mtgarden gal
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Best lumber for raised beds? Possible to get for free?

Hi all!
I would love to make raised beds for next summer if I can do it cheaply. So, here's a few questions:

What kind of wood is best to use?
The wood should be completly untreated, yes?
Can anyone suggest places/business/etc where I could find wood or lumber scraps for the purpose of making raised beds for free or very low cost?

Do I live in lala land by hoping I could get this wood for free? :shock:

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rainbowgardener
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If you can get it cedar is great wood to use, because very rot resistant. But expensive.

I use 4x4" pine fence posts because they are cheap. I use a wood sealer on mine to help them last.

You can check freecycle.com and craigslist.com for free wood, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Wood is expensive these days, so people are less likely to be giving it away.

I personally don't think it's worth worrying about getting untreated wood, which is a lot harder to find and more expensive. People used to worry about that because they used to treated wood with arsenic. That's been years ago now though. Current treatments are much less harmful. I can't say absolutely non-toxic, but not enough for me to worry about in the tiny quantities we would be talking about. But sealing the wood also helps keep the whatever they treat it with in the wood, not in your garden.
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mtgarden gal
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ok thanks for the great info!! :D

Charlie MV
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Expense is relative and regional. My first choice would be that PVC fake lumber that docks are made from now. It will last forever. I can't afford it.

In our neck of the woods cypress is cheap and available.

Cedar may be more reasonable in your area. We export yellow pine to Japan and there it's the most expensive wood there is.

I love building with purple heart but it's really pricey. In parts of South America houses are framed with it.

I would check with your local lumber yard and see if there is a reasonably priced lumber that weather's well and is affordable.[/img]

SOB
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To help maybe put things into perspective, I built mine (in Ohio) this spring and it cost me about $150 total for wood. They are 8'x10' and 8'x12' and made from two pressure treated 2"x6"s stacked. Bout the same price for 2"x12"s if we went that route.

Also make sure you get the right screws (or nails) that are for treated lumber or else they rust and rot the wood.

Oh, and rainbow is right, the pressure treated lumber doesnt use the arsenic anymore. Actually more like 15-20 years. The process is mainly a salt water pressure treating now if I'm not mistaken.

mtgarden gal
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Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2011 5:46 pm
Location: Southern Montana

thanks Charlie for the information!
Thanks, SOB too! How many did you make for the $150? Just the two? those sound pretty big. I'm not sure yet how big I want to make mine. Oh and thanks for the heads up on the screws or nails!

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rainbowgardener
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Usually raised beds are made 4' X something. That's because part of the idea is not to walk on your soil and compact it. 4' wide is about as much as most people can reach into from the sides and be able to weed etc.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

SOB
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Yes, I made just the two. Also, after thinking about it, they cost about $125 for all the lumber.

Also, as rainbow states, beds are typically only 4' wide. I decided not to follow this as it saved on lumber costs. I would have had to have 4 more 16' 2"x6"s and 4 more 12' 2"x6"s which would have been about 50 bucks maybe? I just make sure I have one pathway down the middle of each bed and the rest doesnt get walked on. Plus, I'm a tall guy and can pretty much reach the stuff planted 4' into the bed, the walkway is more for the wife.

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paul1149
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Location: NY

Once source could be residential remodeling companies, which typically do a lot of demo when they renovate. You'd have to either call around or stop at job sites when you see them. You're looking for old floor or ceiling joists, or rafters, which usually measure 2x6-12. When cutting, you need to be very careful about embedded nails. Wear safety glasses.

Alternatively, a municipal dump or recycling center can be a source of all kinds of awesome things. Not related, but I got a 15' x 42" vinyl pool last week, in perfect shape. At 4500 gallons, it would be a great reservoir for collecting roof water. But I don't own here so I'll have to either sell it or bring it back.

Here in NY, my entire garden is raised bed on ledge rock. When I planted two apple trees nearby, the amount of rocks I had to dig out was enormous. But they were pretty rectangular and of good shape, so I'm slowly using them to edge the beds I carve out. But really, you don't need to edge the beds at all. Just slope the soil at the sides a bit, and mulch. Hard edges are nice, but not necessary.

be blessed,
p.

carol_in_va
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Location: Virginia

Not sure if this is an option for you, but figured I'd throw it out there... We live on wooded acreage and when we cleared an area for the garden we used the trees we took down to make the beds. My husband used a chainsaw to make saddle notches to stack the logs, but that can also be done with an ax. We live in a log house, so they fit the feel of the place perfectly. :D
The cost (free) was pretty perfect, too. :wink: :lol:

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