best wood for raised garden
Organic Gardening

Choosing the Best Wood for Raised Garden Beds

best wood for raised garden

So you want to have raised garden beds. Excellent! You’re going to love having them. There are so many advantages to having raised garden beds. Raised garden beds are a fantastic way to elevate your gardening experience, providing numerous benefits such as improved drainage, better soil control, and easier access for planting and harvesting.

Before getting started there are a couple of things to think about. The first thing is to decide whether you want to buy raised garden beds or you’re going to build your own. The second important thing you need to decide is what material they’re going to be made of. The below information is going to help you decide if wood is the best route for you.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the best wood options for constructing raised garden beds, considering factors like durability, sustainability, and cost

This post is all about the best wood for raised garden beds.

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What You Need to Consider Before Buying Wood

There are some key elements that need to be considered before you go out and buy wood for your raised beds.

  1. You need to consider the durability of the wood. How durable is the type of wood you’re choosing? Is it highly susceptible to rot or pest damage? For example, if you’re a renter, are you able to have the beds set up for a long period of time or are you going to be moving within the next few years?
  2. What is the longevity of the wood? Will the wood last a long time or is it going to have to be changed out at some point?
  3. Consider the safety of the type of wood you’re using. These beds are being used to grow food so you won’t want any type of wood that’s treated with chemicals. Chemicals can leach into the soil and food. Although it may seem like a good idea to reuse reclaimed wood from things such as pallets, you’ll want to consider what that wood came in contact with, if it’s been treated with anything. There are a lot of unknowns when it comes to reusing wood if you don’t know exactly where it came from. Additionally, I stay away from any pressure-treated wood.
  4. The cost of the wood. The type of wood you choose is going to have an effect on cost. For example, cedar wood is going to be much more expensive than pine. So choose whatever is going to fit your needs and your budget. I used pricing from Home Depot as it is a store that’s widely available to most people.
  5. Availability needs to be considered. Certain materials may not be available in all areas.

[RELATED POST: Quick & Easy Guide for How to Make a Raised Garden Bed]

Additional Information about Safety

There are some sites that state using pressure treated wood is ok. Some of what I’ve found is that this is on the basis that the EPA has re-visited and re-evaluated older wood preservation techniques like chromated arsenicals, creosote, and pentachlorophenol. (These are considered pesticides by the way.)  They are banned from residential use. However the EPA has registered new types of wood preservation. The safety of these woods are dependent on a number of factors so to make it simpler, I would just flat out avoid them.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), only certain types of treated woods can be used for backyard projects like raised garden beds. In their FAQ, the NPIC discusses leaching of these pesticides into the soil and uptake by the garden.

“Can plants take up ingredients from treated wood?
If compounds leach from treated wood, they may be available for uptake by garden plants. However, it is difficult to predict the amount of plant uptake. Materials used in treated wood that leach into soil may be bound to soil. They also may change into different forms that plants cannot take in through their roots. Information about plant uptake is limited. Plant uptake may depend on many factors, including plant type, soil type, and distance to the treated wood.” 

Strid, A.; Hanson, W.; Cross, A.; Jenkins, J. 2019. Treated Wood Fact Sheet; National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University Extension Services.

They go further to explain additional considerations of using treated wood, and that these chemicals may even impact groundwater and soil.

Although the EPA has banned the use of the abovementioned pesticides on wood, they registered several newer methods of wood preservation. For the complete list, check out the EPA’s web page in its Overview of Wood Preservation Chemicals.

Best Wood for Raised Garden Beds

We’ve talked in length about the considerations for buying wood. Now it’s time to talk about the best wood for your raised garden beds. The below gives information about the wood itself, comparison for cost, durability, and sustainability.

Pricing reflects the cost at the time of this post.

Cedar Wood for Raised Beds

Cedar has long been a popular choice for raised garden beds. Its natural resistance to decay and insect infestation makes it an excellent option for outdoor projects. Cedar contains natural oils that act as a deterrent to pests, ensuring a longer lifespan for your garden beds. Additionally, its beautiful reddish-brown color adds an attractive aesthetic to your garden. It can last up to a decade before there are any signs of decay.

The cost of cedar will be dependent on the type that you choose to purchase. For 2 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. Premium S4S Cedar Dimensional Lumber $15.98, according to Home Depot’s website.


Redwood is another hardwood that stands out for its durability and resistance to decay. Like cedar, redwood contains natural oils that make it resistant to insects, fungi, and rot. Its rich, reddish hue adds a touch of elegance to your garden beds, making them both functional and visually appealing. Keep in mind that redwood can be pricier than some other options, but its longevity often justifies the investment.

There was no availability of this product when I searched for it, so I cannot provide a price.


Pine is a budget-friendly option that provides decent durability. It’s actually the least expensive option out there. However, it’s less durable and has less longevity in comparison to options like cedar and redwood. This option is great for those who are putting up raised garden beds for only a few years, such as in the case of a renter. It has a very short life span of 3 to 4 years. Seal the wood to help expand its longevity.

According to Home Depot, the cost of one 2 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. Prime Lumber is $6.62.

Douglas Fir 

Douglas fir is a softwood that strikes a balance between affordability and durability. While it may not have the same natural resistance as cedar or redwood, it can still last for several years (4 to 7 years) if properly maintained. Applying a sealant or wood preservative can help extend its lifespan and protect it from the elements.

The price of a piece of 2 in. x 6 in. x 16 ft. Prime Lumber is $13.82.

Composite Wood

For those looking for a low-maintenance and eco-friendly option, composite wood is worth considering. Made from a blend of recycled wood fibers and plastic, composite materials are resistant to rot, insects, and decay. They also require minimal maintenance, making them a practical choice for busy gardeners.

This type of product is usually available as a ready made raised garden bed. The cost can range between $40 to $2,000 depending on the size and material, according to Home Depot.


Juniper wood is a less common but noteworthy choice for raised garden beds. Known for its natural durability and resistance to decay, juniper is an excellent option for outdoor use. The wood has a unique color spectrum, ranging from pale yellow to a reddish-brown, providing a distinctive appearance for your garden beds. Juniper wood’s natural resistance to decay and insects makes it a low-maintenance and long-lasting option for gardeners seeking something a bit different.

I was unable to find any major retailers that carried juniper.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of each of the wood mentioned above.

WoodDurabilityLongevity Cost
CedarVery durable, natural resistance to decay and pests10+ years$15.98
RedwoodVery durable, natural resistance to decay and pests10+ years– – – – 
PineBudget friendly, less durable, less longevity3 – 4 years$6.62
Douglas Firdurable4 – 7 years$13.82
CompositeDurable, resistant to rot, decay, and pests$40 – $2,000
JuniperDurable, rot resistant– – –


Choosing the best wood for your raised garden beds involves considering factors such as durability, resistance to decay and insects, cost, and aesthetics. Cedar and redwood are popular choices for their natural resistance and visual appeal, while pine and Douglas fir offer more budget-friendly options. For a low-maintenance and eco-friendly alternative, composite wood may be the right choice. Ultimately, selecting the right wood will ensure your raised garden beds stand the test of time, providing a sturdy and beautiful foundation for your gardening endeavors.

This post was all about the best wood for raised garden beds.

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