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metal vs. wood raised garden beds: which one is better?

Raised garden beds are continuously getting popular as more people are turning back to nature for safe, cheap, reliable, and healthy food. Also, with popularity comes innovative ideas in building these garden beds. 

When it comes to raised beds, various building materials can be used by both beginner and long-time gardeners. However, not all materials are suitable for every garden bed you make. Some can end up causing danger to you, your health, and your soil when neglected. 

weighing the pros and cons of two popular materials when building raised beds 

As mentioned, various materials can be used when planning to build raised beds. Some use cinder or concrete blocks, railroad ties, and two of the popular material for raised beds: wood and metal. 

If you are just starting with your raised garden bed, two of the popular options that you may choose from when it comes to materials are metal and wood. However, choosing between the two can become a tricky part. 

Below are some advantages and disadvantages of both options that will help you decide on which specific material to use for your raised beds. 

pros of using wood for raised bed gardens 

Wood is a popular and good choice when building raised beds. It is inexpensive and can be used in making various designs. You can even adjust the walls and make it taller depending on how you want your raised bed to look like. 

Other pros of using wood for your raised beds are: 

  • Get that traditional look for your garden. 

One way of making an attractive garden is by using wood for your raised beds. The beautiful natural marks on the wood will stand out after years of being exposed and make your garden look more elegant. 

  • Easy to install 

If you are aware of using power tools, installation can be easy. Wood is pretty much available anywhere, so getting some for your garden bed, would not be much of a problem. All it takes is for you to use the right sizes of wood and put them together. You just need to fill it up with the right soil mix and you can start planting. 

  • Can last for years 

Depending on how long you want to keep a garden bed, you can make one bed last for years. Building one made from pine can last for a maximum of 8 years depending on your place’s climate. You can also go for rot-resistant woods like cedar or redwood. These woods can last for up to 20 years. 

  • Various options to choose from 

As mentioned above, you can pick the type of wood depending on how long you want to keep them. Say, you are just planning to move to a new place after a couple of years, using a type of wood like pine may start rotting at about 8 years. For something that you want to last for a decade or two, rot-resistant words are for you. Another option is the use of compositive wood. In theory, it can last a lifetime without warping or rotting. 

cons of using wood for your raised beds 

Aside from the many advantages, the use of wood material for raised beds also has its disadvantages. Some of the significant ones are: 

  • It will not last forever 

This is the main disadvantage that you may get from using wood. Since it decays in time, you will have to replace it once it rots completely. The minimum number of years that you can make use of wood before it starts rotting is about 8 to 10 years. It can also be less than 8 years if you get untreated wood for your bed. 

  • Certain types of wood are expensive 

Rot-resistant woods such as cedar can be expensive depending on your location. It can either be inexpensive or not depending on the availability of cedar in your place or not. Expect it to become expensive if cedar is imported to your place. 

  • You may accidentally get treated lumber 

Without doing your homework and not knowing the difference between certain types of woods, you might end up getting pressure-treated woods for your raised beds. It is not recommended to use treated lumber especially if you are planning to grow vegetables as chemicals such as arsenic may leach into the soil. 

Wood is an ideal option for those looking for an inexpensive option when building a raised bed. It has its advantages and disadvantages, so you might want to consider looking into these first before deciding. 

pros of using metal for building your raised beds 

Another popular option when building raised beds is the use of metal. Now, when it comes to this material, it can range from galvanized metal, steel, or other types that you prefer using. Some of the advantages why you should also opt for this material are: 

  • Gives a cool industrial look to your garden 

Among the reasons why many are choosing this material is the fact that it gives a unique look to your garden. It gives this cool industrial look that makes your garden more unique to look at, unlike the traditional looking gardens. 

  • It is the quickest to set up 

Depending on the type of metal that you are going to use, metal garden beds are the quickest to set up. Most of the time, you just must go with the shape that you found them and adjust where necessary. If you find stock tanks that are usually in rectangular or round shapes, you need to make a couple of holes at the bottom for drainage.  

  • They last longer 

This is true for most galvanized steel. If you get galvanized metal, it can last longer because it will not easily rot even when exposed to water. The galvanized layer protects the metal from reacting. Others are coated with zinc alloy, but this is still safe since it will not cause any health scare even if it leaches into the soil. 

cons of using metal for your raised beds 

Along with some advantages are disadvantages that you may have to deal with when using metal as your material when building your raised beds. These disadvantages include: 

  • May cause accidents 

If you are unaware of some exposed edges of your metal bed, there is a great chance that it may cause accidents not only to you but for any member of the family. These exposed edges may cut not only to children but even adults. Be aware of sharp edges and make necessary adjustments to keep the beds safe. 

  • These are expensive 

Unlike wood, metal is an expensive option. Aside from the material itself, cutting them may require professional help or moving them from one place to another may require transporting services. So, if you are not ready for additional expenses, you should reconsider getting another option. 

  • Metal may heat up quickly and “burn” plants 

Now, this is possible. However, you can always adjust the placements of the plants to prevent them from being too close to the edges. If you are going to use steel, it is recommended that you plant less heat-sensitive crops to these beds to avoid damaging these crops. You should consider thinking about how hot the type of metal that you are going to use before installing them in your garden. 

Many are getting more interested in raised bed gardens as these are more convenient and creates more yields than traditional gardening. To make your garden beds last longer, you should go for a material that can withstand the weather for a long-term basis. Also, make use of the right soil mix especially when your garden soil is not good enough to support the growth of your plants. 

Before choosing your material, think if you can build it from scratch or requires the help of an expert. You can always choose to get garden bed kits that are easy to assemble and install whether in your garden or your patio. 

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