Healthiest material for veggie raised bed?

Asked January 22, 2017, 10:18 AM EST

Dear experts, I am going to build a raised bed this spring primarily for vegetables, and after reading everything I can find on the topic, I am still struggling with choosing a material and a design that balances durability with food safety. I know I want to use wood (specifically 2x4s) for aesthetic and practical reasons, and I know I should avoid treated lumber. Many sources recommend hardwoods like cedar for durability, but these are prohibitively expensive in our area - the advice seems geared towards gardeners in the Pacific Northwest. If I use ordinary untreated pine lumber, should I line it with plastic sheeting to keep moisture away from the wood, or will that interfere with drainage or leach chemicals into the soil? Should I treat the wood with deck sealant? Perhaps only on the outside? Or is the best thing to do just to let the natural pine do what it does, and replace it in a few years if I have to? Thank you,

District of Columbia County District of Columbia raised vegetable bed vegetable raised vegetable bed construction

2 Responses

Untreated pine should be fine. Yes, you can line the sides (only) with plastic sheeting. Usually latex is used to protect the wood, but you can find the names of "natural" and low VOC paints or stain products online that give great peace of mind.
Raised bed can also be constructed of synthetic decking.

ECN

Thank you so much!!