What wood is best to use for raised beds?

February 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

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