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RE: Raised Garden Bed Materials

  • Subject: RE: [cg] Raised Garden Bed Materials
  • From: "Jack Hale" <jackh@knoxparks.org>
  • Date: Mon, 26 Apr 2004 10:56:50 -0400
  • Importance: Normal

We have been using recycled plastic landscape timbers for years to build raised beds.  We haven’t used any of the kits.

Unfortunately, our supplier, after an atrocious string of bad luck, has gone bankrupt, so we are looking for an alternate product.

1.                   We most recently paid $11 for 8-foot 3X5 timbers.  We typically purchased a couple hundred timbers at a time.  The factory was just an hour from here, so we picked them up ourselves – cost was staff time and gas.  We put our beds together with 6-inch galvanized spiral deck spikes.  Each 4x8 bed, 3 layers high, uses 28 spikes.

2.                   As far as we can tell, the timbers are immortal, although they can break if you back into them with a car.

3.                   Construction was easy, particularly since the timbers bend a bit and will thus help you deal with a level of inaccuracy in cutting.  We used a circular saw for cutting.  A chop saw is a nice touch, particularly if you want to cut angles.  Sometimes we pre-drilled holes, but if we had some beefy folks who could swing a 2-lb. hammer, we didn’t bother.

4.                   The plastic lumber is somewhat heavier than pressure treated pine.  In some people’s minds, it is also uglier – ours is a kind of medium gray color.  But then it doesn’t split, splinter, or warp, and, as far as I know, it doesn’t release any nasties into the soil.

5.                   See above

6.                   I was famous in the recycled plastics business for a little while when our supplier went out of business.  Plastics World magazine called me up for a reaction, and published a story.  A good number of manufacturers called me looking for business.  I don’t know any well to tell them apart just yet, but we’ll see.

7.                   The kits I have seen seem a bit over-engineered for our purposes – they are more appropriate for small scale or back yard use.  I’ll be interested to hear what people come up with.


Jack Hale

Hartford, CT


-----Original Message-----
From: community_garden-admin@mallorn.com [mailto:community_garden-admin@mallorn.com]On Behalf Of Connie Nelson
Sent: Sunday, April 25, 2004 12:30 AM
To: community_garden@mallorn.com
Subject: [cg] Raised Garden Bed Materials


I know we've had this discussion before from different angles, but I still have a question or two.


For various and sundry reasons, I'm investigating use of "plastic lumber" in the use of 4 X 8 foot garden beds.  There are a bizillion different places that sell these kits for use in raised beds. 


If you have experience in this material, would you please address one or more of the following questions?


Have any of you tried these and:

1) what was the cost (include both the kit cost and transportation)

2) how long did they last

3) were they easy to put up

4) was the weight similar to wood products (or lighter, heavier)

5) were they easy to cut if you needed to make changes

6) are there any companies you actively recommend or conversely, strongly suggest avoiding

7) any other suggestions / comments you might have?


What I'm hunting for here is practical experience consensus.  Hopefully by tapping into the listserv's expertise, I can find that agreement.


Thanks for helping!


Connie Nelson

Spokane, WA

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