Gardening in raised beds is one of the best forms of vegetable gardening whereby soil is enclosed by a frame e.g., wooden. Selecting the best wood for raised garden beds can be a daunting task and that why is we are here to help you.
With the best wood for raised garden bed it is possible to have best raised vegetable garden layout plans that offers a practical way to grow healthy and strong vegetables.
The wood used in raised gardens can be of any width or length and can be raised to any height depending on one’s preference. Waist-high raised garden beds come through for people with back problems and also the elderly.
Well, I pictured how nice and beautiful it can be to have raised garden beds planted with flowers and any other type of plant. I came to think about it and started it despite my little space and to be sincere it is the most wonderful and exciting thing to do.
with the best wood for Raised garden bed and the best soil for tomatoes in raised garden beds tomatoes grow healthy, strong and are always fresher, juicer and sweeter.
I have since experimented with many types of wood (from juniper wood, cedar, redwood, and others) and planted my own vegetables, herbs, and some beautiful flowers. Well, this is the best investment I have ever made because I don’t have to buy most groceries. A very nice decision to utilize that little space you have may it be a balcony or a backyard.
Benefits of Wooden Raised Garden Beds
Generally, wooden garden beds are very ideal and can come in handy. I would highly recommend raised ones because they have quite a number of benefits than ground gardening.
Raised beds offer you a practical way to grow healthy vegetables and flowers. Raised beds take soil out of the equation allowing you to work with actual dirt, not whatever horrible combination of sand, clay, and cigarette butts your neighbor’s dog left behind when he dug that enormous hole in your yard.
Check out some of the benefits of using wooden raised garden beds;
- Reduce strain while attending to them raised as compared to ground beds
- Reduce soil erosion there is no much flow of soil especially during a rainy season or a windy season since it’s raised
- Prevents insects and other harmful small animals that destroy plants
- It discourages the growth of unnecessary weeds as compared to low garden beds
- Adds a beautiful attraction to the surrounding.
Why Use Wood to Build a Raised Garden Bed Instead of Another Material?
Well, the use of wood is considered to be budget-friendly other than other materials such as concrete. Wood also is very easy to find and also to construct.
What do you consider while choosing the best wood for raised garden beds?
- Durability- this a very major factor that one should consider, I know it’s not an interesting thing to keep on replacing garden beds now and then it can become so boring. In this case, a wood that can last from 10-20 years can be of great help and so good to work with I know, right?
- Rot-resistant – we all know that most of all woods are prone to rot and decay especially if they integrate with moisture or fungi. The flourish of the plants would be highly affected if the wood starts to rot and this may require great maintenance or replacement.
- Safety – be cautious because some woods are usually or require to be treated for use and also to increase longevity .it is good to ask yourself whether that treated wood is good for a food garden. The chemicals mix up with the soil and thus the plants gain them directly.
- Strong and solid -believe the stronger the wood the greater the service it can offer. Woods warp or bow because they are not strong enough to hold the weight of the wet soil.it is good to consider this factor for the survival of your plants.
- Flexible –woods are totally different in terms of texture and also the properties that each contains. The wood should be at least flexible at a point it can be adjusted if need be or when one is working on it.
7 Best Types of Wood for Raised Garden Beds
Cedar wood is the most common type of wood that is used. It is considered to be the safest wood to use in a vegetable garden since it is naturally rot-resistant. High levels of tannins produced by cedar help it to be unaffected by termites and also protect it from decay.
I have been using my cedar garden bed to grow tomatoes for quite a while now and I can confidently say it has served me very well. I was skeptical about treating the wood since I was using the garden bed to grow food.
The wood has some checking and knots that bring out every detail about it. The natural beauty blends well with the exterior. I would highly recommend the wood, especially for outdoor activities especially when it comes to raised garden beds.
Speaking of duration, cedarwood survives for over 15-20 years with no replacement. It is strong enough and bowing or warping is not likely to occur.
Cedar wood is one of the safest materials for raised garden beds.
To add on cedar has many advantages over most types of woods and maybe I can mention a few that makes it special.
Advantages of Using Cedar Wood
- Versatile wood- it can be cut and designed into good shapes and also its texture is so ideal
- Very strong and durable- for gardeners, this is very much saving than costing because I mean everything durable is lifesaving
- Naturally insect/pest resistant- the wood resilient to pests such as termites and others. This indicates that cedar can survive without being treated or maintained
- Water-resistant- cedar does not absorb water as quickly as other wood such as pine and this is so ideal during rainy seasons or while watering the plants
- Great and easy to work with-cedar wood is not hard and thus it is easy to cut or curve in case one needs changes or decides otherwise with the garden bed
- Readily available-worldwide it is available and, in most countries including the United States
Disadvantages of Cedar Wood
- Flammable – cedar is more likely to burn from oil that it contains but to avoid this one keep it away from fire and /or treat it
- Expensive – it is not affordable especially for people working on a tight budget
This is another giant wood and known well for making raised garden beds. Redwood is a fine or let’s say it’s a premium wood. The features of this wood are close and are the same as cedar.
