest products, azomite, sphagnum peat moss, organic fertilizers, and a lot more.

With all that, is there a perfect mixture of raised bed soil? Well, it depends on a lot of factors including the plant you are planning to cultivate. Different plants have different needs for nutrients, so it is all about finding the best raised bed soil that will suit your gardening needs.

To help you get a better view of the best raised bed soil available and their major contents and nutritional benefits for plants, we rounded up the five best options for you. Together with some personal insights, we highlighted their best qualities which can guide you in selecting which one you should purchase.

Best Raised Bed Soil Comparison & Rating

Raised Bed Soil

Features

FoxFarm Ocean Forest FX14000 -1.5 Cubic Foot Organic Potting Soil
  • 38.6 quarts of soil
  • pH adjusted (6.3 to 6.8)
  • earthworm castings and bat guano
Black Gold SUGRBG16QT 1402040.Q16U Qt U 16 Quart All Organic Potting Soil
  • 16 quarts
  • no chemical scent at all
  • organic matter, microbes, and nutrients
FoxFarm FX14054 Happy Frog Potting Soil, 12 Quart
  • 12 quarts of premium soil
  • all-purpose soil
  • 50-60% aged forest products, sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and fertilizer
Miracle-Gro Raised Bed Soil, 1.5 cu. ft.
  • 42.47 L
  • no harsh smell 
  • well-balanced water retention, aeration, and drainage
Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix 0.33 Cu Ft
  • Comes in a 16-quart bag
  • feeds plants for up to 6 months
  • holds up to 50% more water

1. FoxFarm Ocean Forest FX14000 Organic Soil

FoxFarm Ocean Forest FX14000 -1.5 Cubic Foot Organic Potting Soil
Specifications:
98% Overall

Brand

FoxFarm

Content Amount

38.6 quarts

Fertility Additives

earthworm castings, bat guano, and Pacific Northwest sea-going fish and crab meal

Aeration and Moisture Additives

forest humus, sandy loam, and sphagnum peat moss

98%
quality
98%
ingredients & nutrients
98%
ease of use
98%
value for money
Pros:
  • Comes with a total of 38.6 quarts of soil.
  • The pH adjusted (6.3 to 6.8).
  • Uses earthworm castings and bat guano as one of the active ingredients.
  • Ready to be used right after opening the pack.
  • Great texture and consistency.
Cons:
  • Slightly pricey but offers the best set of ingredients and great amount of soil.
Final Take:

FoxFarm Ocean Forest FX14000 Organic Soil focuses on the branch growth of plants. This explains why it contains a lot of ingredients that aim to provide the very best kind of nutrients for plant growth. This includes earthworm castings, which are great for moisture retention and fertility; bat guano, a compost activator and natural fungicide controlling nematodes in the soil; and Pacific Northwest sea-going fish and crab meal, which are natural fertilizers.

Furthermore, this lets plants obtain a continuous healthy growth habit, whether they are in pots or raised bed gardens. This is possible through the right level of pH that allows optimum fertilizer uptake.

Its texture is somewhat light and aerated, thanks to forest humus, sandy loam, and sphagnum peat moss included in the mix. That said, great breathing process for plant roots and excellent water drainage. Most of all, it offers complete nutrients in a single bag!

2. Black Gold SUGRBG16QT Organic Soil

Black Gold SUGRBG16QT 1402040.Q16U Qt U 16 Quart All Organic Potting Soil
Specifications:
98% Overall

Brand

Black Gold

Content Amount

16 quarts

Fertility Additives

compost

Aeration and Moisture Additives

sphagnum peat moss, perlite, pumice,  and finely ground forest products

98%
quality
98%
ingredients & nutrients
98%
ease of use
97%
value for money
Pros:
  • Ideal for container-grown flowers, herbs, and vegetables.
  • Comes in a 16-quart bag.
  • Combines the benefits of organic matter, microbes, and nutrients.
  • Clean and fresh soil smell; no chemical scent at all.
  • Listed and reviewed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
  • Holds moisture really well.
Cons:
  • It can somehow attract bugs, especially under specific temperatures favorable for insects.
Final Take:

One of the most versatile soils on the list is this Black Gold SUGRBG16QT. It can be used both for vegetables situated in a raised bed and can also function as potting soil. Besides being considered organic by OMRI, it comes with various components that assure a long-lasting source of nutrients for plants.

