They can create fertile garden spaces for people with limited mobility, poor soil, small yards, balconies, or rooftops.Now there are certain considerations with some of these woods and we will explain that but cost, availability, and durability are important factors when building raised beds.The chemical treatments applied to the wood repel fungi, insects, and bacteria that would find a moist environment like a garden very hospitable.If the chemical treatments were cosmetically applied to the wood’s surface, it should not be used for “ground contact.” In other words, it is not safe to make direct contact with the soil.Wood that was truly pressure-treated–the preserving chemicals are equally distributed throughout the wood–will have a label indicating that it is safe for “ground contact use.” Reputable building supply retailers can provide you with Safety Data Sheets for their treated lumber which will give you more information about the chemicals used.Use plastic sheeting to line the interior of your garden beds to prevent direct contact between the wood and the soil.A great example is this Cedar Raised Garden Bed Kit with Fast Assembly and No Tools Needed (link to Amazon).West coast cedar (Thuja plicata) is the variety you are most likely to find at a lumber retailer.It may be worth the price, but if you choose cedar, expect some high costs upfront (source).Cypress does not last quite as long as cedar, but it is more resistant to rot and decay than cheaper woods like pine.Even though cypress, along with cedar, pine, and redwood, is a frequent recommendation for raised beds, its lumber is not widely available.In fact, black locust is becoming an increasingly popular lumber for many outdoor projects like fences and decks because it holds up well in all kinds of weather.Some states classify it as an invasive species and restrict the sale and propagation of black locust trees.Check with a local Extension agent or other experts to learn more about the availability of black locust lumber in your area.Pine is strong and easy to use, which makes it a popular choice in a variety of building projects, including raised beds.If you have a small budget, are a novice builder, or simply do not mind having a more temporary raised bed, pine may be a good option for you (source).Be aware, however, that while it seems like a great idea to build a raised bed out of such durable wood, the costs can be quite high.Raw linseed oil, a flaxseed extract, is relatively inexpensive and protects wood from some sources of decay.However, it is more expensive than raw linseed oil and often manufactured in combination with chemicals that are not safe for gardens.Even child-sized swimming pools, if they are robust enough, make decent raised beds as long as drainage holes are added.Native stone, bricks, and cement blocks are by far the most durable and most expensive building materials for raised gardens.If you intend to grow herbs or vegetables, railroad ties and utility poles are not the woods for you!Starting in the 1970s, the most popular wood treatment for residential projects like decks, play structures, and raised gardens, was chromated copper arsenate (CCA).However, growing concerns prompted the EPA to investigate claims that wood treated with CCA leached arsenic into the soil.Furthermore, plants like basil, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce were accumulating arsenic when exposed to CCA in raised beds.The EPA’s investigation showed enough evidence of danger that woods treated with CCA have not been available for residential uses since December 31, 2003.If the wood you want to use for your raised bed comes from a fence, deck, or other pre-2004 residential structure, it is not safe to use in a future home project. .

