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Staining/painting raised beds?

The other thread on raised beds motivated me to ask a question I've been pondering for a while. I, too plan to start erecting some raised bed this year and was planning on using untreated lumber, both for the cost and health benefits. I also plan on staining/water proofing my deck this year and was hoping to use some of the stain on the raised beds. I think it would make them look great, and hopefully it would help the untreated lumber last longer. I was planning on only treating the surfaces which will NOT be in contact with the ground, but I wanted to ask here first. Is is safe to use stain on raised beds if the stain does not contact the soil? Would it be safe to use it even if it was contacting the soil, or would too many harmful chemicals leach? i don't know the makeup of today's waterproofing products.

I wouldn't be buying stain specifically for this project, rather using whatever I have left over from staining/water proofing the deck. Any insight is appreciated.
 
Dave M - Now blogging at: http://ofgardensandkitchens.blogspot.com/
Maybe, possibly that paint/stain would add a year or two to the life of your wood. It would be up to you to determine whether there was a good cost benefit ratio or not. Would spending $35.00, and the time necessary to apply that stuff, to add another year to the life be worth it?
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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Personaly i wouldn't paint anything that's near my growing space, even though it's not in contact with the soil. There is rain, sun and other things you want to consider.
 
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Do I understand that raised bed should NOT be built from pressure-treated lumber? My thought would be NOT to use it but my carpenter husband has other ideas. What kind of structure/wood do most of you use for raised beds? Do they simply sit on the ground or do you anchor them in some way?

My hub is "old school" Italian and if it's not what his mother did it's "weird" so I need solid ideas to convince him this is better.
 
Take me home Country Roads to the place I belong...
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I would definitely "NOT" use pressure-treated lumber. I have used cedar, plain old pine, and some of the 4" wide cement blocks in various sections.

For T-Quilt's husband: http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/lumber.html
 
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Kimm, as I said in my previous post I will have already purchased the stain for my deck, so there really would be no cost involved. If I applied the stain with a rollr, it should only take a few seconds per board.

Barbie, not using pressure treated lumber comes from a few years ago when prssure treated lumber was lced with arsenic and other chemicals to help protect it from damage. Over time those chemicals leached into the ground. Supposedly to day these chemicals aren't used anymore but I'd still stay away from it. How can you ever be really sure what's in it and how it will affect you? I've always just used untreated pine lumber for anything in my garden. I just place right on the ground where I want it. You may get 4-5 years out of it before it rots too much for use. Other, more rot resistant (and expensive) types of are out there, like cedar.
 
Dave M - Now blogging at: http://ofgardensandkitchens.blogspot.com/
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I've been using SYP (sustainable, of course) 2X8s for several years. Treating the outside will have absolutely no effect on the lifetime of the lumber. Unless your building tons of beds the price is relatively cheap if you using framing lumber.

Dirt
 
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Dave, even though you have the paint/stain on hand there is a cost involved and even though it may only take a few seconds to apply to each board there is a labor cost, and this is what your need to determine is worthwhile. The SPF lumber I used some years back lasted 10 years, ground contact, before they needed to be replaced and a friend applied a "wood preservative" to some wood about the same time and they lasted just as long and no longer so was that worth the time and effort to apply the "wood preservative"?
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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Dave, if you must put something on the wood, just use plain old raw linseed oil. It will help some to preserve and it donn't come much more organic that that.
The new treated lumber is "Treated" with what, who knows, the only difference I can see is that its a different color and there are no warnings to use gloves when handeling.
 
Experienced By Doing
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I've been using 8 x 8 x 16 concrete block, one row/layer high. Have some old vinyl siding about 18" high to give height to the beds. Seems to work well. I do have some salvaged wood I managed to get from contractors but it is treated lumber. Now, I'm afraid to use it. I had thought about laying it on top of my gravel driveway to let the rain de-contaminate it, but then I worry about where the contaminates would go?? So..what do you do?
 
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In defense of my "old school" hubby. I showed him the info and he knew all about it...see, should have known he'd know. He's Mr. Handyman and works at Lowe's so really is on top of all that stuff. ANYHOO>>>>thanks for all the info and we've got our garden plan 80% done today. WHOOHOO>>>is it really too early to plant?!!?! Shucks!
 
Take me home Country Roads to the place I belong...
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I've always done my garden in French Intensive Gardening. I just shovel the dirt out of the trench into the bed & then smooth it out for planting. I then dump mulch on it & there's a slight depression where the trench is, so I know where to walk.
If I were going ot use wood to hold the sides, I'd use plain old 1xwhatever & not treat them. I'd hold them w/ a stake at each end. When they rotted, I'd slip another board on the outside & let them become part of the garden bed. They'll hold water well & grow beneficial fungi. I like to use the KISS principle myself.

Hope everyone is holding up under the weather & planning your gardens! I just resisted a $20 seed order. Promised myself that I won't use my credit card till it's paid off! Then I"m buying my garden seeds!
 
Planning to be a Cancer survivor!!! No trees were killed or animals harmed in the sending of this message; however a great many electrons were horribly inconvenienced.
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I don't think there should be anything wrong with staining the outside of the boards. When I had wood boxes for raised beds I painted the outside to match the house.
 
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I was also going to build some garden boxes but I had 3 old entertainment centers (made from alder)in my garage that I was going to get rid of and realized that they would be great garden boxes. They have been stained- can I use them for garden boxes? Do I need to sand them down first? Does anybody know...
 
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Dave, cinder blocks are really great for raised beds. they can be rearranged if you change your mind, they can be added to, and they last forever, are not nearly as expensive as wood.

Also, wood will eventually be a home to termites, and that means they will be close to your house. Kind of scary to be giving them easy access. Smiler

You can fill up the holes with soil and plant there, too. Or you can fill up the holes with 3/4 drain rock which will hold the heat, and if your longest side is facing south (in the Northern hemisphere) it will help heat up and keep warm the soil nearest those blocks.

Check out YouTube for some very good looking cinder block raised beds.
 
============= Love your soil.....feed your worms... (Used to be Sweetpea, contributing here since 2002)
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hmm... maybe i'll frame my 2nd community garden plot w/ cinder block...

sheesh, it's 20 x 5...tic tic tic... that calculates to... Razzer
 

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Willemette Valley Oregon, 7A?  Member since 2005

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What about one layer of flat cement blocks for the first layer and then wood on top of that for the rest? What is SYP and SPF lumber?
 

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 Have a great gardening day! hoe, hoe, hoe Pea

 Upstate NY, zone 5

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