what kind of wood for raised garden beds

what kind of wood for raised garden beds

Raised backyard beds are the bees knees! We personally favor them to in-ground gardens, for numerous causes. Raised beds can present superior safety from pests and weeds, supply comfy ergonomics, and will be stuffed with splendid soil to develop meals, flowers, herbs and extra. Additionally they create a dynamic, attention-grabbing look within the panorama. While you hear “raised beds”, most people probably conjure up photos of wooden planter containers. Wooden actually is a standard (and wonderful!) alternative for backyard beds. Nonetheless, you should use a wide range of different supplies to make raised backyard beds too!

What materials ought to I exploit to make raised backyard beds, you marvel? Effectively, that will depend on your private choice, type, price range, local weather, and the supplies most accessible to you. Let’s discover the choices!

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This text will go over the most typical (and not-so-common) supplies used to make raised backyard beds – together with wooden, steel, concrete, and extra. We’ll talk about issues to contemplate when selecting supplies equivalent to sturdiness or security, in addition to the variations between varied kinds of lumber. Lastly, don’t miss the listing of potential raised mattress supplies that we propose to keep away from for natural gardening.

Widespread Supplies to Construct Raised Backyard Beds

  • Wooden lumber, together with hardwood or softwood choices
  • Metallic, equivalent to corrugated steel or galvanized metal tubs
  • Bricks, cinder blocks, or concrete blocks
  • Felled logs
  • Poured concrete
  • Wine barrels
  • Straw bales
  • Giant pure stones, cobblestones, or stacked rock partitions
  • Pallets, fence boards, or different upcycled wooden
  • Different miscellaneous containers or supplies

Selecting the very best supplies for backyard beds

Along with the listing above, you may create a raised backyard mattress out of absolutely anything able to holding soil and vegetation! A kiddie pool, used tires, scrap wooden discovered on the aspect of the highway… the choices appear infinite. Nonetheless, there are a selection of things to contemplate when deciding the very best supplies to go together with. Not all are created equal!


Choose sturdy, sturdy supplies to create raised backyard beds if you’d like them to final. In any case, backyard beds are topic to near-constant moisture, out of doors parts, and probably bugs or pests equivalent to termites. Plus, soil is heavy – particularly as soon as it’s moist! The extra soil mass current (equivalent to in a big or tall raised backyard mattress) the extra stress shall be exuded on the mattress partitions. In that case, skinny lumber can readily bow or rot. Even utilizing the very best lumber, concrete or steel beds will outlast picket raised beds. We’ll discuss extra about the very best wooden choices to construct raised beds beneath.


Most frequently (however not all the time!), price is immediately linked to sturdiness. Excessive-quality supplies that price extra have the potential to final many years or longer. When you decide to save cash upfront and select extra inexpensive supplies, you is likely to be sacrificing the lifespan of your raised mattress. For instance, a planter field constructed of reclaimed pallets or mushy pine wooden probably received’t maintain up half so long as one made with premium lumber. Likewise, massive stones or concrete blocks will price greater than straw bales, however final a literal lifetime compared!

Now, that doesn’t imply you need to lay our a fortune to make raised backyard beds! Relying in your state of affairs, you could be greater than keen to surrender slightly lifespan to maintain upfront prices down – particularly in case you’re renting your present residence, or solely organising a brief backyard area. There are additionally loads of methods to be resourceful and discover an awesome deal. Hit up your native Craigslist, Fb market, junk yards, and extra to forage for supplies. Heck, when you’ve got easy accessibility to massive felled logs, it’s attainable to create an extremely sturdy AND inexpensive mattress.

Lastly, you should definitely store round and examine costs. For instance, we’re capable of finding nice offers (and a bigger number of supplies) for stones, blocks, gravel, bulk soil and mulch at our locally-owned panorama provide firms. Nonetheless, lumber from the native store has confirmed to be cost-prohibitive, and is much extra inexpensive on the large field {hardware} shops.


