Saturday, February 21, 2009

to trex or not to trex, that is the question

late december found most of the infrastructure in place in my garden area. the water line was installed, bringing water to the lower section of the garden; electrical conduit was installed and the fence was in on three sides - so the next thing was to start getting the beds installed. terracing was necessary to level out the slope - but that will be covered in a future post.

i had been pondering what type of material to use for my beds. i never really considered stone or any concrete type material, as my preference had been rough cut redwood 2x12 material and although i hadnt worried too much about pressure treated wood, i didnt want to use it in my raised beds - its longevity probably wouldnt be much better than redwood - and why introduce any issues, no matter how remote into my food chain.

so, i was leaning very heavily on the 2x12 redwood. at about the time i was ready to pull the trigger on my material purchases - a friend of my wife was having her husband replace the wood on her raised beds. and guess what material she had used... thats right 2x12 rough cut redwood. her raised beds had been in use for about 8 years - which is not bad for ground contact wood.

just using the redwood for the beds was the cheapest route for building my beds - but if you calculate the cost of another set of wood 10 years down the road and various schemes to minimize dirt contact with the redwood (such as sealing the wood, lining the interior of it with plastic or tar paper or some other device to keep the dirt from touching the wood) it soon became apparent that using trex would probably be a better investment in the long run than initially thought. also, given the length of the beds i was planning to install (up to 16 feet long) i would have to splice the redwood for every bed on its long side - making for a less than optimum installation of redwood. trex on the other hand came in lengths up to 16 feet - available at the big orange box store not too far from my house.

as the dollar aspect of trex versus redwood started to become clearer, one day i googled 'ground contact trex raised beds' and got a lot of hits; the most useful link that came up that was a link to the gardenpunks website. looking over their experience with trex beds, i shot off an email to katie (the gardenpunk queen) and over the series of emails asking about trex as a raised bed material, i was pretty sure i would be using trex for my beds.

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