Finding lumber for my square foot garden east of Atlanta

georgia_transplant(7b)April 5, 2008

Hello Georgia gardeners,

I am posting this here instead of the square foot gardening forum because I need geography-specific advice.

I live about an hour east of Atlanta, and I have not been able to find any untreated lumber at Lowes or Home Depot in the size I need for growing veggies. I am going to call lumber places on Monday, but does anyone who has built a sq. ft. garden/raised bed in this area had any luck finding CHEAP untreated lumber (looking for 2 x 6 or 2 x 8)?

I would happy with pine, as long as it is untreated.


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have you considered looking on craigslist (atlanta area)and/or posting a wanted ad there in the materials section. I would also scope out any NEW buiding projects/housing construction sites...I have done this where I live and it's pretty amazing what is thrown away (and they have to pay by the LB to get it all taken away) most people are more than willing to let you have it...I collected about 2000 bricks all FREE over about 2 months and built a great patio with them.

Also has a similiar site where you can advertise for free.

2x6 and 2x10's are very commonly used for building houses.

here's an ad I just can cut and paste the reply to email address.

Cheap Used Framing Lumber, denailed. - $1 (DownTown ATL)

Reply to:
Date: 2008-04-04, 10:22AM EDT

I have a bundle of 2x10's and a bundle of 2x6's that are used, denailed, and perfect for a budget framing project. Not pretty, but functional.

About 50 2x10x10' and 40-50 2x6x9-12'.
$0.90 on the 2x6's and $1.10 on the 2x10's. Thats about half of retail. We have a forklift to load you out, and take cash and local checks with proper ID.
404-790-0932, call for appointment.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 6:45PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

another place you may check is - they prefer your first post is not a "WANTED" advert, but you may find something local to you that someone would otherwise throw away.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 6:50PM
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Thanks to both of you for your suggestions! It might sound self-righteous of me, but I do not use either Craigslist or freecycle because of their policies on pets.

Construction has slowed down alot here so new sites are hard to find, but I will definitely look for them. I just assumed that their lumber would be treated, but I will ask them anyway just in case it isn't. Thanks so much!!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 8:30PM
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In this area of GA, most all framing lumber is untreated(includes 2X6 & 2X10). Both HD & Lowes stocks it, as I have purchased it at both. You can purchase it in various lengths, up to 16ft.
Mill prices of lumber has fallen 50% during the past 4 years, due to the housing woes and many less new construction starts.
However, I seriously doubt that will be reflected in the prices at either of the above Home Improvement Centers.
I have found that HD stocks a better grade of lumber than Lowes, at the same price. But you may have to search through several bundles to find acceptable material, at either store. I'm hard to please!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 10:16PM
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railroadrabbit(7b - Atlanta)

You can buy untreated wood at Lowes and Home Depot.

"Treated" is also known as Pressure Treated lumber. It has chemicals forced into the wood inside a pressure chamber. At Lowes or Home Depot you will pay 2 or 3 times the price of regular untreated framing lumber for the "Treated" wood. The "Treated" wood will be a different color than the regular framing lumber and each piece will have a special tag stapled to one end of the board telling what company treated it.

I have bought scraps of lumber at Home Depot at reduced prices. If they have a piece with a split or other defect they will cut and discard the defect and sell the good part at a fraction of regular price. I just check when I'm there and pick up pieces I think I can use in the future.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 12:52AM
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jmzms(z7 Alpharetta, GA)

Out of curiousity, what are craiglist and freecylcle's policies on pets?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 8:12AM
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Pressure-treated wood used for home and playground construction projects, no longer contain Chromated Copper Arsenic(CCA). It was phased out in the 1990's, not due primarily to concerns about the Arsenic leaching into the soil and contaminating it and water supplies, but due to the level of Arsenic present on the surface of the wood that people(especially children) and animals come in contact with.
Here's a link that discusses the subject of using CCA treated wood in gardens.
The Pessure-treatment used today is; Alkaline Copper Quaternary(ACQ) and to date, no health concerns have been raised due to contact with the treated wood.
It's available in 2 grades, one for above ground use(0.25), one for ground contact use(0.40). The label attached to each piece will specify level of treatment & recommended usage.
The heart-wood of trees is more resistant to decay than the outer surface and you should look for that when selecting lumber. They are the pieces that contain no knots.
Usually graded as #1 and not available at Home Improvement Centers, who carry #2(they say!) but is more like #3 or #4, of my long-ago construction days!(some I've seen, had so many large knots, they just missed being culls, by having all square edges)!
By checking through all of the bundles, you can sometimes find some with a few small or no knots. On my last framing experience, I had to visit 2 HD's and a Lowes and go through every bundle in stock, to find 16 - 2"X10"X12', that I felt were suitable for floor joists. An all day ordeal, that I hope to never repeat!
Good luck with your project!
FWIW, all soils and the water you drink, contain Arsenic, but at very low, (deemed)acceptable levels. Root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, potatoes, turnips, etc., contain a much higher level than the mature above-ground ones. Most of the Arsenic is contained in the skin or outer coating and by removing that, most of the arsenic is removed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fine Gardening Magazine

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 11:26AM
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jmzms(z7 Alpharetta, GA)

RB - great article!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 4:16PM
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Thanks to everyone for all the info!

When I looked through the aisles at HD and Lowes, everything was labelled treated or labelled cryptically so I couldn't tell whether or not it was treated, and, as usual, there was no one around to help, so I thought I would look elsewhere.

Thank you for the info razorback! I've got some experience working in water quality, so I'm familiar with the arsenic idea you wrote about. I will look at that article you posted.

jmzms, we can take the pets policy discussion to e-mail if you would like.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 9:03PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

i am not sure if this is applicable to you, but if CL and FC are out of the question, you may check to see if there are local lists for your neighborhood/area at

a lot of local neighborhoods have either forums, Google groups or Yahoo groups designated for them, with lots of active people.

most of us in the ATL metro area are spoiled, however. we have tons of groups and forums (like EAVBuzz and SANDatlanta) to allow us to interface with other neighbors tossing stuff out.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 11:52PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

satellitehead, I'm FL on the Buzz...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 2:54PM
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opal52(z7b GA)

An hour east of Atlanta sounds like you may be close to Conyers. Depending on the time of day and traffic :~).

If yes, you may want to call Still Lumber Company. Nice folks out there.

Here is a link that might be useful: Still Lumber Company

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 6:07PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

GGG, I'm "shifty" on the Buzz as i am on most other forums i frequent. i've only made one post @Buzz to try and locate the owner of a dog we rescued (we get strays coming up a lot, you know how it is around here ...) :)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 12:06AM
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