Container gardens Vegetables

A Window Well Raised Bed

Raised beds made of window wells. Photo: Deborah McColley,

If you’re looking for a quick-to-install yet long-lasting raised bed, how about fixing two galvanized window wells together with a few nuts and bolts and filling them with soil? You’ll find there is a wide variety of lengths, widths and heights of window well and also various shapes, so you could have a rectangular bed with rounded corners if you used standard window wells or an oval bed if you used semicircular wells. 

Reader Carl Curadeau of Orford, Quebec, has 42 window-well beds He adds more every year. Photo: Carl Curadeau

Galvanized steel is covered with zinc to make it weather resistant and zinc, a natural element, doesn’t leach into surrounding soil to any degree, its use is accepted in organic gardening. That means you can grow vegetables in your window well bed without worrying about contamination. A galvanized steel bed will last for decades (the usual guarantee is 30 years, but many window wells are still functional 80 or 90 years after their installation). It will, though, eventually lose its original shiny appearance and take on a dull gray color, but won’t rust to any great degree, other than possibly the nuts and bolts.

A window well garden 12 inches (30 cm) high would be enough for most annuals and small vegetables, although 22 inches (56 cm), a standard size and therefore easy to find, would be better for root vegetables like carrots and parsnips as well as large vegetables, perennials and shrubs. Raised beds with even taller sides will require more soil, but they are easier on your back because you don’t have to bend down to reach the plants. Many people find 3 feet (90 cm), about waist height, to be very practical.

Fill ’Er Up!

Just assemble and fill with good gardening soil. Photo: Debi Fuell,

If you’ll be growing vegetables, you’ll want the best, richest soil you can get, at least for the top 12 inches (30 cm). Below, you could always fill in with cheaper grade of topsoil. Other plantings (flowers, shrubs, etc.) would be fine with ordinary topsoil at all levels.

Don’t make the mistake of filling in with gravel or other so-called “drainage materials”: they simply lead to stressful growing conditions for the plants you cultivate and why would you want that? For long-term gardening, and certainly if you might ever want to grow plants with deep roots, you’ll want soil from top to bottom.

Prepared Garden Beds

Galvanised raised beds especially designed for gardening. Photo:

Manufacturers of window wells have seen the interest in this kind of product and some now offer raised beds specifically developed for gardening, notably wider beds in a convenient array of sizes. For example, Conquest Steel in Canada offers a whole range of models.

Tree surround. Photo:

Or you may see another galvanized steel product called a tree surround (designed as edging for trees to keep lawn grasses out) that would also make a great garden bed.

Check out the prices and see. Maybe a galvanized steel raised bed is exactly what you’re looking for!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

4 comments on “A Window Well Raised Bed

  1. Pingback: Welcome June | NewEnglandGardenAndThread

  2. Pingback: Need more space | Strafford County Master Gardeners Association

  3. Ha! I was just trying to explain to a ready why I do not want raised beds in my own garden. Anyway, these are SO practical. I mean, they were made to be in the soil anyway. Horse troughs are a fad here at the moment. They are not so well drained. There are also planters that are designed to look like horse troughs, just because it is a fad. Window wells are not available directly from hardware stores here, so would need to be ordered (like so much nowadays.) Basements are not very common in California.

  4. You made my day with this post. I haven’t seen this idea, but I LOVE it. We already have galvanized stock tanks as raised beds. Thank you.

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