Choosing the Best Materials for Raised Garden Beds ~ Homestead

Raised beds can provide superior protection from pests and weeds, offer comfortable ergonomics, and can be filled with ideal soil to grow food, flowers, herbs and more.This article will go over the most common (and not-so-common) materials used to make raised garden beds – including wood, metal, concrete, and more.We’ll discuss things to consider when choosing materials such as durability or safety, as well as the differences between various types of lumber.Finally, don’t miss the list of potential raised bed materials that we suggest to avoid for organic gardening.In addition to the list above, you could create a raised garden bed out of just about anything capable of holding soil and plants!After all, garden beds are subject to near-constant moisture, outdoor elements, and potentially insects or pests such as termites.Edit: Check out this newer article with 7 ways to make wood raised garden beds last as long as possible, with information on sealing, silicone and more!If you opt to save money upfront and choose more affordable materials, you might be sacrificing the lifespan of your raised bed.For example, a planter box constructed of reclaimed pallets or soft pine wood likely won’t hold up half as long as one made with premium lumber.Likewise, large stones or concrete blocks will cost more than straw bales, but last a literal lifetime in comparison!Depending on your situation, you may be more than willing to give up a little lifespan to keep upfront costs down – especially if you’re renting your current home, or only setting up a temporary garden space.Heck, if you have easy access to large felled logs, it’s possible to create an incredibly durable AND affordable bed.For example, we are able to find great deals (and a larger variety of materials) for stones, blocks, gravel, bulk soil and mulch at our locally-owned landscape supply companies.For instance, I would think twice before using painted or treated salvaged wood to create a garden bed for edible crops.The wood may be contaminated with toxic chemicals like lead, arsenic, or other heavy metals that can migrate (leach) into your soil and food.I’ve seen people use all kinds of up-cycled materials to make garden beds: like styrofoam coolers (made of polystyrene, a suspected carcinogen) or old car ties (contain benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and a host of other substances that are toxic to human health).We’ve found that redwood is more affordable on the west coast, while cedar is more readily available and thus less expensive in the eastern US.Examples of long-lasting hardwood lumber include teak, maple, beech, hemlock, walnut, black locust, and oak.We built redwood raised beds around our patio, and attached trellises to the back to also double as chicken-proof fencing.Redwood and cedar definitely don’t require a protective sealer, but may benefit from it in climates with high humidity or precipitation.Cedar also gracefully ages with time, changing from reddish tan to silver grey (unless a sealer is routinely applied).That said, galvanized steel raised garden beds are a great choice for super wet climates!Even if the metal feels warm to the touch, damp soil does a great job of buffering temperature swings.Or, turn a prefabricated metal container into a raised garden bed – such as adding drainage holes to the bottom of a galvanized steel animal feed or water trough.My friend Kevin just started selling some super durable and stylish Birdies garden bed kits, shown below.Gardener’s Supply Company also offers a stellar selection of well-rated galvanized steel options like this modular bed kit.Through the galvanization process, steel is coated with a layer of zinc that effectively seals it and prevents corrosion and rust.Plants rely on zinc for healthy root development, for added resilience to cold temperatures, and to support other phytochemical processes such as the formation of chlorophyll.However, if your galvanized steel beds start to visibly corrode on the interior, it is best to play it safe and replace them.Like those made from metal, raised garden beds constructed from concrete pavers, cinderblocks, or brick have the potential to be supremely durable and sturdy.The installation of concrete block garden beds require a decent level of commitment, especially if you secure them in place with mortar or adhesive.A freshly terraced slope in our front yard garden, made with concrete blocks and adhesive.Fly ash is a common concern when using pavers, bricks, or cinder block materials to create raised garden beds.Fly ash is a masonry additive that contains heavy metals such as radium and arsenic, and is often used in concrete products for added durability.If you’re concerned about this risk, buy your materials from a reputable source where you can ask questions and check specifications to see if fly ash is present or not.A raised concrete block planting area in our back yard, used primarily for perennial ornamentals.Going beyond concrete blocks, you can make long-lasting raised planting areas using natural stone too – such as cobblestones, flagstone, small boulders, or other foraged rock material.Because the shapes and sizes of natural rocks aren’t as cookie-cutter as concrete blocks, the construction will require more imagination and finagling to puzzle-piece them together.Historically, pressure treated lumber was cured with an arsenic-based compound called chromated copper arsenate (CCA).Arsenic is very bad news, and studies show that it readily leach from the treated lumber into the surrounding soil.Historically, pressure treated lumber was cured with an arsenic-based compound called chromated copper arsenate (CCA).Arsenic is very bad news, and studies show that it readily leach from the treated lumber into the surrounding soil.Other risky materials such as styrofoam, used car tires, or miscellaneous plastic products (as discussed in the safety section above). .

