A garden bed liner is a fabric or material installed in a garden bed during construction to contain gardening soil and prevent it from washing out and creating a mess.
Liners are usually installed when constructing raised garden beds. They are also installed when setting beds on lawns.
In this post, you will learn all you need to know about garden bed liners including their advantages and disadvantages and the non-toxic garden bed liners currently available on the market.
What are the advantages of using a garden bed liner?
People install garden bed liners for five key reasons. First, they install them to contain soil in raised garden beds. Some garden beds cannot contain soil on their own, so a liner must be installed to hold the soil and prevent it from leaving the garden beds.
Second, people install garden bed liners to insulate outdoor soil from frequent temperature fluctuations. In places where night and day ground temperatures vary significantly, garden bed liners are frequently used to separate garden beds from the ground and ensure temperature stability. This is important especially in places that experience extreme nighttime cold.
Third, people install garden bed liners to keep pests out. Raised garden beds are preferred to non-raised ones because they are out of the reach of many pests. However, when they are not separate from the ground below by the use of a good liner, they can be attacked from beneath by digging garden pests such as gophers and moles. For this reason, people use garden bed liners to enhance their raised garden beds.
Fourth, people install garden bed liners to prevent chemicals from reaching their vegetables. Garden beds are usually made using wood panels that are often untreated. This means that chemicals in the untreated wood can leak into the soil and get into the food. So to protect garden soil and vegetables from leaking chemicals, people line their garden beds with protective material.
Lastly, people install garden bed liners to prevent weed seeds in the ground from growing into their garden beds and affecting their vegetables, flowers, or exotic plants.
What are the disadvantages of garden bed liners?
Just like many things in life, garden bed liners have both pros and cons. You already know the pros, the cons are two in number. First, most garden bed liners affect drainage. This is because most of them are made of some sort of plastic.
And plastic, as we all know, is not a very water-permeable material. It can keep garden soil moist for longer and it can lead to water-logging. Waterlogging, in turn, can lead to the rotting of roots, which is often irreversible. With all the above said, it is important to note that there are garden bed liners that are more permeable than plastic liners.
Second, most garden liners can be damaged easily through digging. For instance, when harvesting underground vegetables or digging up old plants, you can easily damage a garden liner making it less effective.
Common garden bed liner options
There are several types of materials utilized as garden bed liners. All the materials have their advantages and disadvantages. Below are the most popular ones.
- Landscape fabric. Landscape fabric is a fabric made of plastic that is designed to kill weeds by preventing sunlight from getting to them. It is sold in many garden supply shops. Landscape fabric can be utilized as a liner because it can hold soil and it is somewhat permeable so it does not interfere significantly with normal water drainage.
- Canvas. Canvas is normally made of hemp, linen, cotton, or plastic. It can be used as a grow bag or a lining. The best thing about canvas is its durability. It can serve you for a very long time. Canvas is also water-permeable. This means it does not significantly impact water drainage.
- Plastic. Various plastics including old pool covers, tarps, and so on, are normally cut and repurposed as garden liners. Some new garden liners are also made of plastics such as polypropylene. Generally, plastics do not allow normal water drainage because they are not permeable. However, polypropylene is a special plastic that is more permeable than most plastics.
- Hardware cloth. This is made of metal and can be found in most hardware centers. Those who use hardware cloth as a liner, usually do so to prevent moles and gophers from digging into their garden beds from below. Because hardware cloth cannot retain or hold soil on its own, it is often used with a piece of landscape fabric or a canvas.
- Cardboard. Special cardboard boxes are usually sold as kits to be installed as garden bed liners. The only problem with them is that they can decompose relatively quickly compared to other types of liners.
What garden bed liners are considered toxic?
There are many types of garden bed liners as you have seen above. However, not all of them are 100% safe for use in garden beds, especially in vegetable/ food garden beds.
Generally, it is a known fact that all plastic things leach chemicals such as phthalates into the ground, and most of the chemicals are toxic. Some plastics leach toxic chemicals more readily than others. Therefore, it is not advisable to grow food in a plastic garden bed liner if you do not want toxic chemicals to get into your food or the soil. In other words, plastic garden bed liners are toxic bed liners, which you should not use if you want to create a safe food garden.
Some other materials including hardware cloth, metal boxes, and unclean wood panels can also leach chemicals into the soil and into the food you are growing making it unsafe. The chemicals can also get into the ground killing beneficial micro-organisms and harming the environment.
The best non-toxic garden bed liners
Now that you know all the important facts about garden bed liners, it is time to discover the best non-toxic garden bed liner options.
This grow bag can be used as a liner to grow vegetables and/or flowers.
The best thing about this garden bed grow bag and the number one reason why it has been included here in this list is the fact that it is made of a non-toxic fabric. In other words, it is made from a material that does not leach chemicals into the soil and the food. So if you want to grow safe food for yourself and your family, it is a grow bag/liner that you should strongly consider.
The second best thing about this bag is that it is massive. It has multiple 17-gallon compartments that allow you to grow various types of vegetables on it. So if you are serious about gardening, it can help you to start a great mini-garden.
What is also amazing about it is that it is a grow bag. This means you can use it to set up a garden on any type of surface including a paved surface, a balcony, a rooftop, and even a yard with too many rocks.
This too is a great bed for gardening and vegetable growing because it is big and non-toxic. It is non-toxic because it is made of a fabric that does not leak chemicals into the ground like plastic liners.
Since this material is practically a grow bag, you do not need to even build a raised bed to use it. You simply need a platform to set it on (or simply set it on the ground) and you will have yourself a great growing garden.
This fabric is also non-toxic. It is perfect for growing vegetables because of three main reasons. First, it is made of a fabric that does not leak into plants.
Second, the fabric is tough enough to make it durable and long-lasting. You can use it for numerous growing seasons. Lastly, it is made in such a way to ensure proper aeration of soil which is great for water/ nutrient movement and root health.