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Five Tips for People Who Want to Build a Raised Garden Frame From Untreated Timber

Timber designed for outside use is usually chemically treated to protect it from termites, weather and other threats. However, if you are using timber to build a frame for a raised garden bed, you may want to avoid treated timber, as its chemicals may leach into the soil. In other cases, you may simply have untreated timber on hand, and you may be looking for ways to seal and protect it before you make the frames for your garden beds.

Luckily, in both cases, there are ways to safely treat wood on your own. Here are some ideas to explore:

1. Paint your timber.

Paint seals timber and helps protect it from the elements. If you opt to paint the timber you are using for your garden beds, use environmentally-friendly paint with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC). Also, use paint designed for use outdoors that promises to be waterproof.

2. Seal it with natural oils.

If you don't want to paint your frame, consider making your own sealants with natural ingredients from your kitchen. A mixture of one part vinegar to three parts canola oil works perfectly. Simply mix the oil and vinegar and apply it to your timber with a dry rag or brush.

If the wood seems dry or brittle after the mixture has dried, apply extra coats as needed. You may substitute olive oil, grape seed oil or other oils if you prefer.

3. Line the timber with plastic.

In lieu of oiling your timber, you may line it with plastic. Cut heavy duty plastic into pieces that are large enough to cover one side of each piece of your timber. Then, glue or staple the plastic to the timber.

You should cover the side that is going to be in contact with the soil -- the plastic should create a barrier between the wood and soil to prevent the migration of insects and moisture from the soil to the wood.

Alternatively, you may wrap landscaping fabric around your timber and use that to protect it. You can cover just the side that touches the ground, or you can cover the whole piece of wood.

4. Choose timber with longevity in mind.

If you haven't already purchased your timber, you may want to forgo the idea of treating it on your own. Instead, you should just shop for timber with longevity in mind. There are many types of wood that are relatively naturally resistant to insects, moisture and other threats.

For example, several hardwood species such as teak grow well in Australia, and these species are naturally resistant to the perils of the outdoors. Alternatively, you can use woods that mimic the qualities of durable hardwoods -- for example, bald cypress is a conifer, but it is rot resistant like many hardwoods.

Finally, you may want to speak with a timber specialist in your area about local timbers that are uniquely resistant to the threats of your particular climate.

5. Replace your timber more often.

Timber is treated so that it lasts longer, and if you want to avoid treated timber, you may simply need to replace your garden frames more often. If possible, plan to include replacement timber in your gardening budget as needed. Untreated timber lasts varying amounts of time based on several factors including your climate, the type of wood you use, which type of natural sealants you select, the PH levels in your soil and other factors.

To help you plan for the future of your garden, a timber specialist can give you an estimate of how long untreated timber may last in your situation. To learn more, contact a timber supplies company today.