The Q&A Archives: Treated Wood for Vegetable Beds

Question: My husband wants to make raised beds in our vegetable garden, and plans to use treated landscape timbers to for the walls. Don't treated timbers contain arsenic? Is is safe to use them to make a raised bed?

Answer: There are two sides to the story concerning the safety of pressure treated wood in gardens. One says they are safe, citing studies showing little or no leaching of arsenic for years. The other side has its own studies and says it does leach at dangerous levels. So, I err on the cautious side and recommend gardeners not use pressure treated wood, especially for food plants. Try cedar, redwood, hemlock, plastic wood or cement blocks as alternatives. If you already have the wood in place, line the inside with plastic to reduce the risk of the chemicals leaching into the soil.

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