I am building a “strawberry stand” in which I want to use treated wood for...

Asked May 6, 2019, 4:59 PM EDT

I am building a “strawberry stand” in which I want to use treated wood for the framing to hold vinyl eaves trough trays. The frame is a little over 4 foot tall and 4 foot wide with the eaves trough held by a vinyl hangar so the soil does not contact the treated wood. My wife is concerned that rain water could run in the trough or splash into the soil and allow the strawberry plants to absorb the poisonous chemicals. Can you advise on the safety of using the treated wood to make the stand? Thank you, Mark R. Lewis, MCMGA member.

Midland County Michigan fruits and vegetables

3 Responses

Mark - the answer to your question depends somewhat on the type of treated wood that you are using. Most newly available treated wood no longer contains arsenic which was the main concern in the past. Look at the label on the ends of your lumber to determine which type of treatment has been used on it.
I am including a link to a great article that gives further details as to the other elements (i.e. trace metals) typically found in treated wood and also in the soil. As the article states, most are not available for plant uptake. That of course will depend upon the amount of organic matter in the soil, the surface area exposed and soil pH.
If you do have older arsenic treated lumber, the article also includes ways you can minimize the risk of exposure.

https://extension.psu.edu/environmental-soil-issues-garden-use-of-treated-lumber
Hope that helps!

I purchased new wood, the tag states it's Copper Azole treated. I read the article in the link you sent but it seems to concentrate on CCA treated wood which is not readily available to homeowners since 2003. Can you provide opinion on the probability of Copper Azole treated wood creating a hazard through the splashing or dripping of rain water from their surface onto the soil and/or plants?

Mark - you are not the only one asking this question for using lumber treated with Copper Azole. Click on the link below for the response from another Ask an Expert responder. Hope that helps. https://ask.extension.org/questions/409600