What wood to use for building a raised outdoor container bed

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Nov 18, 2010
Gainesville, FL
i want to build a raised garden in my backyard.  i know i'm not supposed to use treated wood.  so what kind of wood should i use.  i've heard cedar...but in home depot it was very expensive...but i think i might have been looking at indoor cedar?

any advice? i dont wanna spend a arm and a leg
that's actually what i wanted to use....but have no clue where to find them....any idea?
If there is a RR yard  or office nearby ask them .

 We have alot of tracks here and they usually don't mind us hauling off some of the old ties when they do change outs . Alot of the bigger garden centers will have ties for sale.
I don't pretend tobe a gardening expert, but I can't see the harm in using treated wood.  I've seen hundreds of raised gardens and flower beds using RR ties.  And like AK1 said, wood doesn't get any more treated than that.
i did some reading and they say not to use ties for edible gardens because of the creosote...or plant plants atleast 6 inches from the border.

i think i'm gonna go with Cesar boards from lowes or home depot...looks like that's the only non treated lumber commonly found
We used regular treated lumber and just don't plant the edges
Do not under any circumstances use railroad ties! hey are treated with creosote and other nasty stuff. After a few years, they will contaminate the soil rendering it unplantable.

Last year, after an exhaustive search, I determined that PT wood sold at HD would not hurt the plants or my family.
I can't see how the treated wood of today can hurt anything or anybody.

It's really weak compared to the old stuff they stopped selling about 6 years ago.

I would sooner use treated wood from HD or Lowes etc, than old railroad ties.

Actually, at my previous house I just used regular 2x12 boards (either spruce, pine or fir). They lasted around 7 yrs before I had to replace them.
The most preffered natural wood would be cedar, but if you cant afford that then use the treaded wood over railroad ties. Like Bear said they have changed how they treat the wood considerably, not nearly as bad as it used to be.
I would not use railroad ties as the creosote contains PCBs. I built my garden with 6x6 CCA timbers. Nowdays PT lumber goes by ACQ. Have never had a problem with planting around them. Put them in @ 15yrs ago and have no problems with rot. Would take a pic to post but all you'll see right now is snow.
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Been using cross ties for years with no problems,but I always have 12-14 inches on the edges and till up and replace alot of the soil every couple of years.
I would'nt have a problem with using treated wood there's not much in them these days.if you are still worried you could line it with plastic.i would'nt touch railroad ties in a million years
Have to agree with the above posts about RR ties....nasty chemicals used. I debated this for weeks last year when putting in my raised bed. Finally settled on the treated lumber from HD even though the price had jumped a few bucks per board from when I first looked.....grrrr.  Got the longest they had in stock.....2X8X10 and had them cut one in half for the end caps. I put old cardboard in the bottom to keep the grass/weeds from growing up and had a nice plot. Had 2 yards of garden loam/compost mix delivered and dumped in with a little extra left in case it settled over winter. Worked great....good luck
...I just used regular 2x12 boards (either spruce, pine or fir). They lasted around 7 yrs before I had to replace them.
I used Cedar fence boards to build 12"w x 18"h x 36"long boxes for my mom.

10 of them.

Expected them to last a couple of years.

They finally failed at eight years.

Cost about $16 and 1 hour each.

No chemicals. Just some yellow wood glue and drywall screws.

Years of dill, coriander, sage, oregano etc.

I think that the daffodils and tulips finally did them in. ...
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