How do you choose the best wood for raised bed gardening?
I’m here to help because if you’re shopping at most local home improvement stores there’s really only two choices, these include pine and cedar.
Types of wood like oak, cypress, and redwood can also be great options because they’re dense and long lasting.
However, most retailers would need to special order these materials.
Which means a minimum order would probably be required and it could be pricey.
Sometimes it’s difficult to justify an expensive wood purchase for gardening when you know it will end up living in your backyard where it will eventually rot…
For most gardeners, they choose between pine and cedar. I like both, what about you?
Let’s begin with pine. It’s always my first go to because it’s affordable and when cared for properly it can last up 5 and 6 years.
If the exterior is left untreated you can bet those boards will be toast around 3 or 4 years depending on your climate.
Let me go into further detail…
The 2 x 6 Pine Board for Raised Beds
The 2 x 6 pine boards have been my favorite for a long time. I used them at our farm and added them to my garden at Quail Grove.
Untreated 8 ft. boards will run between six and seven dollars each; prices will vary based on where you shop.
Treated pine will be more expensive and using this material to grow is a personal choice, so select what works best for you.
With that being said, you’ll notice on my blog I’m a fan of stain and painted raised beds.
To Learn More, Get Those Details Here:
To build one 2 ft. x 4 ft. or one 2 ft. x 6 ft. frame using pine and 8 screws, you’re looking at spending under $15.00.
The 2 x 4 Pine Board for Raised Beds
I borrowed Robert’s hand to point out wood size so you can see, there’s a significant difference between the 2 x 6 and 2 x 4 boards.
I also really like the 2 x 4 boards because they look awesome in the garden.
I’ve used them stacked and intermixed with the 2 x 6 pine as this adds a little interest to any growing space.
I’m all about a pretty garden display…
Longevity is the same and the only real difference is price per board. Keep in mind they may be less expensive but you’re not getting the same jump in height.
These boards normally run anywhere between $2.50 and $4.00 each depending on the quality.
Someday I’m going to have a pallet delivered because every time I go to purchase the price goes up…
To build one 2 ft. wide x 4 ft. long frame or one 2 ft. x 6 ft. using pine and 8 screws you’re looking at spending under $10.00.
Now, I have a post on the blog where you can build two 2 x 4 raised bed frames for under $10.
When I wrote that, about three years ago that was completely true and can still be true today if you purchase lower quality 2 x 4’s or get your wood on sale.
Keep in mind the lower quality isn’t horrible you just have to choose carefully and make sure it’s not warped.
Little Tip: Wood normally goes on sale during a three-day weekend like Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Pine Landscaping Timbers for Raised Beds
Landscaping timbers are almost like a 4 x 4 and I love these.
You can use them in a variety of ways and connect best by drilling holes and securing corners with screw bolts.
Or you can do something fun like this tall raised bed here.
The thing with landscaping timbers is they warp fast so use them right away. They’ll last about 6 – 7 years in the form of a raised bed if treated on the exterior.
Untreated your looking at about 4 – 5 years. Again, this will be based on your climate, for me that’s wet and hot with humidity with strange winters.
These 8/10 ft. timbers will cost around $3.50 – $4 each.
Wood Width is Overlooked
Before we move onto cedar, I want to chat about wood width for all varieties.
When making your purchase it can get expensive no matter what you decide, especially if you’re installing a lot of beds.
Don’t skimp on width regardless of the price difference.
I’ve seen new and established gardeners choose 1-inch boards for raised beds, or worse they use recycled pallet wood.
These beds won’t last long, one or two years if you’re lucky and after one season they begin to warp because they’re not strong enough to hold large amounts of soil.
That’s why these boards work best for small planter boxes.
What happens, is the soil is dry then moist and repeats this cycle from one month to the next and the wood begins to expand and contract.
It’s not pretty and you’ll end up starting over or giving up on raised beds or gardening all together.
This can leave a negative experience because things didn’t turn out how you envisioned.
My advice, don’t cut corners to save a buck because it will cost you more in the long run…
Instead, start small with quality wood.
This means add one or two raised beds as tall or short as you want and then explore gardening before taking the plunge on a larger growing space.
Raised beds can be incorporated any time of year, which means you don’t need to do all the work at once.
I promise, the garden police won’t come and get you if you only begin with one or two raised beds.
So, slow down, don’t skimp, learn as you grow and enjoy the process…
The 4 x 4 Cedar Board for Raised Beds
Cedar is amazing but holy cow is it ever pricey, to give you an idea these 4 x 4 10 ft. cedar boards begin at $32.00 each.
If you don’t plan on moving from your present location and have the money to invest then I highly recommend cedar.
Cedar will last between 10 and 15 years, pretty awesome right?
Cedar is what I plan using in my next garden because I’m praying that will be our last move.
The 2 x 6 Cedar Board for Raised Beds
The 2 x 6 cedar board is on my radar for my next garden. That plan calls for several raised beds established with two or three frames each.
Here’s My Plan:
- For growing vegetables and herbs use 2 x 6 cedar built into 2 x 4 frames stacked 3 high.
- For growing cut flowers and berries use 2 x 6 cedar built into 2 x 6 frames stacked 2 high.
This is probably a couple years off but friends, I can hardly wait… I’m already planning that garden where I will also raise more quail…
So, let’s break down cedar to price per 8 ft board, well get this they vary between $16 – $25 each.
At $16 building one 2 ft. x 4 ft. frame or one 2 ft. x 6 ft. using cedar and 8 screws you’re looking at spending around $38.
Ouch, pricey, absolutely!
Is it worth it? This will depend on your goals…
When we finally settle, I have specific goals waiting on me so using cedar wood will be the best choice for my next garden.
When choosing the best wood for your raised bed project be realistic but most of all don’t settle on flimsy wood.
Have a great day and leave me a comment for additional questions or thoughts.
Smiles and Sunshine, Carole West