Rotten Raised Bed

The raised bed that held the garlic bit the dust while I was using a fork to loosen their roots.  This wood is pine, and was only about 4 years old.  Can anyone tell me how long cedar would have lasted?  If you have direct experience with using it, that would be great.

Also, is it safe to use those new recycled composite plastic deck boards to surround a food garden raised bed, or would they leach yuckies into my dirt?  Anyone ever research that?


7 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by thebeadden on June 27, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I am not sure how long cedar lasts, but my sister has had her raised beds built out of it and after three years it still looks like it is holding it’s own. No sign of rot anywhere.


  2. Pine not a good choice unless it is temporary – cedar will last much longer but as with any wood, time moisture and exposure will eventually break it down too. Check see if you can get treated wood, but verify that is not treated with toxic chemicals.

    Redwood and bald cypress may work as well or better than cedar.

    Borate-treated Wood

    Wood treated with disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT borates) is decay and insect resistant and is safe to use around food plants. Slight leaching of the borates may occur, which can affect plants’ growth. DOT is not poisonous to humans or pets, but it will kill fish and aquatic plants if it leaches into water. Do not use DOT lumber near ponds.

    Read more: Safe Wood for Vegetable Gardens |


    • I have my suspicions regarding the safety of anything that says it is poisonous to fish and aquatic plants. But I admit I’m very cynical when I read things that are designed to convince me to buy something that is impregnated with chemicals.


  3. Recycled plastic lumber does not leach stuff out into the soil, so it is generally considered quite safe for vegetable gardens.

    We had problems with our wood edgings rotting out too. Cedar lasts quite well, we use it for fence posts and it appears to last indefinitely in that application, so I would think that it would be a good choice. I would NEVER use redwood for anything since buying the wood creates a demand which leads to the devastation of the redwood forests in suppoying that demand. Same problem with teak — even if you buy teak that is being raised in an ecologically sound plantation, you are still creating a demand for the product that is supplied by poachers.

    What we eventually went with after replacing the wood boards for the third time was concrete block. It lasts forever essentially, and has the added value that as the beds fill up with wonderful dirt you can add another layer of block. On several of our beds we are on the second layer. Eventually we will have block that is stacked three high, and then we will have gardens that will be easy to work when we are old and can’t bed over as easily as we can now.


  4. I built my raised beds with Redwood. Redwood will last quite some time.


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