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raised-bed Advice needed on raised beds...

ThrowHeat

eXtreme
After seeing how our backyard handled the colder months, as well as the spring thaw, I've reached the conclusion that building raised beds in our designated garden space makes the most sense.  With all the snow that got dumped on us over the winter, it resulted in a lot of soggy, muddy ground all throughout our backyard when it all melted away.  Our soil also has A LOT of clay content, which is one of the other factors that has me leaning towards raised beds.

But now that I'm researching the materials I will need to build our raised beds, I'm reading a lot of conflicting information on what types of lumber are safe to use.  Some websites have said that using any type of pressure treated wood for raised garden beds is bad, while others have said there is no health risk as long as you use the right kind of lumber.  There have also been some websites that have suggested using cheaper non-PT lumber, and just rebuilding your raised beds every few years.  I just don't know how keen on that idea, since my main goal is to build raised beds that will last for several years.

Now this is where suggestions from you guys (and gals) would be much appreciated.  Before I even pull the trigger on buying any materials to build our raised beds, I would like to get some input from people who have already been down this road.  Thanks, in advance.

 
 
Check out some old glogs. Chris Joyner built some raised beds for his grow 2 or 3 years ago and documented it in his glog. I built some in my glog early last year too.
 
Jeff H said:
Check out some old glogs. Chris Joyner built some raised beds for his grow 2 or 3 years ago and documented it in his glog. I built some in my glog early last year too.
Will do.  Thanks!
:cheers:
 
Cinder blocks are an option as well. I've currently got one raised bed built using them and it's working great. Added bonus is the holes can be filled and planted in as well.
 
MeatHead1313 said:
Cinder blocks are an option as well. I've currently got one raised bed built using them and it's working great. Added bonus is the holes can be filled and planted in as well.
I just saw a raised bed using cinder blocks in one of the glogs I was checking out, and I thought about trying it.  My only concern though is that they might sink during the spring thaw.
 
RedtailForester said:
Hey there big guy! I've been using treated landscape ties for years. The only drawback is you need to replace them from time to time. Otherwise they are cheap and durable.
I like cheap and durable. :dance: 

Now when you need to replace them with new landscape ties, do you have to replace all of them?  Or do you just replace the ones that have deteriorated?

Also, would building a hoop house help to extend their life a bit?
 
After reading similar stuff about treated wood and having the same type of heavy clay soil I came to the same conclusion JH. I built my raised beds 3 years ago out of 2x12 cedar
boards from Menards. Have three beds that are 6 by 6 and four beds that are 4x8. Each bed cost about $60 all told (boards, hardware) and all are still in great shape. People told me treated boards would be ok,and would have cost less but I figured with my kids eating the produce cedar was worth the extra dough.
 
Scuba_Steve said:
Mine are made from cedar, although they are prefabs. 
 
How big are they and how much did you pay for them?  If the price is right, I wouldn't mind going with some prefab garden beds.
 
 
 
 
SmokenFire said:
After reading similar stuff about treated wood and having the same type of heavy clay soil I came to the same conclusion JH. I built my raised beds 3 years ago out of 2x12 cedar boards from Menards. Have three beds that are 6 by 6 and four beds that are 4x8. Each bed cost about $60 all told (boards, hardware) and all are still in great shape. People told me treated boards would be ok,and would have cost less but I figured with my kids eating the produce cedar was worth the extra dough.
 
That's my primary concern with treated wood right there.  Since the wife and I are aiming to have a kid in the next few years, we don't want to feed them food that might cause health issues in the future.  I'm more than willing to spend more for that peace of mind.

Spending around $60 per raised bed isn't that bad either, IMO.  If we can build ten 4' x 4' beds this year for around that much, we'll be golden.
 
I know that these are not your normal raised beds, but these are what I have used for my larger palms & plants... I plan to use them this year for larger pepper plants also...
They may not work for what you are looking to do, but maybe others could use the idea...
I get the cut-off pieces of plastic drain pipe from contractors in the area... They usually are glad to have someone haul the scraps off, as it costs them to dispose of them.... I try to get 15" to 24" diameter pipe if possible...
 
IMG_20150415_090341_zpsyjewcm7d.jpg

 
IMG_20150415_090435_zpsplgsmurt.jpg

 
I just set it on the concrete so you can see it better... I cut the pipes into 16" - 18" sections and then if needed, I drill 3/8" holes in the lower valleys for extra drainage... Where I live here in Central Florida the ground is mostly sand, so drainage is not a problem out the bottom... This way I don't have to add compost to soil that I am not using and when the growing season is over, it is easy to flip over and save the soil for the next planting... With the proper preparation and equipment, you can also move them around while planted...
 
JuanHubero said:
 
How big are they and how much did you pay for them?  If the price is right, I wouldn't mind going with some prefab garden beds.
 
 
 
 
 
That's my primary concern with treated wood right there.  Since the wife and I are aiming to have a kid in the next few years, we don't want to feed them food that might cause health issues in the future.  I'm more than willing to spend more for that peace of mind.

Spending around $60 per raised bed isn't that bad either, IMO.  If we can build ten 4' x 4' beds this year for around that much, we'll be golden.
 
This isn't the actual product I bought, but same brand.  It is a better buy IMO because it is deeper.  Also the configuration shown is not all you can do.  You can setup a row, an L, a U shape, or whatever you want.  In fact their configuration limits the size more than if you went with a single row or an L or U.  There are 16 corners, and 20 sides.  You could make 6 4x4 beds with that, and still have an extra side and 2 corners left over.  You could buy a cheap 4x4x7.5 kit just for the side boards to fill up the 7th 10.5" bed.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Greenes-Fence-80-sq-ft-Dovetail-Raised-Bed-Garden-Kit-RC12T8S64B/203615999
 
Phil said:
Very nice... $.99 is a spectacular price for those!
$1.97 isn't bad either, IMO.  But I'd even be willing to pay twice that for 10' landscaping tinders, if they even exist.  That would allow me to build 4' x 4' raised beds without a ton of scrap wood left over when I'm done.
 
I built 2 3'x4' raised bed out of Home Depot: 5/4 in. x 6 in. x 16 ft. Premium Radius Edge Cedar Lumber which run $19.57 each here. Mine are 3 boards high (18") which I like the height of costing me $58.71 plus tax. I didn't use any fancy corner connectors. I used some other cedar I had which I cut down to make 2x4's that I used on the inside of the corners and midway down on the long sides. Cutting extra pieces of the decking into 4" wide pieces and doubling them up would make 2x4's also. I placed the beds on bricks (just the wood perimeter to keep it off of the ground) which raised it another 2" or so. I coated the wood with some spar varnish to help protect it and have been pleased with the beds. They are not too heavy to move (when empty) and look good also. The cedar is very easy to work with. My problems with landscape timbers is they are always random and irregular and that makes building with them more time consuming. If you are just using a couple of layers that may not be and issue. The ones I have edging some flower beds seem to rot out every 3 or so years and I have to replace them raising their cost. My cedar is 4 years old and going strong.
 
Cinder blocks.
 
Cheap, last forever, easy to re-arrange.
 
If they 'sink'; pick them up, put a little dirt/sand/gravel/whatever under them and, there you are.
 
Also, if you place them holes up, and fill the holes with soil, you have two more small planting spaces per block.
 
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