There are tons of artistic and budget-friendly raised backyard mattress “hacks” on the market – however I urge you to make use of some widespread sense! As an illustration, I might assume twice earlier than utilizing painted or handled salvaged wooden to create a backyard mattress for edible crops. Particularly if the age and origin is unknown! The wooden could also be contaminated with poisonous chemical compounds like lead, arsenic, or different heavy metals that may migrate (leach) into your soil and meals. Despite the fact that fashionable pressure-treated wooden is much less poisonous than stuff they used to make, I nonetheless advise in opposition to utilizing it.

I’ve seen individuals use every kind of up-cycled supplies to make backyard beds: like styrofoam coolers (product of polystyrene, a suspected carcinogen) or outdated automobile ties (include benzene, polycyclic fragrant hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and a bunch of different substances which can be poisonous to human well being). Whereas I applaud the hassle to reuse gadgets within the title of sustainability, I personally don’t assume it’s definitely worth the threat. See the part beneath for an entire listing of supplies to keep away from.

Sorts of Wooden to Make Raised Backyard Beds

Cedar or Redwood

Cedar and redwood are the 2 greatest decisions of wooden to construct raised backyard beds with. They’re each very sturdy, lovely, and naturally immune to moisture, rot, and even termites. The price of every can differ considerably relying on the place you reside. We’ve discovered that redwood is extra inexpensive on the west coast, whereas cedar is extra available and thus cheaper within the jap US.

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Raised backyard beds comprised of redwood or cedar ought to final a decade or longer! Water storage tanks was once constructed of redwood, in spite of everything! Cedar and redwood are each technically “softwood” lumber, but the excessive ranges of pure tannins (what repels rot and termites) present in each makes them considerably extra sturdy than different softwoods. With a better tannin content material, redwood is rumored to final just a few years longer than cedar – particularly in case you use coronary heart redwood.

As you’re shopping the lumber division, it is best to see choices for “widespread grade” redwood or coronary heart redwood – generally known as development coronary heart, ‘con coronary heart’, or heart-B redwood. We construct raised beds from coronary heart redwood, which is extra dense and due to this fact extra long-lasting than widespread grade or sapwood.

As a lot as attainable, select lumber with an FSC certification. The Forest Stewardship Council certifies lumber that comes from “responsibly managed forests that present environmental, social and financial advantages”.

Different wooden choices for raised beds

Normally, hardwood lumber is extra dense so it gives a superior degree of sturdiness and energy over softwood lumber. Examples of long-lasting hardwood lumber embrace teak, maple, beech, hemlock, walnut, black locust, and oak. Wine barrels are product of oak, each to reinforce the flavour of wine but additionally to offer unbelievable moisture-resistance and longevity. We use wine barrels as raised backyard beds extensively in our backyard! Simply you should definitely drill not less than half a dozen drainage holes within the backside utilizing a 1/2” to three/4” drill bit.

Whereas sturdy, hardwood timber develop extra slowly and are due to this fact far much less widespread in development than softwoods. Well-liked softwood lumber contains Douglas fir, pine, spruce, and juniper. These choices are sometimes extra inexpensive than redwood or cedar, although not fairly as sturdy. Raised backyard beds comprised of these softwoods are recognized to final about 4 to 7 years on common (in comparison with 10 to twenty years for cedar or redwood), relying in your local weather.

One other factor to contemplate is lumber dimension. The thickness of your wooden boards immediately impacts your backyard mattress’s lifespan too. A raised backyard mattress constructed of two” thick boards will outlast a mattress product of 1” boards or ½” thick fence boards – by far! We use coronary heart redwood 2×6” boards to construct our raised beds.

Be taught how we construct our wooden raised beds with this step-by-step tutorial (video included)! Or, take a peek at some sturdy, easy-to-assemble raised mattress kits right here.

Ought to I seal my wooden backyard mattress?

