Raised beds are a great way to create a nearly instant garden in your landscape because they allow you to start with perfect, loamy soil instead of digging deep to turn and amend the dirt you already have. You won’t even have to dig up grass or weeds to get started — just build your bed, fill it with a mixture of soil and compost, and enjoy.
Raised beds are hugely popular because they’re so easy to build and maintain, but a little planning goes a long way toward making them last for years. Great building starts with great materials, so make sure you choose wisely.
Pressure treated lumber is wood that has been chemically treated to resist rot and insect damage. These days, the magic mixture is copper-based, which means that it’s safe to use for residential applications since copper doesn’t easily leach into the soil or any food you may grow.
Not all pressure-treated wood is the same, though. Look for lumber labeled for “ground contact,” which means that it will stand up to touching wet soil, being rained on, and will keep destructive insects and fungi at bay — all conditions that will occur out in your garden. In particular, look for pressure treated lumber labeled UC4A or UC4B to make sure your wood is up to the challenge.
Southern Yellow Pine — often called SYP for short at the lumberyard — is species of wood known for its outstanding build-ability. Though it’s technically a softwood, it’s very strong and has a straight grain. It’s also very dense, which means it holds nails and screws tight for years. Choose SYP for your raised beds so you don’t have to worry about popped nails in the future.
Whether you prefer to work with nails or screws, make sure to grab galvanized versions at the hardware store when you shop for your materials. Galvanized fasters will resist rusting. Rusting not only looks bad, but it can also cause ungalvanized fasteners to decay and break away, leaving your raised beds in jeopardy of falling apart. Galvanized fasteners are the way to go for exterior projects, especially when you’re using pressure treated wood.
Now that you have your materials list, check out our plans for basic raised beds and clear your weekend for this easy DIY project. Need more inspiration? Have a look at these amazing raised beds and let your creativity go wild!