Cedar vs. Pine: Which wood makes the best-raised bed?

When researching which wood makes the best-raised bed, I found that many factors must be considered. To simplify the answer, I wrote an article comparing Cedar vs. Pine to determine which wood makes the best-raised bed.

Using wood to make a raised bed is a cost-effective solution. Cedar and Pine are two popular kinds of wood used for garden construction. Cedar is the clear winner when it comes to which of these woods makes the best-raised bed. The oils in Cedar make it naturally more robust and resistant to rot.

In the next few sections, we will compare these wood materials for garden beds, their considerations, their benefits, and other raised garden bed considerations that you should know as a gardener, so please read on!

Considerations when comparing Cedar vs. Pine for making raised beds

One of the main things to consider is the durability of Cedar and Pine and what happens to these woods as time passes.

beans in a raised bed

Cedar gradually fades to gray in appearance, while Pine begins to develop checks that look like splits or cracks as it dries out.

Appearance is subjective, so it is up to your personal preference.

Longevity considerations when using Pine or Cedar for raised bed gardening

wooden raised beds being constructed

Longevity is another deciding factor. You want to use wood that will hold up for a long time and not need to be repaired often, disturbing the plants in the bed.

Untreated Pine can last up to seven years with good draining soil. Cedar could easily triple this lifespan, but Pine may be the right option if you want a short-term and cheaper solution.

Safety of using Pine or Cedar for raised bed gardening

When it comes to growing vegetables, the main concern is using preservatives and chemicals in certain woods. These chemicals can leak into the vegetables, which is not good for obvious reasons.

This is another reason Cedar is better than Pine when making raised beds. Cedar is dense and long-lasting, with no added preservatives, making it an ideal choice for raised beds. Pine usually needs to be treated for longevity.

Side-by-side comparison of Cedar vs. Pine

Here is a comparison list of Cedar vs. Pine:

Using Cedar for raised bed gardening and its considerations Using PPine for raised bed gardening and its Deliberations Has a life span of up to 30 years. It can last up to 7 to 10 years No preservatives or chemicals usually require the addition of micronized copper azoles. Highly durable and stable Develops checked appearance in time. It does not warp or shrink. It is not guaranteed against shrinking or warping. It turns grey with time. Decays in the ground More expensive More affordable option.

If you choose Pine to make your raised beds, one way to ensure it will last longer is to paint the boards with raw linseed oil. This will protect the Pine, and it will turn from a beige to grey over time. This is a good way to bridge the gap between Cedar and Pine’s significant cost and durability differences.

Knotty-grade Cedar is slightly cheaper; it retains strength but has more visible knots in the wood.

The different types of Cedar and Pine can be used for making raised beds

The type of Cedar or Pine you choose to make your raised bed will likely depend on what’s available in your area and the cost. It is important to weigh these factors against the characteristics of the wood to choose the most suitable for your raised bed.

Cedarwood types

ends of a stacked pile of timber

Strictly speaking, there are four types of cedarwood – the deodar cedar, the Lebanon cedar, the Cyprus cedar, and the Atlas cedar.

These types of Cedar all have slightly different characteristics and are therefore used for other purposes. The most common cedar form is Western Red Cedar, which isn’t true but is ideal for garden use because of its durability and long-lasting nature.

Pinewood types

Like Cedar, there are many variations of pine wood. These different species vary in properties, such as strength and hardness. Shortleaf Pine is solid wood, similar to Red Oak.

Softer variations such as Sugar Pine, Western White Pine, and Eastern White Pine decay more rapidly than harder pines.

These harder pines – Shortleaf, Slash, Longleaf, and Loblolly Pine, are commonly used for outdoor construction as they are more robust.

What should a cedar or Pine raised bed be lined with?

Lining a raised bed improves durability and stops toxins from entering the soil. Some people use plastic to line their raised bed, which isn’t ideal as it tends to retain excess water and deter insects beneficial to growth. This is particularly true of non-porous plastic.

Landscape fabric is the best material for a raised bed lining.

This can usually be found at gardening stores, or you could use cloth fabric from old clothes to be thrifty!