That is one other a kind of “it relies upon” conditions! Redwood and cedar positively don’t require a protecting sealer, however might profit from it in climates with excessive humidity or precipitation. When you do decide to seal your wooden backyard beds, select a non-toxic sealer, equivalent to Backyard Seal or Hope’s Pure Tung Oil. Softer wooden choices will profit from the added safety of a sealer much more. Observe the producers suggestions for a way usually to use a contemporary coat.

Personally we don’t seal our redwood backyard beds, but we do reside in a reasonably dry local weather! Foggy at occasions… however fairly dry. We additionally love the best way that redwood naturally ages, untouched. It begins off a wonderful pink colour, turns to a barely amber tone inside a 12 months, after which fades to a wonderful beachy-barnwood gray. Cedar additionally gracefully ages with time, altering from reddish tan to silver gray (until a sealer is routinely utilized).

Metallic Raised Backyard Beds

Metallic raised backyard beds have gotten more and more fashionable! They’re fashionable, glossy, and extremely sturdy. In contrast to wooden raised beds, steel beds won’t rot over time, swell and shrink with moisture, or require a lot maintenance. That mentioned, galvanized metal raised backyard beds are a nice alternative for tremendous moist climates! Some people might fear that steel beds will make their soil scorching, however it’s nothing to be involved about. Even when the steel feels heat to the contact, damp soil does an awesome job of buffering temperature swings. I do know many hot-climate gardeners who use steel raised backyard beds, no drawback.

There are a variety of steel backyard mattress choices. You might make your personal with sheets of corrugated steel as sides inside a wooden body. Or, flip a prefabricated steel container right into a raised backyard mattress – equivalent to including drainage holes to the underside of a galvanized metal animal feed or water trough.

Final however not least, there are a variety of actually cool steel backyard mattress kits on the market! My buddy Kevin simply began promoting some tremendous sturdy and trendy Birdies backyard mattress kits, proven beneath. They are often made into a wide range of sizes and styles, and have been beforehand solely accessible in Australia. (Use code ‘deannacat3’ to avoid wasting 5% off Birdies beds right here!) Gardener’s Provide Firm additionally gives a stellar collection of well-rated galvanized metal choices like this modular mattress equipment.

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Irrespective of which route you are taking, you should definitely use galvanized steel so the beds received’t rust!

Are galvanized metal backyard beds protected?

Sure, well-made galvanized metal backyard beds are completely protected to develop meals in! (Observe the emphasis on well-made, so select respected and well-rated merchandise!) Metal is an alloy of iron and carbon. By the galvanization course of, metal is coated with a layer of zinc that successfully seals it and prevents corrosion and rust. It is vitally unlikely for notable quantities of zinc to leach from the coating into your soil. It takes very acidic situations and plenty of, a few years for a galvanized zinc coating to interrupt down.

Even then, zinc isn’t a foul man! Reasonably, zinc is a mineral naturally present in soil – and an important micronutrient for plant development! Crops depend on zinc for wholesome root improvement, for added resilience to chilly temperatures, and to assist different phytochemical processes such because the formation of chlorophyll. Nonetheless, in case your galvanized metal beds begin to visibly corrode on the inside, it’s best to play it protected and change them.

Making Raised Backyard Beds from Concrete, Brick or Cinder Blocks

Like these comprised of steel, raised backyard beds constructed from concrete pavers, cinderblocks, or brick have the potential to be supremely sturdy and durable. Nonetheless, this class comes with just a few caveats to contemplate! The set up of concrete block backyard beds require a good degree of dedication, particularly in case you safe them in place with mortar or adhesive. They’re heavy, create a extra everlasting design than different choices, and thus restrict your flexibility for change.

It’s attainable to make backyard beds from pavers or blocks with out adhesive (e.g. just by stacking blocks) in case you preserve them pretty shallow. But you’ll wish to safe them in place in case you’re making a mattress two toes or taller, in an space susceptible to heavy rains or flooding, on a slope, or to in any other case create a extra sturdy set up. It’s additionally attainable to search out interlocking blocks made for mortarless wall techniques.

