Garden Box DIY Projects: If You Build it, They Will Grow: Important: Do not use pressure treated lumber for your garden box...

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Name: Phillip williams
(Zone 7b)
Jun 3, 2017 11:00 AM CST
I must take exception to this statement. I see it repeated over and over by well-meaning people who do not understand the basic science behind the statement. At one time it was possible that handling arsenic-treated lumber could be detrimental. However, CCA treated lumber has been prohibited in the US since 2004. The EPA banned the use of this treatment, not because there was any evidence of dangerous levels of arsenic leaching from the lumber, but because it was felt that any reduction in the use of arsenic was desirable. (I agree) The use of Cr and Cu continues but does not represent any danger in raised beds for at least two reasons. The first is that the leaching of significant amounts of Cr and/or Cu does not occur under normal circumstances. The second is that even if excessive levels of Cr or Cu were present in consumed plants humans can easily tolerate large doses of both elements and readily excrete any excess. Indeed, copper is one of the few chemicals approved for organic pest control. In short, the previous admonitions about the use of treated lumber for raised beds no longer apply. People are, of course, welcome to do anything they please when they garden, but avoiding treated lumber is no longer an issue.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Jun 3, 2017 3:42 PM CST
Thank you for pointing that out, Phillip. I've built many raised beds over the years and for most of those years steered people away from CCA treated wood. When it was finally done away with and replaced with copper treatment I felt it was safe for my customers to go with the newer treated lumber. After all, we've been getting water thru copper lines for decades with no ill effects, eh?

Jordan, nice article with good tips. And yes, redwood, if affordable, is a great way to go. And for those of you who prefer untreated lumber (pine, spruce, etc) expect a life span of 6 to 8 yrs IF you keep weeds away from the sides so the lumber can dry out.

Looking forward to your next article, Jordon.
Shoe (off to weed his boxed beds)
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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Jun 3, 2017 6:10 PM CST
I agree that the new pressure treated lumber is more friendly. Can't imagine why the current 2017 article continues the misinformation.

The article in question dated 2017 disagrees with an article published here on this site back in 2008.
Thumb of 2017-06-03/greene/dc09a4

There is a lot of current information, test results, expert opinions. Here is one example.

And scroll down to see what YellaWood has to say.

Each of us is free to choose the best material we can afford to build boxes and bed. If someone wants to use expensive redwood and can afford it, fine. No problem. Some folks use concrete blocks. Yet other people think it's okay to plant food plants in Home Depot buckets that are not listed as food grade.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Phillip williams
(Zone 7b)
Jun 4, 2017 6:56 AM CST
I need to correct part of my initial post regarding the use of Cr in pressure treated lumber. According to an industry standard published in 2016, Cr is almost never used anymore. The most commonly produced treated lumber, (intended for ground contact) available to the general public, is treated with CQA. This is a copper based solution which contains a quaternary ammonium compound which has antimicrobial activity against bacteria, fungi, protozoa and enveloped viruses. Quaternary ammonium compounds are widely used in detergents, shampoos and other home products.

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