First Raised Beds

MadtownWriter(9)June 21, 2013

Hello All,

I checked the FAQ and key-word searched this forum, but I came up empty. If I somehow missed where this info might be, my apologies.

What I"m trying to do is put a raised garden bed in front of a south-facing window, both for aesthetic reasons (it's pretty bland out there; I've tried to attach a picture, but who knows if that'll work) and for environmental reasons (the greener we can responsibly make the world, the better). The two beds would be 5 1/2' x 2 1/2' x 12"(so that two would fit in front of my window and still have a nice shape), which I could make out of three 2" x 12" by 12' boards, with the leftover pieces after the initial cuts (4' worth of wood that could make eight 6" pieces) used for corner supports and to attach an aluminum brace to prevent bowing in the middle.

After pretty intensive searches, I keep running into the fact that cedar and redwood are the best woods for raised garden beds. So I started pricing those types of wood...and, wow, expensive.

What I couldn't find explicitly mentioned was if there were other woods that were good (though clearly not "best") for garden beds: maybe not great, but a decent alternative when price is a factor, especially as I might make a total botch out of my first garden beds. I read here and there that some people had used Douglas fir, but no mention was made (either by the posters or by the commenters) if it had been a good idea, if they had held up and if it was felt that the savings in cost was a good trade-off for less durability.

Here are some numbers that might be useful to look at: I can get 2x12x12 fir for about $16 here in California, while 2x12x12 redwood goes for about $34, which means that I can spend either $48 or $102. I had a hard time finding cedar, so I gave up trying.

And if there are "good" woods, are there also "bad" woods, those to avoid for whatever sound reasons?

I really don't mind spending the extra if it makes sense; i'm just not sure that it does.



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In a wet and warm climate where termites exist, almost any wood can have a short service life, the exception being eastern red cedar. For these conditions, poured in place concrete offers the best balance of cost, durability, and appearance.

I would expect material cost for the two beds you need to be around $140 for 16 inch walls (12" above ground and 4" inches below to deter grass encroachment). This is a doable project for an experienced DIYer.

The cost of a decorative finish would be extra and depend on what was selected. Cheapest would be to render the walls to match your home, but you could also choose a stone, tile, thin brick, or slate veneer.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 1:49PM
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Thanks for the advice. I looked for that eastern red cedar that you mentioned, but I had no luck. I just came back from the lumber yard with the redwood.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 3:43AM
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The cost is higher because wide (12") boards are more costly per square foot. Have you thought of using narrower boards - using 2 6" wide boards? I have seen some nice raised beds made from cement blocks and from retaining wall blocks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Redwood raised bed

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 12:35PM
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