Everything to Know about Building Raised Garden Beds

They’re quick to build, look smart, and are excellent for those who have trouble bending over or with their knees.You can control the growing medium in raised garden beds since you have to fill them after you build them.With that choice, you can grow vegetables in a medium that’s better drained and more fertile than what the soil on your property gives you.The raised garden beds in their second year, and surrounded by pea gravel pathways.For example, if you’re in a wheelchair or have mobility issues then a taller structure will help you to reach into beds.Another positive thing about raised garden beds is that they help stop erosion.If you’re on a slope too, you could go the full gamut, and terrace your raised garden beds so that they were completely level.Nearby hedges and trees can send their roots under raised garden beds.I’ve also lined their bottoms and sides with landscaping fabric to help stop roots from a nearby hedge and trees from getting in.Vegetables and fruit crops will suffer if trees rob their growing spaces.Everything from shrubs to giant redwoods will creep their way near those fertile boxes of nutrients and water and can suck them dry.My beds are lined with landscaping fabric to help stop tree roots from growing inside.Lining raised beds helps to exclude colonizers of both the root and animal varieties.The best way to line raised garden beds is with very small gauge galvanized steel mesh.I’ve heard that chicken wire doesn’t last very long underground though so do opt for the more expensive galvanized steel mesh.For that reason, it’s probably not the best idea to line raised garden beds in plastic sheeting.You create raised garden beds by building a large container and filling it with soil, compost, and aerating materials.To make wooden raised garden beds you’ll also need long stainless steel screws meant for outdoor use.The wood I’m using is spruce pressure treated with a substance suitable for organic vegetable beds.I’ve seen bricks, cinder blocks, corrugated roofing sheets, tires, and even wood-effect plastic.The best of the best is cedar since it’s naturally rot-resistant, doesn’t require chemical treatments, looks great, and will last for 10-20 years.It’s a cheaper option but beds made of soft wood only last 7-10 years.The wood I’ve used for my new raised garden beds is spruce and it’s pressure treated with Tanalith E[1].It’s a compound made up of copper and organic biocides that slow the wood’s natural rotting process and defend it from fungus and insects.I spoke with the timber merchant and the sawmill that cut and treated the wood I purchased.It turns out that before 2006 in the UK and Europe, and 2003 in the USA, most wood was treated with an unsafe preservative.MB means that the wood has been treated with the pesticide Methyl bromide and is unsafe for your garden or home.SF refers to a new type of pesticide called Sulphuryl Fluoride and you should avoid using pallets marked with this abbreviation too.Buried stakes give raised garden beds support on slopes.Repeat this step and attach the other short side to the other end of the long planks.Driving the stakes into the ground helps the beds and wood to stay put and reduce splitting.Dig holes deep enough for each of the stakes at the four corners and then flip the bed over and put it in its final placement.One of the most confusing parts of building raised garden beds is choosing what to fill them with.First of all, if you’ve chosen not to line your beds, you should still put down a layer of cardboard or stacks of newspaper.The general rule is to fill raised garden beds with 40% topsoil mixed with 40% compost or well-rotted manure, and 20% material that adds drainage and water-retaining properties.You’ll see in the video that I’ve ignored that rule due to my fear of the New Zealand Flatworm being introduced via contaminated topsoil.The topsoil on the Isle of Man may be contaminated with this pest and its eggs and I don’t want to risk it in my garden.After you fill them once, you should still add a layer of organic matter, such as compost, seaweed, and rotted manure, as a yearly mulch.Just spread it an inch or two deep all over the surface of the beds and plant or sow seeds directly into the compost.A compost mulch not only suppresses weeds but maintains soil health and productivity.There’s also an excellent article that outlines how to prepare and amend garden soil that I recommend you check out. .