You can consider using redwood if cedar is not available. Talk about the colors of the wood and how much beauty it brings to the surroundings.
My herbs have been prospering in the redwood garden and I love the fact that I am not worried about having them grow there. The wood produces oils that make it to be insect resistant and also does not rot so easily as compared to other wood. Redwood is also an absolute ideal wood for a vegetable garden.
Redwood is categorized as softwood and it’s durable. A wood that stays over 10 years and more is a yes for me. During climatic changes, you don’t have to worry because it copes in any season.
Redwood wood is available in most especially California where it grows extensively.
Advantages of Redwood
- Very good in retaining moisture
- Stays lively for a long period of time
- Very efficient to work with, it does not crack easily
- Elegant type of wood and looks very stylish
Disadvantages of Redwood
- Fairly expensive
- Endangered, finding the wood is rare due to demand
- Cleaning and varnish are needed to maintain it
- Juniper Wood
Juniper wood is the top in terms of durability, the approximate years it can serve without treatment is about 30-50 years. This is ideally the major reason I would choose juniper over redwood and cedar.
I mean who wouldn’t need something that would serve almost your lifetime.
Using of pressure-treated lumber is not safe and healthy to grow in plants. Juniper wood is a good choice to consider because it is chemical-free and does not produce any harmful toxins in the soil. This is very useful especially for people who want to grow veggies.
Juniper is normally referred to as cedar in that it to belongs to a genus of coniferous trees which are commonly known as cedar. However, this genus has small similarity to the true cedar of the Middle East.
Pro Tip – To build a strong and long-lasting raised garden bed from Juniper wood, use 6” by 6” lumber timber and 12-inch screws. You will need a good and powerful impact driver.
Advantages of Juniper Wood
- It is naturally resistant to bugs and rot which makes it to do well with dirt
- It is non-toxic
- It does not require treatment
- Juniper lasts for long, 30-50 years
Disadvantages of Juniper Wood
- Juniper is usually a rough-cut piece of wood which means that not all 6 by 6 are delivered in those exact dimensions. This presents the challenge of fitting the planks together without leaving any gaps.
- The timber also comes in 8 feet long planks which are quite heavy and can weigh around 65 pounds each.
- Cypress Wood
Cypress wood is uniquely attractive for its light yellowish-brown color. Old-growth cypress is very rare to find due to its high demand in the local. The wood is rated to be way more durable than cedarwood and it does a good job, no regrets working with it.
Is cypress hard or softwood? The answer is cypress is a softwood and as well as some properties in it.
It contains a natural chemical known as cypressene that helps the wood to be resistant to rot and decay.it acts as a protective coating.
Advantages Of Cypress Wood
- Fair price in the market compared to other wood such as cedar
- Creates attraction coloring makes it a good choice for a garden bed
- The wood is soft and easy to work with
- The wood is readily available
Disadvantages Of Cypress Wood
- Needs to be applied a sealant with time when it fades
- Tends to warp if not properly dried
- Oak Wood
If you a person who loves hardwood, here is a good type of hardwood that would serve you right.
The lumber has no added chemicals or preservatives and so very safe to use as a garden bed. Oakwood is so dense and can hold any weight so bowing and warping are least expected.
Comparing it with other wood oak is superb and does not rot quickly as pine wood.
Garden beds made from oak wood are so enchanting because it’s versatile and this means it requires no maintenance. You can now imagine the beauty it would bring to your compound. Oakwood comes in different types but I won’t get into much detail about the types.
Advantages of oak wood
- Hardwood and very strong
- Highly resistant to moisture
- Its versatile nature is very attractive
- Rot and decay-resistant
- Does well even in fluctuating weathers
Disadvantages of oakwood
- Heavy since it’s a hardwood and it can be difficult to transport
- Sourcing oakwood is a bit unreliable because the wood grows slower than other woods
- Douglas Fir Wood
Without a doubt, Douglas fir wood is an inexpensive wood and if you are working with a budget, this one is much cost-effective. The best thing it is locally sourced and thus sustainable to use. The brown-reddish appearance makes the wood attractive and bring beauty to ones environment.
Douglas fir produces resins that defend it from pest and also resistant to rot. You can use the wood for 10-15years without replacement. The wood is safe to be used to raise a vegetable garden since it does not withdraw toxins from the soil.it has proven to be the best woods to use.
