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RE: raised bed materials

  • Subject: [cg] RE: raised bed materials
  • From: "Tom Dietrich" <tdietrich@metroparks.org>
  • Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 15:03:28 -0500


I have been battling with the same issues here in Dayton.  I have found some
plastic products in good dimensions for raised beds, but yes indeed they are
expensive.  There are 2 x10's and 6 x 6's but very heavy and not locally
available, so shipping is costly too.

In regards to wood, the new treated lumber, called "ACQ", is supposed to be
non-toxic to humans, unlike its predecessor CCA which had chromium and
arsenic in it.  Has anyone heard any  reports on ACQ that discredit this?

About ACQ, you need to use special fasteners, just check at the hardware
store, the new boxes of fasteners are marked if approved for ACQ.  ACQ
suggests either stainless steel or copper fasteners, or zinc alloy based
galvanized steel (double hot dipped).

Here's a posting I found on the Garden Web chartroom about using cinder
blocks instead:
Have you given any thought to cinder block, cement, brick or gravity stone?
All the fore mentioned materials are very long lasting solutions with
minimum to no maintenance issues. It would be safe to say that a garden made
from these materials could very well last your lifetime, your childrens
lifetime and their childrens lifetime.

Using cinder block in comparison to pressure treated lumber: 
Lumber dimensions commonly used for raised gardens are 4"x4"x8' (actually
3="x3="x8'). One cinder block measures 8"x8"x16". It takes 6 cinder blocks
to equal an 8' length of lumber. 
A cinder block costs 99" or less making the cost of 8 linear feet approx.
$6. I believe 4"x4"x8' treated lumber costs more than $6. 
If you consider cinder block, not only do you get the same linear feet for
less than treated lumber, you also get more than twice the height and width
of 4"x4" (actually 3="x3=") lumber.

Another benefit of using block or cement is that you can paint it, stucco
the face or apply stone veneer to it. You can also grow ivy over the face as
I did for a softer, natural look (ivy was planted in '02, you can just make
it out in the lower right side of the pic). 
I've had a cinder block raised veggie garden for a number of years and
couldn't be happier, it's easy on the back :). 
I gave it a simple finished look by topping it w/ terracotta patio brick. 
Compliments on the design are commonly given by family, friends and guests
who would not have thought of masonry materials as an option.

Worth considering...

Good luck and hope to hear other's thoughts.


Tom Dietrich
Grow With Your Neighbors
Dayton, OH

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 11:34:00 -0500
From: "Ali Mramor" <amramor@CivicGardenCenter.org>
To: <community_garden@mallorn.com>
Subject: [cg] old growth alternatives

We have been using western red cedar to construct raised beds for
sometime now.  it is a great alternative to chemically treated wood
since it possesses it's own anti-fungal properties and such.  but recent
readings on the cedar industry have me concerned that it is not
harvested sustainably and most of the wood cut is old growth, destroying
the temperate rainforests of Canada.

we have used some composite lumber for building compost bins, but we
have come across 2 problems with that:
1)       it's very expensive
2)       it does not come in the size cuts appropriate for raised beds
(at least 2" x 8")

I am looking for some advice as to what alternatives exist.  our
community gardens are all in urban locales, so we must use raised beds
for various reasons.

any suggestions?

thanks in advance.


Ali Mramor
Youth Education Coordinator
Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati
2715 Reading Road
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206
ph. 513.221.0981 x11
fx. 513.221.0961

Visit us on the web: http://www.civicgardencenter.org

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