Lining your raised beds with this for mole prevention

A good way to prevent moles and gophers from harming the plants in your raised bed is to line it with metal hardware cloth.

This lining will prevent them from coming up through the bottom of the bed and wreaking havoc on your shrubs.

What do I put on the bottom of a raised garden bed?

Put organic materials like compost, grass clippings, and leaves on the bottom of the garden bed. This will boost your soil’s health and benefit your plants. Refrain from putting rocks on the bottom as they may create a water table within the raised garden bed, causing root rot and improper drainage.

How depth affects a raised bed

When constructing your raised bed, it is important to have enough depth; otherwise, plants and vegetables may struggle to grow.

There is room for maneuvering, but six inches of soil should be the minimum for raised garden beds.

Generally, most garden plants require at least six to twelve inches for their roots, so twelve inches would be ideal.

Considerations for raised garden beds, depending on where they are built

raised bed in a greenhouse

If the raised beds are concrete, they will likely need more depth because they won’t gather nutrients as easily.

If they are built over grass or soil, you can afford to make them less deep because more nutrients will be available.

The key to making your raised bed deep enough is to consider which crops you intend to grow and quickly research how much depth they require for their roots. This can vary greatly from plant to plant, so there is no definitive answer.

Also, to aid you in this process, I have created an article on raised bed gardening, which covers everything from bed material, design, how to make them, how many you need, and even soil percentages.

Effective ways to drain a raised bed and why drainage is important

Drain is a significant consideration whether you use Cedar or Pine for your raised bed.

Draining saves good soil and stops waterlogging from occurring.

If the raised bed doesn’t have adequate drainage, it could become a hard environment for plant roots to breathe.

Draining considerations for raised garden bed

Firstly, when determining how much drainage your raised bed needs, you must consider which types of shrubs or vegetables you intend to grow. Drainage isn’t required if the raised bed is below knee height.

Materials used for better drainage for raised bed garden

There are a variety of materials that can be used as drainage in a raised garden. Some of these materials are more effective than others.

One of the best materials is crushed granite because it’s affordable and has great draining properties.

Sand is a reliable option, but try to use washed or river sand to ensure a low salt content which could negatively affect growth. Pebbles and other gravels can be used to be careful that the topsoil doesn’t combine with the rocks, which will limit its drainage ability.

FAQs on Cedar vs. Pine: Which wood makes the best-raised bed?

Are there any other woods suitable for making raised beds?
Although Cedar is the best choice and pines a close second, you can also look into using Juniper, Redwood, and Yew, as these are three naturally rot-resistant, long-lasting wood types. Denser woods like Black locusts, Black walnut, and White oak provide aesthetic but lack the durability of Cedar.

Can you put a raised bed on the grass?
It’s possible to have a thriving raised bed on a grass surface. Also, it is unnecessary to line your raised bed when doing this to aid deep-rooted crops in accessing the soil below the bed. With this, earthworms that can aerate the soil can enter the bed from the soil below.

How do you keep your raised garden bed from rotting?
You can prevent your raised garden beds from rotting by choosing rot-resistant wood types. Examples of these would be Cedar, juniper, yew, and redwood. Consider staining the wood itself and applying a liner around it. You can also use stones and plastic to build the garden bed.

What do I put on the bottom of a raised garden bed?
Put organic materials like compost, grass clippings, and leaves on the bottom of the garden bed. This will boost your soil’s health and benefit your plants. Refrain from putting rocks on the bottom as they may create a water table within the raised garden bed, causing root rot and improper drainage.

Conclusion on Cedar vs. PPine for raised garden bed material

When choosing between Cedar and Pine, these are noteworthy aspects determining which woods make the best-raised bed. Cedar is a very stable wood. It will not shrink, warp or check over time.

On the other hand, Pine is a slightly cheaper wood, but the quality difference reflects this. The Pine has to be pressure treated and dried, after which it should last for at least a decade without decaying, compared to Cedar, which could last for thirty years! Hopefully, these comparisons will help you decide which raised garden bed material is better for you and your garden.

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