People are now making raised beds for growing plants as it gives a better growing environment and proper drainage system. The material of the raised-beds is very crucial for the safety of the plants and human health alike. Plastics like vinyl can be one of the cheapest options for raised beds, but are vinyl garden beds safe?
Vinyl garden beds are often used for growing plants these days, as they are cheap and durable. However, regular vinyl leaches toxic chemicals into the soil, which can be absorbed by the plants. Hence, it is wise not to use vinyl beds for growing vegetable or fruit plants.
To explain further about the safety of vinyl beds for growing plants, I will explain how vinyl or PVC affects plants. I will talk about the pros and cons of using vinyl beds, and then you can decide on using vinyl beds for your garden.
PVC or Vinyl Plastic for Gardening?
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), or in short, vinyl has various uses in maintaining a garden. You will see hose pipes, tubes, irrigation tubes, garden gloves, and things made of Vinyl plastic for gardening. Hence, it may seem normal to use Vinyl Gardening beds.
However, you must understand that PVC has some chemical elements that are hazardous to your health. Thus, it is better to understand how the chemicals of PVC affect the plants. It will help you to use vinyl beds wisely in the garden. So, you should start knowing how the chemical leaches into the soil.
Does Vinyl Leach into Soil?
All plastics leach chemicals. The chemicals from food-safe plastics are not toxic enough to cause any harm to our bodies. Unfortunately, the chemicals leached from Vinyl plastic are harmful to our body and environment. The chemicals of PVC not only contaminate the soil but also the water and air.
Garden beds have to be kept outside for proper sunlight for the plants. So, you have to keep the vinyl garden beds outside under the sun. Eventually, the heat of the sunlight and many other factors affects the plastic. The plastic becomes weak and gets micro-level cracks that may not be visible to the naked eye.
The cracks leach chemicals such as Phthalates and Chlorine. These chemicals are used to make vinyl plastic strong and durable. As the plants have to be watered regularly, the chemicals of the vinyl easily get mixed with the soil of the plant bed. Hence, there is a high chance that plants will take in the toxic chemicals with the water and minerals of the soil.
Can You Use A Vinyl Bed for Flower Plants?
After hearing that, you may wonder if you can use vinyl garden beds for flower plants. The answer is simple. You can use it. You can use any type of containers or planters made of different plastics to raise flower plants. The chemicals leaked from the plastics will not have drastic consequences for growing flower plants as it has for food plants.
You can see that the chemicals of vinyl or other plastics are hazardous for the human body. As edible or food plants are consumed by us, we also take in the chemicals. As a result, it affects our health. So, it is better not to use vinyl beds for vegetable or fruit gardens.
On the other hand, flower plants are decorative and grown for aesthetic reasons. So, even if the plants absorb the toxic chemicals, it will not affect human health. As you will not be eating them, the risk of health problems will not be an issue. Therefore, using vinyl beds for a flower garden is not a problem.
Besides, the chemicals do not hamper the plants any other way. They will grow naturally without any problem. But the amount of toxic elements will be the same for all plants when you use the vinyl garden bed. So, try to avoid using flowers from these plants for any purpose with food in mind.
In fact, using vinyl garden beds for flower plants can be very cheap. Since PVC is one of the most common plastics available in the market, you can easily reuse other containers or things like PVC pipes and car tires to make a flower bed.
The black color of the tire controls the sunlight and heat and helps to retain more moisture for a longer time. Hence, the use of plastics for growing flower gardens is increasing these days.
Moreover, you can also buy vinyl garden beds for your garden at a cheap price. They are quite easy to set up in the garden. Flower plants planted in these beds can grow nicely if you organize a better water supply and drainage system.
Is Vinyl Bad for Food Plants?
Vinyl Gardening Beds made from regular PVC are not for growing any edible plants. You have to understand that other items like hose pipes or hand gloves have mostly temporary use for the plants in your garden and only come into limited contact. On the other hand, you will practically grow your plants inside vinyl beds.
