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Author Topic: Raised Beds  (Read 2607 times)
Moonshae
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« on: January 07, 2008, 12:40:22 PM »

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!

Thanks!
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2008, 01:31:00 PM »

Any wood will rot when exposed to moist soil, it is just a matter of how long it takes...I have some old black redwood that was a deck for 25 years.

I have some old pressure treated 2x 12's that I use, but it was in use for a flower box longer, so I think any leaching would be done.  If you are concerned, you could always line the sides with some plastic.  Price is always an issue with me.

Speaking of plastic...what about the plastic or fake wood decking that is available now?  I would think that that would last a very long time but still be cheaper than redwood...

Rick
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Rick
danno
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2008, 03:52:52 PM »

I use 2X6 treated tongue and grove with cemented 4x4posts every 4 feet. Tongue and glove stays strait.  Two sections are 18" -24" high and are about 20 years old now. I pressure wash them every couple of years along with my decks and they still look as good as they they when I built them.  Here is link to a good page on treated lumber and gardening
http://www.taunton.com/finegardening/pages/g00028.asp
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reinbeau
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2008, 05:01:39 PM »

Back over 25 years ago my father built me seven raised beds from pressure treated 2x12's.  Each bed is 4'x12'.  I know you shouldn't use PT wood, but we did, in our ignorance.  I had my soil tested and no appreciable levels of the bad stuff showed up, and I haven't killed my family yet with what has been grown and eaten, however, I do have to say that I wouldn't do it again.  Nowadays I guess they've changed the forumulation of whatever they treat the wood with so supposedly it isn't as toxic, but....I'd build mine with some kind of cement block if I was going to do it again.  More expensive, but far more trustworthy, in my mind.
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2008, 05:16:29 PM »

i made my wife raised beds 4'x10' about 5 years ago with 4x4 cedar stacked and spiked together every few feet.  no sign of wear yet.  wife is very happy with them.   when the FIRST batch of pressure  treated came on the market everybody said it was safe and they made all kinds of vegetable garden structures from compost bins to raised beds.  even kiddy swings.  years later they tell us NOT to use PT for gardens or swings. it IS toxic and the worst offenders are compost bins due to the heat created which accelerates the leaching.   you want to trust these same people again with the 2nd generation pressure treated be my guest.   not me!   burn me once shame on you , burn me twice shame on me!
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2008, 05:36:04 PM »

cedar and redwood are kind of pricey....especially for that use. they might be more expensive than concrete blocks. they sell these blocks that lock together. lemme see if I can find a link. hang on.
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productList&Ne=7000&category=Retaining+Wall+Block&N=0+5000730

ok...so theres an example of what I'm talking about. they sell this stuff at Lowes and HD. I think they look great and they will last a long time. i'm sure they cost a lot.
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Moonshae
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2008, 06:57:56 PM »

I don't think the retaining wall stones fit in my budget. I think I'm going to price the cedar/redwood and the recycled plastic wood; both have been recommended by an organic gardener that I trust.

Thanks!
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KONASDAD
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2008, 11:16:39 AM »

I built one raised bed last year. I made it out of 4x4's and nailed it  on inside corners w/ corner (L-shaped)hardware from Home depot. Very easy and cheap. It took me about an hour to build. Layed it where i wanted it, leveled and filled. My mistake was making it too wide. I will be building more this spring and making rows of raised beds.
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« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2008, 01:13:25 AM »

I would recommend using 4X4s and lapping the ends like bricks.  Make the bed so you can reach the otherside of the side you're on--2-3 feet.  3 layers of 4X4s will make a very nice looking, very durable, raised bed.
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2-Wheeler
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2008, 09:27:04 PM »

The raised beds have done very well for us. We built them with 2x10 Cedar, which you probably can't find at the local Home Depot or Lowes. We had to go to a specialty lumber-yard to find it. It also cost a bit more, but ours have been in the ground for more than 5 years now and they nearly look as good as when we put them in. They are all natural and we've put nothing on them.

Here is a shot of the construction:


And here is a shot in early spring before everything grows up and covers them.


More pictures of my garden boxes
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Cindi
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2008, 09:12:20 AM »

David, oooh, that is nice, what wonderful beds they are for sure.  You can plant a whole heap of stuff in something like that, and easy to keep weeds under control too, yea!!!!  Have a great day, Cindi
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Kev
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« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2008, 07:33:06 PM »

Wow those are nice,

we went on the cheap and used a trex knock-off.

kev
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