pressure treated lumber safety - Knowledgebase Question

seabrook, Ne
Question by cmb1bird
April 16, 2010
is it safe to use pressure treated lumber in my vegatable garden? I wanted to build a large frame for a wire fence, with a gate, as well as section off the veggies with the lumber...i find a lot of conflicting info on the saftey of the lumber.


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Answer from NGA
April 16, 2010

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There are two sides to the story concerning the safety of pressure treated wood in gardens. One says such products are safe, and cites studies showing little or no leaching of arsenate for years. The other side has it's own studies and says heavy metals and toxins do 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 and want to use it, line the inside of the planter with plastic to reduce the risk of the chemicals leaching into the soil, then fill with the topsoil of your choice. I'd go a step further and not plant root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes or radishes close to the edges of the beds. Above-ground veggies should be just fine. So as not to waste space, I plant sturdy annuals such as marigolds along the edges of my raised beds - it's attractive and will sometimes keep insects at bay. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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