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Best wood for building a raised bed

Good afternoon lovely people on the Internet,

Having moved into a property with a beautifully mature largish garden in September- my family and I are now thinking about the various areas in the plot.
Currently there are 2 slightly raised beds which have lots of herbs which we wish to keep. However the wood is rotted and needs replacing imminently.

I was thinking of sleepers but they have doubled in price since I last bought some in 2020.
What other wood is durable but cheaper than sleepers. Ideally I would like it to last for several years! But I have no clue what size/ type would suit my needs.

Thanks in advance for any help


  • gwynlas
    gwynlas Posts: 1,692 Forumite
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    Scaffolding boards might suit your needs particularly if you can source then second hand. Alternatively you could use pavers on end again these might be free via local selling sites
  • We scavenged some decking that was being chucked out; we gave it a lick of paint and added a liner (used compost bags!) and they’re on year 3 of looking passable. Though this at an allotment, not back garden! 
  • baser999
    baser999 Posts: 1,134 Forumite
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    edited 26 February 2023 at 7:04PM
    Or the boards that you normally use along the bottom of a fence. They’ll be about 6-8in high and treated.
    Personally, and if money was no object, I’d build a ‘wall’ with railway sleepers
  • Railway sleepers stink in hot weather.
    Use pressure treated timber from your local timber merchants NOT the DIY sheds.
    I have raised beds etc made over 20 years ago & they are still in use.

  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,510 Forumite
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    Treated timber should be ok. Avoid any that are weeping the green preservative though.
    And it will smarten up while you get the rest sorted.

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  • ispookie666
    ispookie666 Posts: 1,179 Forumite
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    +1 for scaffolding board 
    I bought 10 of these used and made a few raised beds.  Adding a liner/weedcontrol fabric is essential
    “Don't raise your voice, improve your argument." - Desmond Tutu

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  • -taff
    -taff Posts: 14,474 Forumite
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    Depends on how you want it to look really. Use treated wood or scaffolding boards etc. Or use any old thing that you can source if money is tight. I made a raised bed [some parts need a bit more filling but my compost isn't ready yet]  in the front garden with clay roof tiles [ offered on freegle], they're not fixed, just slotted oppositely each row, but they do the job fine. I'm hoping some aubretia will seed in the gaps.
    If you can source some 4x4 or 6x6 wood, that would also do [ made raised beds in the back garden like lego, just by screwing the top one to the bottom one and same again on top] and last for a while. You could also used smashed up concrete and make a kind of rockery wall. Or gabions look nice and won't need replacing.
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  • Many thanks and a quick update. I managed to buy some sleepers in a sale at bradfords with free delivery and quidco cashback as a bonus. I'm really pleased with how the turned out.
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