Advantages of Douglas fir wood
- Very affordable wood, has a relatively fair price
- Highly durable and last longer compared to pine wood
- Susceptible to insects and termites
- Resistant to rot and decay
Disadvantages of Douglas fir wood
- The wood has high chance of being damaged by bad weather
- Pine Wood
Pine is the cheapest of all woods. The wood can be found in most parts of the United States. It has most added advantages over other wood such as cedar but one thing is sure it does not serve for a long period.
Pine wood is not rot-resistant and the most years that pine can serve well is up to 5 years. In some cases, other people opt to treat the wood using natural oils for a longer stay.
The lumber can be very good for a short-term project or if you are planning to stay temporarily in place and then move out. Another good thing about pine is that it is very simple to work with in terms of flexibility and this makes it easy for the gardeners.
There are many varieties of pinewood and you can use any of your choice basing on the color you would want and also the texture.
More so pine wood has benefits despite not having that one common feature that is found in most woods.
Advantages Of Using Pine Wood for Garden Beds
- Cost-effective it’s among the top woods that are inexpensive
- Readily available, the wood is very popular and also it grows in most parts
- The wood does not shrink neither does it swell
- Pinewood is very easy to work with in terms of flexibility
Disadvantages of Pine Wood
- The wood weathers quickly if used while untreated
- Less durable and needs to be replaced
Factors To Consider While Making a Raised Garden Bed
- The garden bed should be in an open space, ensure there is no hindrance such as trees remember your plants need direct sunlight.
- The width shouldn’t be so wide such that you can’t be able to access the center of the garden bed.
- The shape of the bed is very important, most people use rectangular beds with such a layout you can reach every corner.
- Give adequate spacing for each bed. Some plants grow widely such as tomatoes and some just occupy little space such as herbs. Spacing between the beds also helps to walk through the beds like when you are watering them
Materials Needed to Make a Raised Garden Bed
- Nails or Screws
- Hammer or Screw Driver
How To Build A Raised Garden Bed
- Electric Drill
- Impact Driver
- 3/16″x12″ Drill Bit
- T30 Driver Bit
- Spot a suitable place to build the garden bed it should be well leveled avoid the sloppy area
- Decide the dimensions of the raised garden bed both width and length.
- Cut the wood (whether cider, redwood, or juniper etc.) into the respective sizes. If you don’t have a good saw to cut 6” x 6” wood (or similar) you can use the services of such companies like Dunn Lumber. This is followed by arranging the wood into the desired shape of the raised garden bed.
- Drill the wood and drive the screws into them to join various planks or pieces. Make sure you have a good impact driver capable of driving 12- and 5-inch screws. A corded impact driver is more preferrable as one doesn’t have to change the batteries from time to time and recharge them. Corded impact drivers are also usually more powerful than battery powered. The timber is usually thick and one needs both muscle and tool power. Be sure to get the right size drill bit where the threads of the screw should be behind the bit rather than the shaft of the screw.
- Lay down a landscape fabric without worrying if the ground is perfectly graded and level. The weight of the lumber will eventually level it. Just use a shovel to remove and rocks or soil molds but not precisely level. The landscape fabric is a material that is used to prevent weed from growing through the raised bed. However, it allows water to flow through. It is better than using plastic because it is biodegradable too. It is not a must but very helpful. One can use two layers for more protection.
- Set up the base of the raised garden bed by laying down the first layer of wood. Adjust the fabric and tuck the edges under the wood. In all the tiers of the raised garden bed, ensure all the corners cross over each other or interlock. This should be switched back and forth to ensure the structure is stable. Be sure to have a helping hand because the timber planks are heavy.
- Pre-drill some holes in the thick wood to make it easier to drive the 12-inch (1 foot) screws which experience a lot of friction. Use an impact driver to insert the screws.
- Complete the raised garden bed in the actual place it is going to stay. It is a heavy a construction and moving it later will be a challenge. Attach the alternating wooden planks
- Add soil into the garden bed by filling with high quality potting soil/mix. It is not a good idea to fill the bed with garden soil which is low quality. Potting mix are usually well formulated including aeration. That is basically how you build a raised garden bed cheaply. Grow your plants in the raised garden bed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is It Okay Treat Wood for Raised Garden Beds?
Yes, it is very much okay to treat the wood if you want it to serve you for more years.
Although not all wood requires to be treated because they naturally produce their oil that protects them from decay and rot.
There are some non-toxic ways you can use to treat wooden garden box such as the use natural oils such as linseed, sealants, and also the use of a liner. You have to be very careful not to contaminate your plants especially if it’s a food garden.
How Tall Should A Raised Garden Be?
A garden bed should be tall enough to enhance ease of workability on it. The most ideal height should be 11’ or 12’. I made mine this tall so that I can even work on it while sitting so I don’t have to strain while bending.it is also an added advantage for people with disabilities or who have back problems.
A tall raised bed helps also in proper drainage and also gives the roots ample space to grow for example root vegetables such as potatoes.