Everything You Need to Know About Pine Raised Beds

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If the thought of digging through hard compacted rocky soil doesn’t appeal to you, you’ve probably thought about investing in raised beds. These are the perfect solution to avoid doing such a job, and they’re relatively simple to make. If you’ve developed some research, you’ve probably discovered that pine is a popular material for constructing raised beds. But what are the benefits of using pine wood for this application?

The benefits you can reek from pine wood are incredible. Here’s what the main advantages are:

  • Cost – Pine is a highly inexpensive material, making it one of the cheaper woods to make raised beds out of compared to cedar and oak.
  • Availability – Because pine is a softwood, it grows quicker than all hardwoods making it more widely available.
  • Variety – Pine can be purchased in many colors and textures based on your requirements.

As you can see from the above, pine is an excellent material for creating raised beds. To better understand this wood, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide for using pine as the base material for your raised beds.

How long do pine raised beds last?

A question that is probably on everybody’s mind, “how long do pine raised beds last?” This is entirely understandable because we all want a bang for our buck. Nonetheless, although pine is the least expensive material you can opt-in for when constructing raised beds, it also holds much fewer rot-resistant capabilities than other wood types.

Typically, if you use pine for your raised beds, you’ll get an average of around five years of use. However, this could be more or less depending on your environment. For example, if you grow in a location with considerable fluctuations in weather or an increased number of wood-loving bugs, you can expect fewer years.

Should you use treated pine?

Treated wood has been around for some time now, and it’s known to increase the life span of wood. However, should you use treated pine for raised beds?

If you purchase organic pine, you should layer it with raw linseed oil before constructing your beds. This is a natural material and will unlikely contaminate the soil, stones, or bricks surrounding the beds.

From coating your raw pine with linseed oil, it’s known to increase its life span.  In this case, you should get more than five years out of your wood. But again, this highly depends on your environment.

Apart from linseed oil, pine can be coated in many finishes to increase its rot protection. Typically, pine treatment is classified into six “protection rates” (H1 – H6), and these determine the level of protection the wood has from pests and fungal breakdowns.

The most popular type of finish is Chromate Copper Arsenate (CCA), and this is well-known for its protection capabilities. However, many people have suggested that this type of finish can affect its surroundings, such as the soil, stones/gravel, brickwork, etc. So, if you do opt-in for this type of finish, you run the risk of potentially contaminating your plants inside your beds.

Is Pine OK for Raised Beds?

Pine is becoming an increasingly popular choice when it comes to raised beds. This is because of the inexpensiveness and ease of accessibility that is offered by this wood type. Pine is ok for raised beds and is the perfect solution for someone that doesn’t want to invest a lot of money into their garden.

The only significant flaw to using pine is its life span. Pine has inferior rot-resistance capabilities, and it’s much worse than other types of materials used for raised beds such as oak or cedar.

Benefits of using pine for raised beds

Above, we’ve mentioned several benefits that you can gain when choosing pine as your raised bed material. Without a doubt, it has some remarkable benefits that we’re going to discuss and some negatives. I thought it would be beneficial to mention these so you’re able to grasp a more profound understanding of whether or not to opt-in for pine.

Inexpensiveness

One of the most prominent benefits that you’re offered when choosing pine for your raised beds is the sheer inexpensiveness of the product. As a market average, you can expect to pay roughly $1.89 per foot, which is much cheaper than cedar, as this is around $4.00 per foot.

Because of the price, pine has been a popular option for many gardeners on a budget. As you’re able to grasp from the market averages, you can save yourself a whopping $2.11 per foot, which certainly adds up if you’re creating large raised beds.

Accessibility

Typically, pine is extremely easy to purchase, and there aren’t any wait times for import. This is because pine is a softwood, and this type of wood is known to grow quickly.

It’s also a highly grown tree in many countries such as North America, China, South-East Asia, Russia, and many places dotted around Europe. Because of this, it enhances the possibilities that you’ll have instant access to this material.

Easy to work with

Pine is known to be flexible and easy to cut, making this the perfect material for any novice gardener. If you want to make the process easier, I would choose pine wood. This is because it’s easy to cut and holds a good amount of flex, making it great for any beginner wanting to develop good-looking raised beds.

Variety

If you’re stuck for variety, pine can undoubtedly help you out. If you’re looking for a specific natural style, color, or grain texture, pine holds a high possibility of supplying you with it. The variety comes from its family tree, Pinaceae, as it contains over 111 species worldwide.

As you can see from the above, the sheer number of benefits you’re able to gain from pine is immense. However, with all benefits comes negatives, so let’s explore these.  

Negatives of using pine for raised beds

Unfortunately, a “perfect” wood for raised beds just doesn’t exist. Therefore, no matter what wood you choose, you’ll run into both pros and cons, whether this is the price, availability, or its rot-resistant capabilities. Below we talk about the negatives that come along with using pine for raised beds.

Rot resistance capabilities

As mentioned various times above, pine is known for its poor rot resistance capabilities. Because of this, it has a relatively small lifespan (around five years), making it one of the “weaker” materials you can use when constructing raised beds.