Therefore, your plants will be exposed to Phthalates and Chlorine leaked from vinyl all the time. Phthalates are extremely necessary to make PVC flexible. Although it is useful for making vinyl, the chemical poses a serious threat to our health when we consume it.
So, if you are planning to use vinyl gardening beds for growing fruits and vegetables, then you should think twice. The vinyl beds will be durable, but regular PVC is one of the most toxic plastics. The plastic of vinyl falls under Plastic Type 3, which is extremely dangerous for the human body.
So, when the Vinyl beds start leaking chemicals into the soil, the chemicals will get mixed with the soil around the plant. Then, the water will help to dissolve the chemicals, and it becomes easier for the plants to absorb them.
Many people argue that the chemicals of plastics eventually get wasted away or washed away with water and only minute trace amounts of it enters the plants. It might be true about other food-safe plastics, but in the case of vinyl, it is not true. The chemicals of this type of plastic are very strong and do not get washed away so easily.
So, when the edible plants or any food plants absorb the phthalates, they remain inside the plants. However, the chemical will be found in different doses on different parts of the plant.
As the roots of the plants absorb everything, the toxic chemicals will be at their highest in the roots. Then, it will reach the stems and eventually the leaves, flowers, and fruits. So, the leaves and fruits of the plant may not contain the same number of toxic elements as the roots.
Toxic chemicals from plastics like PVC were found in plants like strawberries, lettuce, cabbages, and carrots. Therefore, when someone eats fruits and vegetables, they are also exposed to the chemicals. Even a small number of phthalates can seriously affect your body.
Researchers have found traces of phthalates in the urine of people who are exposed to vinyl. Researchers believe that these phthalates most likely enter their bodies because they somehow consumed them. Phthalates cause many serious diseases such as asthma, breast cancer, ADHD, obesity, autism, diabetes, and reproductive problems.
Hence, you have to make sure the type of Vinyl bed you are using for your plants is safe for you. Fortunately, there are two other types of vinyl which are Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) and Polyethylene Vinyl Acetate (PEVA).
These types of vinyl are safe for the human body. They are often used in making baby teethers, food storage bags, shower curtains, and other ways. So, if you find Vinyl beds made of EVA and PEVA, you can use them for gardening without any hesitation. But, always try not to use garden beds that have toxic elements for vegetable or fruit plants.
Pros of Using Vinyl Bed for Gardening
No matter how potentially toxic vinyl plastic can get, people are still using vinyl garden beds for planting trees. People, who know the best, will definitely avoid using vinyl for food plants. But if you want to plant flower plants or other decorative plants, there are many reasons why you can try vinyl garden beds.
Here are some pros of using Vinyl Beds for Gardening:
Durability: Vinyl beds are comparatively a lot more durable than other beds made from wood or clay. The vinyl garden beds are strong enough to endure harsh weather and different seasons for years after years. When you use them outdoors, they can withstand heat, rain, or snow for a long time.
Low Cost: This is another reason why people are interested in using vinyl beds for gardening. They are budget-friendly. So, people like to have something durable at such a cheap price. Besides, the cost of garden beds influences the use of material.
Low Maintenance: Other garden beds like wooden or clay beds need to be mantained from time to time. As the materials are not so durable, you have to keep an eye on them so that you can replace them in time. But vinyl beds do not need to be changed or lined like other beds. They do not require such high maintenance, and you can change the beds infrequently.
Availability: Things made of vinyl are easily available. You can DIY a vinyl plant bed by yourself, or you can buy one from the market at a cheap price. Using expired tires is an economical way of growing flower gardens. They look unique, and the plants can also thrive in them.
Shapes and Sizes: Vinyl beds come in different shapes and sizes. You can customize the size according to your choice and the space you want to turn into a garden. The beds have enough space and depths for containing soil and give a stable ground to the plants.
Movability: Wooden beds, clay beds, and hardboard beds are heavy. Compared to other materials, vinyl beds are really light. So, you can easily set and remove the beds whenever it is necessary.
Color Options: You can buy vinyl plant beds of different colors. So, if you want to have a garden based on a theme and color, you can bring vinyl beds according to that. You can also paint the beds yourself.
