Frame Material for Raised Beds

Discussion in 'Small Space Gardening' started by dac, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. dac

    dac Member

    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Does anyone have a recommendation for framing material (pref wood) for raised garden beds that is cost effective, aesthetically reasonable, and non-toxic? Pressure treated lumber is probably most durable but unless a barrier layer (plastic ?) is incorporated between frame and soil, there may be health issues introduced. Beds will be approx 4'x15'.

    thank you !
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    11,140
    Likes Received:
    360
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    Don't know if it is available in Vancouver, but over here one can get 'planks' made of recycled plastic, with imitation wood grain on the surface. Mainly used for making picnic tables and similar, but it should be suitable for your needs.

    Agree that pressure-treated wood is likely to be toxic.
     
  3. lhuget

    lhuget Active Member

    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada Zone 3a
    A little labour intensive to install but local stone (if it works with your design) makes a wonderful frame material.

    Les
     
  4. silver_creek

    silver_creek Active Member

    Messages:
    484
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, usa
    After pricing many alternatives, we did use pressure treated lumber (ACQ not CCA, no arsenic), and then lined them with bamboo barrier. This stiff plastic was easy to install, and made a very solid barrier between the wood and soil. We considered the plastic composite wood, but most of that is not rigid enough to hold the soil without warping.
     
  5. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Not sure what your aesthetic is. Used concrete chunks can work, and be quite bohemian looking - suitability depends too on what you intend to grow - assume at least some food plants.

    Simple boulders might work too if you aren't married to wood. If you must have wood, why not cedar?
     
  6. cgjedi

    cgjedi Active Member

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Surrey, Canada
    I'm going through same discovery process of what to make raised beds out of. I've looked into PT wood, cedar and composite wood (Trex?). Cedar is almost twice the price of PT wood. And the composite is almost twice the price of cedar (but it'll last a lot longer too).

    Thinking outside the box, so to speak, I've come across this:
    http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=1&p=47455&cat=2

    Attach the metal fasteners to cheap 2x4 and then buy concrete patio pavers of the right height. Much cheaper than the wood options and it'll last forever. Also, it's a lot easier to change the configuration of the bed if I decide to in the few years.
     
  7. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    If cost is a problem, go to scrap lumber from pallets. Won't last forever, but then even cedar doesn't.
     
  8. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kansas City, Mo.
    Great idea with the bamboo barrier. The Lee Valley idea looks interesting.

    Stock tanks make great raised beds. Farm supply stores can be a great resource. Also farm auctions. Farmers let leaky stock tanks go for cheap and for raised beds a little drainage is A-OK. They will last decades.
     
  9. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon
    The home improvement stores around here apparently don't use arsenic based treated wood anymore.

    And it's not hard to line plastic or rubber pond liner between the wood and and soil anyway, which totally separates the wood from soil.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. plantenthusiast

    plantenthusiast Active Member

    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    Dac,

    We use thick untreated cedar for our raised beds, and always have. It is natural, chemical free and the best to use for organic gardening we find. Best to avoid anything treated, painted, or other unnatural materials if you will be growing food crops.

    Cedar will last much longer outdoors than other types of wood, so it is well worth the investment in that regard. You can make a neat & tidy box out of cedar, which is esthetically pleasing.

    Best of luck with your garden boxes,
     
  11. Love4Bugs

    Love4Bugs Active Member

    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    I really like this idea. Have you put one together yet? If so, I have some questions.

    How many stones did it require? Was it deep enough, i.e. how tall is it? What, if anything, would you say are the drawbacks?

    Thanks a ton for the info. I was really at a loss of how to build a raised bed. I can't wait to get started!!
     
  12. cgjedi

    cgjedi Active Member

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Surrey, Canada
    Well, this is how it turned out. I'm pretty thrilled with it and it was pretty easy - lots of work - but easy. I have never had such success with a garden before. Part of it has to do with the concrete holding the warmth of the sun, part of it is the better soil mix I filled it with and part of it is the great home-made fertilizer recipe I came across. These pics were taken in mid-July after planting in early June.


    http://picasaweb.google.com/cgsith/Garden
     
  13. Love4Bugs

    Love4Bugs Active Member

    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Wow! Your garden looks fabulous and I'm sold on concept. It actually has to be easier than the slightly raised bed I built last spring. I'm going to order a couple of them right away. Thanks again!
     
  14. Katalina25

    Katalina25 New Member

    Messages:
    348
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Lancashire , England
  15. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon
    Apparently the pressure treated stuff is much better lately.

    I like 4" x 6" stuff.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Katalina25

    Katalina25 New Member

    Messages:
    348
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Lancashire , England
    MD,

    That looks really rock solid

    It could be the answer for my small garden which when it rains (like always) gets water logged. Its heavy clay which is almost undigable and would cost as much to improve as to buy something like your image.

    Mmm..possibilities.

    Thanks!
     
  17. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

    Messages:
    311
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho USA
    M.D.Vaden, your planter bed looks great!
     

Share This Page