How to Build a Wood Raised Garden Bed

A wooden raised bed is a classic choice in the garden, relatively inexpensive, and easy to get started with.Untreated cedar, fir, and pine are common choices for wood raised beds.Keep in mind that the lengths of boards can be adjusted based on your desired bed size.Make sure to use untreated lumber if you are building the raised bed for vegetables.Try to use sustainably sourced, local or regionally produced woods to be more ecologically friendly.To help your wood raised bed have a longer life in th garden, apply a coating of raw linseed oil or tung oil to the inside bed walls to help water-proof untreated wood.Water sealants and latex paints are also okay to use, but be sure to research what chemicals are used in them to be sure they are safe for edibles.Leveling the ground first makes it easier to build your raised bed and keeps it in good shape longer because there’s less stress on the wood.It’s easiest to simply set your anchor posts on top of the soil with the frame; sinking them in the ground isn’t necessary.Now that your bed frame is in place, repeat step 3 two more times, stacking the 2×8s vertically.Soil may settle the first season, so water it in thoroughly and give it a couple weeks before planting if you can, then top off if you need to.deck screws to reinforce the corner seams and keep them from popping open or developing a crack where soil can escape. .

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed: Best Kits and DIY Plans

Whether you’re handy with tools or don’t know a drill press from a driver, there are kits on the market that are easy to build with little time or expense.Raised bed designs come in a variety of heights to make reaching your crops less stressful on your body over time.In the backyard or the front, a series of raised planters surrounded by paths looks neat and well tended all year round.Raised garden boxes are known to deter rabbits, which will handily nibble in-ground crops growing at eye level.Raised beds filled with nutrient rich, organic soil warm faster in spring due to their elevation away from the cold ground—and their improved drainage. .