Now we have made numerous raised backyard areas with concrete blocks and secured them with development concrete adhesive (the identical means we made our concrete block greenhouse basis). The adhesive might be not solely non-toxic, however we solely used a small bead of glue deep between every block. Additionally, these beds primarily home decorative vegetation over edibles. Be sure you let your adhesive absolutely dry and treatment earlier than including soil!

Are concrete blocks or cinder blocks protected for gardening?

Fly ash is a standard concern when utilizing pavers, bricks, or cinder block supplies to create raised backyard beds. Fly ash is a masonry additive that comprises heavy metals equivalent to radium and arsenic, and is commonly utilized in concrete merchandise for added sturdiness. Nonetheless, there may be little or no scientific proof accessible that claims whether or not or not these heavy metals readily leach into the encompassing soil. When you’re involved about this threat, purchase your supplies from a good supply the place you possibly can ask questions and examine specs to see if fly ash is current or not.

Pure Stone Raised Beds

Going past concrete blocks, you can also make long-lasting raised planting areas utilizing pure stone too – equivalent to cobblestones, flagstone, small boulders, or different foraged rock materials. In contrast to concrete, there isn’t a fear about chemical components right here. Pure stones and rocks will be freely stacked, or mortared/glued in place. As a result of the sizes and styles of pure rocks aren’t as cookie-cutter as concrete blocks, the development would require extra creativeness and finagling to puzzle-piece them collectively. But the completed consequence shall be much more rustic, inventive, and exquisite – and mix in superbly in a pure backyard setting!

Keep away from utilizing these supplies for raised backyard beds:

  • Railroad ties. Whereas they appear kinda funky-cool, railroad ties are handled with creosote – a ‘possible’ human carcinogen. Creosote can also inhibit or hurt vegetation rising close by.
  • Recycled or reclaimed wooden of unknown origin. As we explored earlier, in case you are uncertain of the origin, age, or remedy of the wooden, be leery. It might have been handled, stained, or painted in a means that may introduce toxins into your backyard.
  • Handled lumber, or stress handled lumber. This one is up for debate with some gardeners. Traditionally, stress handled lumber was cured with an arsenic-based compound known as chromated copper arsenate (CCA). Arsenic may be very unhealthy information, and research present that it readily leach from the handled lumber into the encompassing soil. The aim was to make pretty low-cost wooden (particularly pine) last more in opposition to the weather. Although CCA was banned in 2003 and changed with varied less-toxic copper-based chemical compounds, I nonetheless personally keep away from handled lumber. In any case, the anticipated lifespan of redwood and cedar truly outlasts fashionable pressure-treated pine by a number of years! So, why select the chemically-treated supplies in your raised backyard beds?
  • Different dangerous supplies equivalent to styrofoam, used automobile tires, or miscellaneous plastic merchandise (as mentioned within the security part above). When you’re contemplating a plastic backyard mattress equipment, make certain it’s made with food-grade BPA-free plastic.

Choices, choices…

Effectively people, that concludes this dialogue on the preferred supplies used to make raised backyard beds! I hope that the data supplied right here will allow you to make an knowledgeable resolution on what is going to work greatest in your backyard. Maybe you’ll mix-and-match kinds? It doesn’t matter what, I’m positive it’ll come collectively superbly!

Upon getting your beds put in, take a look at this text all about how you can fill raised backyard beds with the “excellent” (I hate that phrase, lol) natural backyard soil combination. Please be happy to ask any questions within the feedback beneath, and share this text in case you discovered it precious!

You might also get pleasure from these associated posts:

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  • The Advantages of No-Until (No-Dig) Gardening or Farming
  • How you can Set up a Raised Backyard Mattress on Concrete, Patio, or Exhausting Floor
  • How you can Amend & Fertilize a Backyard Mattress Earlier than Planting (or Between Seasons)
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Choosing the Best Materials for Raised Garden Beds

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