However, to increase the life expectancy of pine, you can coat it with linseed oil. You can also buy treated pine wood, but the chemicals used normally contaminate the surrounding areas, such as the soil, stones, and bricks, etc.

Sunlight damage

Although the variety of wood species is a great benefit as you can invest in something that is more suitable for you, it can quickly become damaged by sunlight and change color. The two variables that cause this damage is UVA and UVB rays (visible light and heat radiation).

To reduce the damage, people tend to coat it with a varnish or lacquer. But because you’re using this as a raised bed, it’s not recommended as the chemicals will negatively affect its surrounding environment.

Poor weatherproofing

As you can imagine, because it has poor rot resistance capabilities, it has reduced levels of weatherproofing compared to other woods on the market. Because of their terrible weatherproofing trait, they can generally look aged pretty fast. However, this doesn’t mean you have to replace them, and if you’re a gardener that prefers this type of style, it’s perfect.

Treated vs untreated pine for raised beds

Throughout this article, I can imagine that you understand that we’re lovers of untreated pine wood. However, many gardeners become stuck on the idea of treated or untreated pine wood. To help you decide, see the below comparison.

Advantages

Treated Untreated
Enhanced levels of rot protection.Natural and doesn’t affect its surrounding environment.
Life span is increased slightly.Ready to lay after purchase.
Reduces damage caused by natural elements.Easy to work with.

Disadvantages

Treated Untreated
It can cause harmful effects to your soil, stones, or bricks that it’s located around the area.It can quickly become damaged due to natural elements such as wind, sun, or rain.
For a novice, the treated wood can seem problematic.You’ll need to replace your pine-raised beds probably once every 3-5 years, depending on your environment.
If you buy readily treated wood, it’ll be more expensive.The cost of replacing makes it’s roughly the same price as other woods.

Which one should you choose?

From the above, you’re able to see that there are both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to using treated or untreated pine wood. But which one should you choose? This is a difficult question and really depends on the end-users requirements. However, due to the enhanced possibilities of your crops becoming contaminated from the treated chemicals, I have to say untreated gets my vote.

How to get started with your pine raised beds

After reading this article, you may have decided that you’re going to construct your raised beds from pine. Developing raised beds from pine is pretty easy, and you should be ready to plant within a day (depending on the size of the project). Below are some mandatory factors you need to consider before finalizing your bed’s location.

  • First, you need to determine what you’re going to grow and their recommended growing capacities. This is crucial to understand as it will minimize the risk of your raised beds being too small in the future.
  • Now you understand the above, you’ll want to develop a rough sketch of how big you need your beds. During this stage, you’ll also discover how much pine you need for your project.
  • Since you have the sizes of your raised beds, you can now decide on the location. To solidify your decision, you’ll need to think about the following; sunlight, water supply, total size.
  • Now you’ve thought about the above, It’s time to start prepping your chosen location.

Prepare your location

Now you have your designated area, It’s time to introduce your raised beds. Here you’ll want to mark out your location and clear it from any weeds or grass. This will ensure that your location has rich soil for your plants or vegetables.

You’ll also want to level out the area as this will be beneficial for when you lay the beds. This also enhances growth as many roots grow faster vertically rather than at an angle. It’ll also help with the distribution of water, as it won’t be channeled into one specific area.

This step is time-consuming but most valuable, so it’s vital to implement this correctly.

Build your raised beds

Now you’ve prepped your location, you are ready to start constructing the raised beds. Of course, you’ll need your pinewood, exterior screws (preferably galvanized, not stainless steel), and linseed oil. The wood and screws are pretty self-explanatory, but you may want to invest in linseed oil as it’ll increase the life expectancy of your wood. If you choose to opt-in for linseed oil, you’ll want to apply this before you start constructing the beds.

After you’ve done this, you can refer back to the rough sketches that you created earlier and start constructing your beds. Once you’ve made them, you’ll want to move them over to their designated spot.

Start adding soil and compost

Now your beds are in place, there’s one main ingredient left for plants to grow, soil! When shoveling soil into your beds, be sure to lay it loosely. This will enhance its draining capabilities which will help with the flow of water.

Now you’ve laid this. It would be ideal to cultivate a layer of compost into your soil. By doing this, you can ensure that your soil is nutrient-rich before you add your plants or vegetables into your new beds.

Finally, build your garden

Congratulations, now you’ve prepped your location, created your beds, and added soil into them, you can finally start building your dreamy garden. You’ll now want to introduce your plants to their new environment, but be sure you allow them enough space to grow between one another.  

Conclusion

As you’re able to see from the above, using pine wood to create your raised beds has a list of pros and cons. Choosing to opt-in for this type of material is down to personal preference, but it’s worth thinking about.

What intrigues a lot of people about this wood is the sheer inexpensiveness. Any novice gardener looking to try out this spectacular hobby may be more inclined to invest in something like this than an expensive wood like cedar.