Raised Bed Garden from A - Z

Earlier this year, I invited my email group to send me any questions they would like me to answer on the topic of raised bed gardening.It’s my goal to answer all your questions from A to Z, planning to harvest and maintenance, starting with this first episode in this raised bed gardening series.If you would like to join the conversation and contribute to future topics, click the red “Get Free Updates” button at the top of this page.The focus of the show was backyard food production in raised beds from seed to harvest.Three years, two different locations, 52 episodes, and zero failures later, I attribute my gardening success in large part to all the practices that I will share with you in this series.My Growing a Greener World team and I have traveled all over the country and seen many raised bed garden setups.As part of the Growing a Greener World series, I built my GardenFarm and turned what was five acres of overgrown brush into a large, productive raised bed garden and developing landscape.Raised beds provide you control over the health of the soil in which you are growing your plants.Raised beds can put plants at eye level for better observation of pest issues.Just that little bit of added convenience makes it easier to work in the garden, even on those days where I might be tempted to just kick back with a cold beverage.By using raised beds, there really aren’t any surface issues that should hold you back from gardening.So, no matter how bad the ground you’re starting with, anyone anywhere can grow a productive raised bed garden.In 2009, I was challenged to build an entire garden (including plants) for $25 or less and was fortunate to find 110-year-old barn wood to use for my raised bed structure.For most, this is a benefit, but if there’s a possibility you will need to relocate your garden in coming years, a permanent raised bed structure will need to be deconstructed.If the sidewalls of your bed aren’t very thick, the bordering soil and plants could be impacted by extreme conditions.During this series, I’ll cover some ways to significantly reduce this downside, but the fact remains.Bear in mind that these guidelines and principles apply most to an edible garden – growing fruits and vegetables.Those edible plants require lots of sun to mature fully and set fruit for your harvest.If your property is shaded by lots of trees, you may want to consider some selective pruning to allow the sun to reach your garden spot.Spending some time each day also helps you catch pests and disease in early stages.If your garden is tucked away on the other end of your yard, and that distance feels like a trek after a long day; you might be inclined to have a seat on your favorite chair instead.And don’t forget, you want those garden edibles to be as close to the kitchen as possible for a quick dinner.If at all possible, don’t site your garden in an area where water tends to pool on your property.If you are in a rural area and subject to visitation by frequent furry nibblers, like deer or raccoons; incorporate fence planning into your overall design.I’ve seen just about everything too – even plants inserted directly into bags of garden soil (not something I recommend).Going higher than 18” can potentially cause more structural issues down the road – due to the weight and pressure of all that soil.Will the surface allow the soil to erode out the bottom (go higher), or might it be impacted by the weight of the bed (don’t go too high)?Four feet allows more flexibility for spacing rows, but more importantly, not building beyond that width will allow you to easily reach the center from either side of the bed.It’s important that you don’t have to step into the bed to weed, plant, etc., as that will compact the soil and affect drainage and overall health.Maybe you are truly blessed and have bare, level, beautiful earth just waiting for you to come along and plunk some beds down.Then, you are like the rest of us who have (or had) to put a little blood, sweat, and tears into claiming our garden spot from turf or shrub or weeds.Rent a sod cutter to remove that turf pretty quickly and easily – but be forewarned, this will involve a hit to your budget.Solarizing will take some time (4-8 weeks), but it is a great way to kill much of the weed growth and seeds for 2-3” below the soil surface.If any holes are poked into the plastic at any point during the solarization process, cover them with duct tape.The good news is that solarization can kill Bermuda grass runners as well as some of the rhizomes.So while solarization can be effective against Bermuda grass, be prepared to continue this battle for many years to come.Bermuda grass is so persistent; it is the only time I might consider placing a layer of landscape cloth under my raised bed structures.I strongly encourage you to build some sort of border around the edge of your bed to prevent Bermuda grass creeping in from the perimeter.Bermuda grass needs plenty of sunlight, so when buried under layers of soil, it’s not as likely to sprout up from underneath.Fortunately though, raised beds prevent the necessity to remove most of the stumps and roots left behind.Much of the remaining woody material will be buried in your garden beds and will break down over time, adding a few nutrients to the soil.You may also opt to till the garden area to tear up existing roots, weeds, etc.There is some drawback to tilling your soil that I discuss at length in the video blog mentioned earlier.Studies have shown that water doesn’t move as freely from a dense to a less-dense layer.The deeper you build your beds, the less likely this will be a problem, and again if this is the best area you have to work with, don’t let that hold you back!I used 16’ lengths of 6”x6” untreated cedar at the GardenFarm but living in the heavily-populated Atlanta area offers me a better supply of wood materials than will be available for many of you.The FSC is an international organization that has developed standards for responsible forest management.If you live in a hot and muggy area, untreated wood may only see you through a couple of years.There haven’t been many studies on the impact of using paints or stains for garden bed structure.The arsenic in CCA led manufacturers of CCA-treated wood to discontinue its availability for residential applications in 2003.If you’re using lots of compost, you should be fine, since plants don’t even take up arsenic unless the soil is deficient in phosphorus.And that’s likely not the case since phosphorus tends to be immobile and ongoing amendments of compost just add to the overall volume.In other words, really healthy soil with lots of organic matter does not take up arsenic by plant roots.At any rate, that would be a good indicator of a potential problem – in which case you might want to think about having your soil tested for metal concentrations.Your tomatoes and your eggplant could absorb copper or arsenic into their roots, but it is generally not shown to affect the fruit.As an extra precaution, grow leafy greens and root vegetables more toward the center of your bed (12” from the perimeter if possible), furthest from the treated wood.A final note: When building treated wood beds, make your cuts somewhere that allows you to contain the sawdust.Virtually all concrete blocks are made of what’s called Portland cement as well as aggregate, like sand or gravel.And here’s the real rub: fly ash contains various amounts of toxic metals; including arsenic, lead, and mercury.While that might sound scary, the risk of those metals becoming available in the soil only happens if part of the concrete block is pulverized.Next, soils higher in organic matter are always beneficial but especially in this case, because they help chemically bind the metals – making them unavailable for absorption into the plant.Just as with CCA-treated wood, root crops and leafy greens are most susceptible when exposed to higher concentrations.If you have beds made from concrete blocks, just avoid anything that would cause them to break to the point that the dust from pulverized pieces can come in contact with plant roots.If building raised beds over a concrete surface, the same risks and preventions would apply.It appears to be a benign product for garden use, but there isn’t much information out there to make a solid determination.Creosote is used as a wood preservative for industrial use and is the black, oily stuff you see oozing from the sides of the ties.The heft of railroad ties has made them a popular choice for raised beds and garden retaining walls.While there have been few studies on the impact of using them to contain edible plants, I’ll take the advice provided directly from the EPA on creosote:.There’s little scientific information available examining the effect of galvanized metal in the use of raised beds.What I can tell you is that the galvanization process typically involves dipping the metal in molten zinc or zinc-based coating.If too much zinc were leached into the soil, it would probably reflect in dying plants, before it would ever pose a health risk.As a result, your soil will tend to dry out more quickly, and foliage in the line of that reflective power might suffer.It might be wise to plant those tender vegetables – like lettuce – toward the center of the bed where soil temperature will remain most constant.It doesn’t get much easier than one of the many raised bed kits available for purchase today.I recently built raised beds on an episode of Growing a Greener World, so check that out.GGW Blog: Salvaging 110-year old wood – My Quest for a Twenty-five Dollar Organic Victory Garden. .

