I am interested in building a raised garden bed in my backyard for veggies. I’ve been reading DIY articles about using cheap, reclaimed wood to make them; however, I know that we are not supposed to use treated lumber to prevent any contamination in the soil for the veggies. I’ve checked on craigslist and have found beautiful reclaimed barn wood options, but I probably shouldn’t use that because they’re treated, right? Can you think of any places I can find affordable lumber to make my beds?
You raise a good question, Liz.
Before 2003 lumber was treated with a preservative containing arsenic, which you definitely didn’t want in your garden. Since then, treated lumber does not contain arsenic, but the new preservative does contain copper. That doesn’t sound as scary, but I’d still opt for a different material for a vegetable garden.
Cedar is naturally resistant to rot and decay, and makes for a long lasting, preservative-free wood for raised garden beds. Look for non-treaded boards with certifications, like Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), to ensure environmentally responsible sourcing when selecting cedar.
As for using reclaimed wood, I’m all for it. Old barn wood has a lot of character – and it just makes you feel cool. You’re right to question whether it’s been treated and I really can’t answer that – you’d have to ask the seller. Other interesting reclaimed, and most likely untreated, materials would be old palettes and box crates.
Regardless of the wood you use, a liner can be used if you’re still concerned about what’s in your wood. Landscape fabric (look for one made with recycled materials) not only creates a barrier between your soil and the wood, it blocks any weeds that lurk below.