I'm not much of a flower gardener. The couple who lived in our home before us were avid gardeners, and the house had tons of flower beds. I've removed a few because, basically, I have no idea what is what, and by the time I'm sure something is a weed, the bed is overgrown (one of these became my 10 x 10 beeyard). As each year goes by, I'm becoming more adept at picking out the weeds now, but I'm far from perfect at it. I live on a small plot of land (1/5 acre), so some of the resources that a lot of you country folks have are simply not possible in my yard.
This past year, we tilled up a patch of grass along side the house (and the flowerbed there, too) and grew some veggies and basil. We also set out herbs in big planters along the front walk of the house. The side patch did pretty well, although the back 1/3 was too shaded to grow anything, so I'm going to revert that to grass and keep the front 1/2 for veggies again.
Due to our success with something we like to grow and also can identify as a not-weed, we'd like to expand our veggie/herb garden by putting in some nice looking raised beds along the front and side of the house in the areas that get full sun.
So, to my actual question. I'm looking to put in the raised beds, but after searching the internet, I am having a tough time deciding what materials to use. Since I live in the suburbs and these beds will be exposed to the street, it has to look reasonably nice. Wood is fine, but railroad ties wouldn't be, for example.
Some websites say to use pressure treated lumber, others say it leaches toxins into the soil. We do everything organically, so chemical leaching is not something I want going on in my beds. However, I don't want to be replacing rotten pine boards every three years. Some sites said to use cedar or redwood, because they are naturally rot resistant. Would they need to be stained/treated in any way before use? This seems like the most viable option for me, a nice balance of durability and cost.
I found these recommended online, and they seem to be great for joining the corners of the beds. I'm not a woodworker, so I need it to be pretty easy. http://www.charleysgreenhouse.com/index.cfm?page=_productdetails&productid=1423&learnmore=1#lmore
Any help/ideas you can give me would be most appreciated!