2021 Best Wood for Planter Boxes & Raised Garden Beds

It is an effective and easy to install solution to create lovely raised beds and planters for your back yard.Garden designers near you can help craft the best raised beds and provide assistance to promote strong and healthy plants.White Oak: This dense wood is safe for plants and has no added preservatives, to ensure the safety of your gardening.Hire a landscape designer and create a beautiful garden in your back yard, to make your home a more pleasant place for you and your family.Line your raised garden bed to increase the durability of your construction and to prevent toxins from infecting the soil.Avoid non-porous plastic because it doesn’t allow the plants to drain and can discourage beneficial insects or worms.You can also use a putty knife to apply roofing cement to the inside of the planter to keep water from damaging the wood. .

How to Make a Raised Bed for Your Garden

A wood-framed raised bed for your garden is simply a wooden box—usually a square or a rectangle—that is open to the ground below and the sun and sky above.You can make a wood-framed raised bed from pine, spruce, cedar, redwood, or composite wood.To make a wood-framed raised bed you will need enough wood to complete the box, screws or nails, a measuring tape, a saw, and a hammer or drill.A woodworker’s square and a pencil also will help you make accurate cuts and angles when putting your raised bed together.Depending on the rot-resistance of the wood you choose, your raised bed should easily last from 3 to 20 years.But you should never use wood that been treated with chemicals or painted—especially if your raised bed is being used to grow crops that you will eat.The cost of the lumber will be determined by the thickness, width, and length of each piece.Commonly raised beds are constructed from lumber that is between 6- and 12-inches wide.Take a plan that includes the length and width of the raised bed you want to build to the retailer and ask for lumber that will require you to make the fewest cuts to build the bed you want.The lumber yard may make each cut you need—usually for an extra fee.Show your retailer you rough raised bed plan and ask for help purchasing galvanized screws or nails.A very useable raised bed for a vegetable garden would be 2-, 3-, or 4-feet wide and 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, or 12-feet long.For even greater stability, you can place posts halfway along the side walls.Posts help hold the bed in place and will reduce the outward pressure that soil will exert on the frame.With a hand, table, or power saw, make cuts on each 12’ piece at 4’.Set one 4-foot 2-by-6 on its thin edge on the pavement, and place a 16-inch corner post at one end.Join short sides with an 8-foot board and secure with two or three screws.Hoops for Covers Optional: To protect crops with bird netting or season-extending row covers or plastic sheeting, bend two 8-foot pieces of ½-inch PVC pipe to form semi-circles, and slip their ends into the 1-inch pipes inside the bed.To hold hoops for bird netting or row covers, attach four 12-inch pieces of 1-inch PVC pipe inside the bed: On the long sides, space pipes 4 feet apart, 2 feet from each end; screw on two tube straps to secure each pipe.Hardware Cloth to Exclude Gophers Optional: Hardware cloth lining to keep gophers and moles out: Once the bed is in place, rake the soil at the bottom level and tamp it smooth. .

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