UV Resistance: Vinyl is UV resistant material. Therefore, it traps the heat and keeps the plants warm during the winter. Besides, the plastic of vinyl keeps insects away from the plants. So, no pests can threaten the health of your plants.
Cons of Using Vinyl Beds for Gardening
As you can see, there are a lot of benefits of using Vinyl planting beds. However, there are also some negative sides to using vinyl beds. So, you should also consider these sides of vinyl beds.
Here is what you should be aware of before using vinyl beds:
Leaches Toxic Chemicals: The biggest downside of using PVC garden beds is the level of toxic chemicals leaked into the soil from them. Hence, it is unsuitable for growing fruits and vegetables. Although flower plants can still be situated on vinyl beds, the soil gets contaminated.
Not Eco-friendly: PVC is level as the worst kind of plastic in terms of recycling. They cannot be reused, and they do not decompose even in a hundred years. So, it is harmful for our environment.
Breakable: Vinyl beds are durable until they are broken. They can easily break into pieces if you mishandle them and are not repairable. So, you have to be careful not to break vinyl beds when you are carrying them.
Non-permeable Material: Vinyl beds are made of plastic that traps heat. It is nice for plants during winter. In other seasons water, air and heat can get trapped and cause the plants serious damage. So, the root system of the plants may not function properly.
So, Should You Use Vinyl Beds?
Now, using vinyl garden beds depends on your own choice and preference. You should consider all the pros and cons before installing the beds in your garden.
If you are concerned about how the chemicals affect your body or others, you should not use vinyl garden beds for growing plants. You must think about your wellbeing and stop using things that contain toxic elements. You have to remember that your life is more valuable than getting something at a cheap price!!
Again, vinyl beds can be used for growing flowers. But then again, if you think about the environment, you have to reconsider the idea. As human beings, we are also part of our environment, and it is also our responsibility to keep the environment safe.
As you can see, PVC plastics are not eco-friendly and can contaminate the environment. Moreover, they take years to break down and decay and so take up a lot of space. So, if it is possible, try to avoid using vinyl beds and any other plastic items.
But if you can make sure that the vinyl beds you are buying are not like regular PVC and they do not contain any toxic substances, you can buy them. Unfortunately, the risk of creating more plastic waste remains the same.
However, there is also the question of availability, durability, and cost. People who are looking for cheap material that is durable and easily available should use vinyl garden beds. However, they are encouraged to use the vinyl bed only for making flower gardens.
What Are Some Other Options?
As you have come to understand the effect of vinyl garden beds on organic plants, you may want to think about other garden beds made of different materials that are less toxic than PVC. Luckily, there are a few options to think about, although most of them are expensive. However, the price does not matter if it ensures your safety.
So, here are some other garden beds you can use instead of Vinyl beds:
Plastic Beds: High-density Polyethylene (HDPE) is plastic that is safe for containing food. Therefore, they are also safe for growing plants. The chemicals of these plastics are not serious as that found in PVC. Also, plastic beds are cheap.
Wooden Bed: Wooden beds can be expensive and high maintenance, but wood is the best option for garden beds. They are natural and do not affect human health or the environment.
Bamboo beds: Bamboo beds are another cheap option for anyone who has a tight budget for buying plant beds. These beds might be less durable, but like wood, bamboo is eco-friendly.
Clay Beds: These are expensive but strong beds for gardens. The materials of clay beds are harmless to both plants and humans.
Cardboard Beds: These beds are also cheap and eco-friendly. So, if budget is a problem for you, you can buy cardboard beds. They do not leach any chemicals, but they are not long-lasting.
Other Beds: There are also beds made of other materials apart from what I have mentioned. They can be terracotta beds, iron beds, steel beds, and even concrete beds,
So, are vinyl garden beds safe? No, it is not safe to use vinyl beds for food plants, but you can use them for growing flower plants if you have no other options available. Even though some vinyl beds are food-safe, they can still create plastic wastes.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope this article was informative enough to answer all of your queries.