HGTV's Matt Blashaw's top tip for newbie gardeners – it's got style and substance

The Yard Crashers star shares an easy strategy for ensuring flowers and veggies thrive, and add plenty of beauty to your backyard while doing it.

raised beds in a small patio garden, Bloom 2010
(Image credit: Ros Drinkwater / Alamy Stock Photo)

When you think about raised planters, what comes to mind? Is it a large backyard with a veggie patch? HGTV's Matt Blashaw says that if you have a small garden, then rethinking the purpose of raised garden beds is a very good idea. We've recently interviewed Matt about small garden ideas and he had some very intriguing things to say about the role of raised planters in styling a small outdoor space. 

Raised planters – perfect for beginners

raised bed with water basin

(Image credit: Imagebroker / Alamy Stock Photo)

Firstly, though, Matt, who is a licensed contractor and experienced home remodeler*, said that a raised planter is a good idea in any garden, full stop – because they give you so much control over the health of your plants. 

'Sometimes when we plant plants straight into the ground, we have no idea what the soil is. You can get your soil tested – a lot of people don't know they can do that – but if you don't know what soil you're planting your plant in, it may not survive,' he explains.

Being able to control that soil by filling in a raised planter pretty much guarantees you success. In a small garden, where gardening mistakes and unhealthy plants show that much more, this is a big deal. 

There's more to a raised planter than functionality

'Take some Thyme' show garden by Down 2 Earth Garden Design at Harrogate Spring Flower Show 2019

(Image credit: Matthew Taylor / Alamy Stock Photo)

But did you ever realize that you can style your raised beds in a way that will make them more of a garden landscaping idea or even garden sculpture rather than just a functional container? Matt says he likes working with raised planters because 'they add some height to your garden.'

'I've actually done sculptural designs with different sizes [of raised beds],' he says.

His top tip for making your raised beds look cool is to mix and match different sizes and heights: put 'the bigger one at the back, the smaller one at the front, and then even a smaller one to the side. So we're kind of creating this cool little terraced level.'

This method works equally well whether you're growing flowers or vegetables. In fact, according to Matt, if you have a small garden and want to grow veggies, you should consider placing your raised beds in a central position in your outdoor space rather than learning how to create a kitchen garden that's separate from everything else. 

Positioning your vegetable-raised planters in the center means that 'you can clad them in really cool wood, or even stone, and have this really cool sculptural feature that gives you levels in your backyard.' 

We really like this idea – adding height is one of the best ways to visually enhance a small garden, and why not do it with your raised planters, if they've been beautifully finished in high-quality natural wood?

*Our interview with Matt was kindly arranged by his partners at Spectracide lawn and garden products.

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is Consumer Editor across Future's home brands. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor, consumer rights, and gardening.