Choosing the Right Lumber Type for Your Raised Garden Bed
Updated: May 7, 2019
As a company that is proud to offer you both high-quality lumber and amazing landscaping services, we thought it was about time to write an article connecting the two.
And, unsurprisingly, many customers come to us asking about what the right type of lumber is for their new garden beds.
Raised garden bed boxes are gardening containers that separate outdoor gardens from the rest of the lawn. They are usually made out of lumber, but can also be made out of concrete.
At our sawmill, we primarily sell two types of softwood: hemlock and pine.
For garden beds, we recommend using hemlock over any other type of wood because of its durability, attractive appearance, and its low-cost in comparison to other hardwood options.
But, before we get into that, you should probably understand why we recommend buying lumber to build your raised garden beds instead of buying other options.
Why is Our Wood the Best Choice?
We recommend buying locally-sourced, untreated lumber when building garden beds because wood is an organic product.
Choosing a material that hasn’t been treated with harmful chemicals and is made of once living material prevents you from choosing a building material that could damage or contaminate your garden beds.
You want to choose an option that helps promote healthy plant growth, not one that can possibly kill it.
Plus, wooden garden beds can last an incredibly long time. We had one customer who built their in-ground garden beds out of hemlock and their beds remained healthy and intact for 10 years - even through harsh New York winters.
If you do want to choose an inorganic or treated alternative, do your research. Make sure it’s a safe option and hasn’t been treated with harmful chemicals or toxins.
Types of Wood to Choose From
There are TONS of lumber products that make for great garden beds.
Some options, including cedar and redwood are naturally rot-resistant, and other hardwoods like black walnut are dense and durable.
Just keep in mind to avoid recycled or reclaimed wood, and any wood that may have been treated with harmful substances.
Our pine and hemlock lumber products are a great, easy choice that has no risk of being processed with harmful substances and is sawn on-site, new and ready to go.
Pine is attractive, affordable, and easy to work with. It is great for temporary garden beds, but not a great long-term option for most areas in NY. They’ll be exposed to too much moisture to last for more than three to four years.
Hemlock is our best readily available option for garden bed builders. Hemlock can last 10 years as a garden bed and is cheaper to purchase than other options. Hardwoods can be significantly more expensive and tend to last for around the same amount of time.
If you’re specifically looking for hardwood, however, call and let us know! While we may not have 100% what you’re looking for, we can ask around and see if anyone knows about hardwood availability for us to cut your order with and possibly give you numbers to call for nearby lumber mills that may carry that lumber product if we can’t source it ourselves.
5/7/19 - UPDATE - I had a customer come in a few weeks back who built one of her garden beds out of pine and another out of hemlock. They BOTH lasted exactly 10 years! I'm not sure if it's just the conditions of her lot, but, for her at least, there were no differences between the two materials. However, from others, I've still heard that hemlock is the best material to use so, in the end, it's your call.