building raised beds - Knowledgebase Question

Parma, Oh
Question by ginpatty
March 31, 2010
is using whitewood safe to use when making a raised garden bed? Or what is the best type of wood to use?

Answer from NGA
March 31, 2010


The debate is still on as to the danger of using pressure treated wood in the garden. While little leaches out of intact timbers in a garden, some gardeners prefer to avoid it. The same is true for old railroad ties. Non treated woods will decay in about 5 years but you may be able to extend the life of the wood by treating it with linseed oil. It's food grade and acceptable to organic gardeners. It's a treatment you'll need to repeat every two or three years. There are other woods that work well and resist decay, but may be very expensive. These include cedar, redwood and cypress. Another option if you want to use treated wood, is to line the bed walls with a thick plastic sheeting to prevent the roots and soil from contacting the treated wood. Other materials you might use to build a raised bed include cinder blocks, decorative stone, and preformed retaining wall stones. Or, you could just use a non-bordered raised bed and count on doing some occasional work to keep them maintained as erosion wears down the sides.

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