The Q&A Archives: Using Plastic for Containment

Question: I am interested in making raised beds for vegetables, but I'm concerned about using treated lumber. Is using untreated lumber (i.e. 2x10's) an alternative? Or could I use treated lumber and staple 6 mm plastic on the inside to keep chemicals from leaching? I am also thinking of covering the bed with black 6 mm plastic to keep weeds down (with drip tape underneath for irrigation). Will this pose a soil problem with regard to mold? The alternative is to use Weed-ex but I'm trying to prevent water from going into soil, so I can control and monitor it with the drip system. Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help. Brian Ciochetti Chapel Hill, NC

Answer: A raised bed for vegetables is a great idea. Using untreated wood that is naturallu rot resistant would be a way to get a longer life out of the bed. Cedar and hemlock are two good choices. Using treated wood may be dangerous. The jury is still out on that one, but as you say, by lining the inside of the raised bed with plastic, you'll reduce the risk of exposure from any leaching chemicals. The plastic shouldn't pose a miold problem as long as the soil is well drained and you don't over water. Adrip system is a good way to concentrate the water to the areas that need it..

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