This soil hits two birds with one stone by using the right set of ingredients that will promote nutrients in plants and proper drainage in the soil. Instead of woody material that is often tagged as a low source of nutrients, it is using organic matter and drainage enhancers such as sphagnum peat moss, compost, coarse perlite, pumice, and finely ground forest products.

There are also screened worm castings in the soil which is known for their biological benefits. This includes the minerals and micronutrients that edible plants need the most. Most of all, unlike other raised bed soil options, it lasts longer which could be more than a year or two.

3. FoxFarm FX14054 Happy Frog Soil

FoxFarm FX14054 Happy Frog Potting Soil, 12 Quart
Specifications:
97% Overall

Brand

FoxFarm

Content Amount

12 quarts

Fertility Additives

fertilizer

Aeration and Moisture Additives

aged forest products, sphagnum peat moss, and perlite

97%
quality
98%
ingredients & nutrients
97%
ease of use
96%
value for money
Pros:
  • Adjusted pH for the specific needs of plants.
  • Light in texture and great aeration.
  • An all-purpose soil that fits different gardening needs.
  • Good for both indoor and outdoor containers or raised beds.
  • Contains 12 quarts of premium soil.
Cons:
  • Expensive for a 12-quart of soil. Nonetheless, nutrition-packed and undoubtedly quality soil.
Final Take:

FoxFarm FX14054 Happy Frog Soil secures the growth of plants in a contained setting, which makes it one of the best options for delicate indoor plants. It has all the special ingredients it needs that serve as catalysts for plant growth which include 50-60% aged forest products, sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and fertilizer. The mixture of these additives results in excellent drainage since the aged forest products and sphagnum peat moss hold water really well while the perlite improves drainage.

It is also backed with nitrogen, phosphate, calcium, and more which are all obtained from earthworm castings, bat guano, oyster shell, and dolomite lime. Nonetheless, what we really loved about it during our inspection is the integration of a mix of microbes with mycorrhizal fungi and sediment. This is responsible for steady root development and expansion. Therefore, this will result in the 100% growth and survival of plants.

4. Miracle-Gro Raised Bed Soil

Miracle-Gro Raised Bed Soil, 1.5 cu. ft.
Specifications:
96% Overall

Brand

Miracle-Gro

Content Amount

1.5 cubic feet

Fertility Additives

alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, earthworm castings, plant material compost, and poultry manure

Aeration and Moisture Additives

processed forest products, sphagnum peat moss, softwood bark, and processed softwood bark

97%
quality
97%
ingredients & nutrients
96%
ease of use
95%
value for money
Pros:
  • Boasts of 100 percent organic mix formula.
  • Pre-mixed blend that is ready to use.
  • Great drainage property.
  • Organic Materials Review Institute-listed, giving you further assurance of its efficiency.
  • No mixing required.
Cons:
  • It delivers less apparent effects on other plants. Nonetheless, other factors can contribute to its effect.
  • Only ideal up to 3 months.
Final Take:

With 1.5 cubic feet of soil, it can cover the entire raised bed soil you have. With this, you’re going to save more than buying regular soil and other mixes needed. You can use it for any kind of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs.

You can expect faster growth earlier than you would expect and it has just the right amount of consistency: not too tight and not too loose. Most of all, no harsh smell compared to other brands out there. There is almost no need for additional fertilizer, but if you want optimum results, you can always opt for organic fertilizers and manure.

It also has a lot of nutrients and can deliver continuous growth in plants for up to 3 months. It contains processed forest products, alfalfa meal, sphagnum peat moss, bone meal, kelp meal, earthworm castings, softwood bark, plant material compost, processed softwood bark, poultry manure, and processed wood products. However, it is important to note that the inclusion of the ingredients mentioned depends on the state (California, New Hampshire, Texas, and Georgia) where the product is purchased or manufactured.

