What wood is best to use for raised beds?

Feb 16, 2010

Here is a question I received from Jocelyn:

"I have to start building my raised garden beds this week (mother-in-law in town to babysit while I build) – before I can get to the “Raised Beds” seminar this weekend at NHG.  I was hoping you could help with a build question today! I am thinking of going in one of four directions.  1 x 12:

1.      Cedar finished with AFM Safecoat Dynoseal (http://www.afmsafecoat.com/products.php?page=6#73)
2.      Cedar unfinished
3.      Regular lumber (the basic building lumber from Lowe’s) finished with AFM Safecoat Dynoseal

4.      Regular lumber unfinished

How fast would unfinished wood deteriorate in our DFW weather?  Is a sealer necessary?  What type of lumber do you use and has it held up?


Honestly, I would not personally use any sealer or treatment on the wood except perhaps Linseed Oil. Linseed oil is combustible so you you have to take care in using it, but it can be safely used on wood for veggie beds.

I built all of my beds with rough-cut untreated cedar. This is going to be the most naturally long lasting option. I also built my chicken coop out of the same material, untreated. I used 2 x 12’s instead of 1 x 12’s on my beds so they won’t bow as much and they’ll last much longer. About half of my beds are going on 6 years. They still look great and I wouldn’t expect that I’d need to replace any of these beds for another 5 or 6 years. Probably much longer to be honest. I used 4” coated deck screws to assemble them, with 4 x 4 corner posts for bracing. Here is how I build mine: raised beds

I would not use regular treated lumber, and unfinished regular lumber (pine) will disintegrate on you much more quickly.

Now, the rough-cut untreated cedar is going to cost you the most money. And the only place I’ve found it for the past few years was at Ivey Lumber in South Dallas. I’ve heard rumors that Lowes or Home Depot might be carrying it now, but they won’t do any cutting for you. Ivey will.

Second in longevity to the Cedar would be Redwood. FYI, we have Redwood raised bed kits at NHG right now in 3’x6’ and 4’ x 8’ (12” high). All you have to do is screw them together easy peasy. They’ll be a but less expensive than building the cedar beds, plus there’s very little labor involved. raised bed kits

For soil recommendations you can go here: Raised bed soil mix

There are 5 comments for this entry

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Feb 16, 2010
6:05 pm

I have the large size Redwood Raised Bed kit from NHG. Seriously worth the money! It’s a great value and I put it together, by myself, in less than 20 minutes. I plan on getting more this year.

ann allen
Feb 22, 2010
1:02 pm

raised veggie planters and feral cats= cat poop where I planted my peas… discuss.

Leslie Finical Halleck
Feb 22, 2010
4:50 pm

Eewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. LOL. Yeah, not fun.

Well, first you have to figure out a method that works for keeping them out of your beds.

1. Large dog

Barring that, you can try some of the organic repellents such as Shake Away or Liquid Fence. There is also fox urine. Do you have roses in your garden? I usually take trimmings from them and lay them on the ground around plants they like to visit. One or two little pricks in those paws and they’ll skeedaddle.

The feces that is there, if it’s visible, should be removed from the garden. You can bury it, or dispose of it with your other kitty business, if you have any. It’ won’t hurt your peas that your growing.

May 09, 2014
3:24 am

We can use it as a spray and drive them out of our backyard.

May 31, 2016
10:41 am

I would definitely NOT use any chemicals or treated wood for raised beds to grow vegetables.  Rough cut cedar will survive for many years.  I built my beds with rough cut cedar 2” x 6” x 12’ and stacked two of them so the bed is 12” deep and measures 6’ x 12’.  I used 4” x 4” for the corner posts and anchored them 12” into the soil.  I laid down landscape cloth as a weed barrier and 1/2” hardware cloth as a mole barrier.  The moles are undergoing a population explosion in my area, but the 1/2” hardware cloth keeps them out of the beds.

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