Painting raised beds

CarmieCarmApril 29, 2013

I am a novice gardener. Up until this year I have only grown flowers in my garden. I did have a few tomato plants and strawberries last year and did okay with them. I have just acquired some large apple bins from the east side and plan to grow some veggies in them this year.

The bins came with some spray paint markings on the outside and I was wondering if there is a "safe" paint I could use on the outside of them to make them less of an eyesore .

Any advice?

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Orchard tote-bins are awfully deep for homeowner raised beds, unless you are referring to bushel boxes. Veggies will do fine in 12 to 16" of soil.

Not sure what an unsafe paint would be as it is going on the outside of the bins. Use a paint intended as the primer layer as bin wood would not be suitable for a finish coat only. Primer paint can be tinted to many colors.

This post was edited by larry_gene on Mon, Apr 29, 13 at 23:01

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 10:59PM
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Perhaps, instead of painting over the paint just try to sand it off with an electric sander. The random type makes it smooth without taking off too much. You could also try higher grit paper or a wire brush if the paint is persistent and the wood strong enough.

Just know that the paint might contain lead, so take precautions.

Our scrap lumber raised beds had stray markings, but once plants grew up & the sunshine grayed the wood I didn't notice it anymore. It's only in early spring or just after harvest that you'd notice.

Another idea might be to disguise the most visible sides of the boxes with bamboo mats like what you'd take to the beach in Hawaii or roll up bamboo screening shades.

I've been patching drywall, sanding & painting lately prior to a move, so am aware of the fussiness of getting paint applied straight & smooth on irregular surfaces or trying to not get it on some things like popcorn ceiling.

If you do paint you might not want to spend a lot of time on it because it will get dinged up with garden tools, shoes, etc. -- no matter how well you paint it.

On the weekend I brushed some paint on the outsides of 2 old plywood doors of a chicken coop. After a few passes with the sander it was smooth enough to brush on exterior latex sample paint in sage green as a primer. The 2nd coat was a bit lighter green exterior latex paint and though still looks like a chicken coop. We wanted a bit more of a finished look positioned near the garage instead of tucked away in the backyard. We might add some trim pieces when we're done with all this house stuff & moving, but the rustic look is what you'd expect of a coop in a rural setting and we're only having it in this spot for awhile with the young chicks this spring.

Hope that helps~~

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 4:38PM
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laurell(8 - Washington)

I have stained and painted various beds in my yard. I included a link that has photos of all of them.

2x12' bed was painted house color about 2 years ago and still looks fine.

4x8' beds - the bottom layer was stained 4 years ago, the top layer was installed this year and won't be getting stain

The remainder of the beds are 1&2 years old and the stain still looks nice on them, but up close you can tell it's starting to degrade.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home In Disarray - Garden Beds

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Thanks for all of the great tips. I am definitely a work smarter not harder type. Don't know if sanding would be my thing. I think maybe I will just leave them as-is for this year and see if I can even grow food :D I am going for the rustic look anyway, so I can make it work. If it still bothers me next year, I will look into painting. There are a few non-lead primers on the market that look good to me.

Larry, they are the reg orchard bins. 2.5' deep. I plan to put pallets in the bottoms of them to raise up the inside depth and top with landscape fabric and straw before I put the soil and compost in them.

Wow! It's May 7th already. I better get busy.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 2:24PM
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In that case I would increase the long-term usage chances by placing a brick or paver at each corner and in the center to keep the tote off the ground. If the bottom and lower sides rot out, it could destabilize the whole structure. Put a few large holes in the bottom to let water escape that percolates through.

Partial infill with pallets is a good idea.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 11:13PM
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This is my first year at the square foot gardening/raised beds.
The frame was made out of untreated pine lumber. I was thinking of painting it with exterior latex paint - both inside and outside - but Mel Bartholomew says don't paint the inside - has anyone had any experience with painting their raised bed?
Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:56AM
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Inside painting as a cosmetic attempt to make the unused area above the soil line a uniform or pretty color may be a wasted effort as it will quickly accumulate tool marks and soil splatters from rainfall or watering.

Perhaps there will be more painting experience comments than the ones already posted from last year, above.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:11PM
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Thanks Larry for you input... I though perhaps it would protect the wood from deteriorating quite so quickly if the paint was inside also. But the more I read I think it should stay unpainted.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 11:31AM
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If 3/4" untreated lumber was used for the sides, the lifetime will be limited, perhaps 10 years or less. Lining the inner sides with sheet materials would extend the life. The lower down the side, the more likely the decay.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 11:32PM
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George Three LLC

my guess is that 3/4" untreated lumber would last 2-4 seasons. all wooden raised beds are temporary, just a question of HOW temporary.

this time of year home depot and parr lumber carry raw edge cedar 2x10 stock. i forget the board foot numbers, but if you have some bolts lying around you can get say a 3 by 7 bed together for $80 or so. (two 10 foot sections 2x10). if its just one 10" board, don't bother with the 4x4 corners. cedar stakes should hold it well enough.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 11:50AM
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