Overall, everything about it is well-balanced: water retention, aeration, and drainage. When watered, the soil remained moist, yet not too compact to allow easy cultivation. During observation, it also didn’t show any presence of weed growth.

5. Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Planting Mix

Miracle-Gro Expand 'n Gro Concentrated Planting Mix 0.33 Cu Ft
Specifications:
95% Overall

Brand

Miracle-Gro

Content Amount

16 quarts

Fertility Additives

poultry litter

Aeration and Moisture Additives

compressed coir pith

96%
quality
95%
ingredients & nutrients
94%
ease of use
95%
value for money
Pros:
  • Can serve as a good substitute for garden soil or potting mix.
  • Fits in-ground and container gardening.
  • Contains compressed coir and fertilizer.
  • Produces 90 percent more air space for plant roots.
  • Can hold 50 percent more water than the regular potting soil in the market.
  • Comes in a 16-quart bag.
Cons:
  • Only ideal for a maximum of six months.
  • Needs stirring and takes 10 minutes for the soil to expand.
Final Take:

This is an outstanding soil that is comparatively better than most soil available. Not only it can retain water at just the right rate, but it can also expand three times when watered appropriately. This allows better aeration for roots due to the abundant air space it creates during the expansion process. This also allows it to grow plants three times bigger than the expected size. It also contains compressed coir pith and poultry litter, assuring great drainage and nutrient supply for plants. 

Moreover, although this soil requires mixing and watering before putting your plants in, the process is very simple and straightforward. Most of all, you’ll get a favorable result and it can keep on nourishing your plants for almost half a year. That said, if you have a raised bed garden in your yard or a vertical garden inside the house, better get this. This will certainly help your plants strive in whatever kind of environment.

Best Raised Bed Soil -  Buyer's Guide

amount

Always determine the amount of soil you need for your gardening activities. Every brand comes in a variety of soil amounts so if you have a big gardening project that you need to address, better have the one that has a sufficient amount of soil. Nonetheless, there are also raised bed soils that have expansion properties. With the right amount of water and proper stirring, they can expand at least twice their mass.

nutrients and ingredients

They are important as they will determine whether your plants will have prosperous growth or not. The ingredients also help to produce the properties that need to be present in quality soil. It includes water retention, expansion, aeration, and proper texture. Keep in mind that different plants have different demands in nutrients. So, make sure to do a little research and determine whether these ingredients will suit the needs of the plants you are about to grow.

application

It is better if the soil you are going to purchase could handle all kinds of settings: raised beds and containers or pots. This will prevent you from further unnecessary purchases of other garden soil or mixes. Also, better opt for soil that is ready to use. This saves you time and effort compared to soil brands that need a series of preparation before use.

price

Before getting the soil brand of your choice, make sure that your purchase has the best value for the price you are going to pay. So, besides the price, check for the features and properties of the soil, as they add up to the value of your purchase and make the price of the purchase more reasonable.

Best Raised Bed Soil - FAQs

Is raised bed soil worth it?

Yes, it is. The right raised bed soil can aid in plant growth due to its helpful properties. It includes water retention and aeration. They also ensure that there is the right amount of microorganisms in the soil that improves plant health and your overall control over the garden. Most of all, the right raised bed soil promotes faster and continuous growth among plants which translates to a better harvest.

Can I use raised bed soil alone in my gardening projects?

Raised bed soil is specifically formulated as a stand-alone soil mix. You can put it in a raised bed located on top of the soil or directly pour it into a large container and pots. Most of them are mixed with all the necessary nutrients that the plant needs and they help establish a favorable setting for your plants.

Can I mix compost to raised bed soil?

Yes, you can mix it as additional support for the raised bed soil. It also helps improves the quality of the soil by helping it to retain water for a longer period of time and it gives the soil a better structure. Most of all, it produces nutrients in the soil that improves plant growth better.

Author

Jessie is a landscape artist famous among folks in Los Angeles who are obsessed with keeping their lawns pristine and divine. He worked for BrightView Holdings, Inc. back in 2015 and now owns a brick-and-mortar business that offers all kinds of gardening tools and machines. Ask him all you need to know about your mower or your fertilizer, and he will answer you while sipping a cup of coffee.