To maximize their garden efforts, an increasing number of home gardeners are turning to built raised beds gardens. Because it is resistant to rust and decay, composite wood is a very popular choice for raised garden beds. But there are also several disadvantages to using this type of material that should be considered.
What Is Composite Wood?
This type of lumber is a mix of several components such as wood fibers, dust, and scraps that are combined with some form of plastic and a binding agent to make the materials stronger than they would be on their own.
The plastic adds tensile strength to the wood fiber mix, as well as water and mold resistance and better scratch and dent resistance. These composite materials were created for outdoor constructions, such as decks and steps, where water resistance and low maintenance are required.
Benefits And Drawbacks Of Composite Wood
Among the advantages of composite wood is that it will not decay, splinter, or fade, unlike actual wood. It will not be burrowed in by bugs, and it is not degraded by sunlight. And because it is a finished product, you do not need to stain or paint it. Although more expensive, most composites are created from discarded polymers and wood, making them environmentally beneficial.
One disadvantage of using it, though, is that it requires more support to maintain its shape. Composite wood is not as dense as regular wood and it is actually intended for decking, which requires a lot of support from joists. In order to keep the shape in a vertical application, such as a raised bed, you must ensure it has the appropriate support on each of the sides.
Raised Bed Installation Tips
Before you begin constructing your raised garden bed, whether made of Trex or another material, there are a few things you should consider.
1. Make A Strategy
Make a rough sketch of your garden space. Whether you intend to have one or several beds, understanding the size and quantity of beds required can help ensure that your materials list is precise.
2. Keep Water At Hand
We are all aware that water is essential to the growing cycle. It makes sense to think about water before installing your raised garden beds.
While you can water your raised garden beds by hand, think about if an automated water system might be more practical. In most circumstances, getting it done for you means you have more time to do other things.
As an added plus, you won’t have to worry about the garden if you decide to spend the weekend away from home.
3. Create A Weed-Control Strategy
Weeds are an unavoidable part of gardening, and weeds in raised beds are no exception. If you are going to install the garden bed on dirt, as most people will, you should think about using a weed barrier. This easy action will decrease the quantity of weeds in your garden and can help you save time season after season.
Using Real Wood For Your Raised Garden Beds
Contrary to composite wood, real wood will keep its shape, and because of its natural rigidity, you won’t need as many supports to keep it in shape and hold back the soil in your beds.
But because real wood deteriorates with time, you’ll need to inspect and replace boards every few years. Depending on how you look at it, this can be either a good thing or a terrible thing.
Alternative Materials For Raised Garden Beds
Composite decking boards can be used in a variety of landscape projects, including raised garden beds because it provides a combination of natural-looking materials, resistance to mold and water, and a long lifespan. But below you will find a list of other materials that could also be used to build a long-lasting, beautiful raised garden bed.
Many people construct their raised garden beds out of cedar, a wood that is naturally resistant to rot, water damage, and weather damage. Cedar lasts longer than most other natural woods and, with proper care, may be transformed into a beautiful, natural, and biodegradable garden bed frame.
Other people use recycled plastic wood-look materials with HDPE being the most common material recycled into plastic materials that are molded to seem like wood. These materials have a long lifespan and are resistant to weather, water damage, and wear and tear, but they are also costly and, despite superb molding, can appear rather fake. However, the choice is there.
Untreated wood is the tried-and-true raised bed standard. It’s inexpensive, readily available, and simple to put together. You may even get creative and paint the outside of the wood if you want, which will add color while also protecting the wood’s outer surface.
Lining the inside of the raised bed will help the untreated wood surface endure longer, but this material will deteriorate the fastest since all-natural materials degrade over time. If you are just exploring the notion of building a raised bed garden system and want to get started right away on a budget, untreated wood is an excellent alternative.
Galvanized metal is another excellent alternative for raised beds. While it is more expensive than wood and, depending on metal prices in your location, it can be potentially more expensive than composite, it is still an excellent choice.
Galvanized metal is rust-resistant and durable, so much so, that it will most likely last your entire life. In fact, it is more likely that you will need to repair the wood corners before the side metal panels.
Concrete blocks are a great option to build a raised bed garden that is both permanent and mobile. They are also inexpensive and quite simple to install. Simply add or remove bricks to change the height of your bed. Another advantage is that you won’t need wood bracing, since the concrete blocks are strong enough to support the soil’s weight.
Finally, composite wood is a great option to build a raised garden bed, but if you are not entirely convinced, there are other materials you could choose to use. In the end, your choice will be determined by your taste and preference.