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Considerations for Using Pine Wood for Raised Garden Beds

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Pine is one of those woods that you can pretty much find anywhere. It grows quickly and can easily be sourced at any home improvement store on a budget. But, should you use pine wood for raised garden beds? There are several things you would want to consider before doing so.

raised garden bed made of pine planks

Can you use pine wood for raised garden beds? You can use pine wood for garden beds but, because it is not treated or naturally rot-resistant, your beds will have a shorter lifespan than other wood types available.

The two biggest factors when choosing the right wood for your raised garden beds are:

  • Is it safe?
  • How long will it last?

Is Pine Safe for Garden Beds?

First and foremost, anytime you are growing your own food you want to make sure that the materials you are using are safe. With raised garden beds, there are a lot of options.

You can use a wide variety of natural wood types with no treatments or preservatives, you can choose pressure treated wood and use a liner, or you can choose a non-organic option like sheet metal or composite.

Whatever the case may be, you’re looking to make sure that you minimize risk of any toxic chemicals leaching into your fruits and vegetables.

Natural pine is just that, natural. In the absence of any stain, sealers, or preservatives, it is safe to use in your garden. The problem with natural pine is durability.

Durability of Pine Garden Beds

pine planks

As I mentioned, untreated pine is going to deteriorate faster than some other available wood types but, it’s still a great option for a temporary location.

Figure on getting around 5 years of use out of your garden beds if you choose to go with untreated wood. You’ll start to see some deterioration and rotting over the years but, you should be able to get at least that long out of them.

Of course, this is also highly dependent on your particular area and climate. Untreated pine boards in wetter soils are going to rot faster than the same boards installed in dryer climates.

Improving Durability & Rot Resistance

There is another option when it comes to using pine wood for raised beds that I want to touch base on. You can always paint it, stain it and/or seal it. Any of these options will help improve durability of the wood and make it less likely to rot.

Of course, you’ll likely want to line the inside of the beds if you go this route but, on the up side, lining your raised garden beds will serve as an additional barrier to protect the wood from the moisture of the soil. That means, once again, it will help prevent the wood from rotting.

Cheapest Naturally Rot Resistant Woods

If economics are the primary inspiration for looking at pine versus a naturally more rot resistant wood like cedar, there are some other things you might consider for keeping your beds economical to build while using materials that are naturally rot resistant.

Check Craigslist

One of the biggest things you can do is look for free or cheap cedar fence panels, sections or planks offered on sites like Craigslist or even Facebook.

Often, when someone is constructing a new fence, they’ll offer the existing fence at free or very cheap price. Mostly they just want someone to take the old fence away.

In the case of a cedar fence, or even something like redwood, oak, or Douglass fir, you’ll be a lot better off than using pine.

Does Your Lumber Yard have a Scraps Pile

young lad looking for planks in wood storage

Check with your hardware store or local lumber yard to see if they have a scraps or returns pile at a discount. Sometimes wood is returned for being warped or perhaps was cut using the in store cutter and the scraps remained.

If this is the case, especially in the case of warped wood, you may be able to secure boards for your project at a discount.

Consider Alternate Materials

Craigslist and Facebook are going to be your friends here as well but, keep an eye out for alternate materials that may be available free or cheap online. Some materials that can be great for raised garden beds include:

  • Sheet Metal
  • Leftover Composite Decking
  • Bricks
  • Railroad Ties

Depending on the material, you may still choose to line it but, free or next to free is much more economical than paying for brand new wood from the big box stores.

To Recap

  • Yes, you can use untreated pine for your raised garden beds.
  • Treat your pine to get longer life out of it.
  • Consider using a naturally rot resistant wood if you are able to.
  • Don’t overlook materials other than wood for your garden beds.

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