14 Best Wood For Garden Beds | With Pros and Cons

Best wood for garden beds

Raise plants in garden beds has become a trending option for gardeners. Due to high manageability and prevention from soil erosion, garden beds are preferred over inground gardens. As a woodworker who is doing gardening as a hobby, I thought to make wooden raised garden beds by myself. But I was curious about what woods should I go with to make garden beds as I wish. So, I have researched and here’re the Best wood for garden beds.

  1. Cedar
  2. Redwood
  3. Juniper (rustic-looking)
  4. Chestnut
  5. Yew
  6. Pine
  7. Catalpa
  8. Douglas Fir
  9. Cypress
  10. Hemlock
  11. Spruce
  12. Black Locust
  13. Black Walnut
  14. White Oak

So, in this article, we’re exploring the world of garden beds to find out the best wood for garden beds and discuss each one of them in detail with their qualities and drawbacks as well.

Furthermore, we’ll discuss the woods to avoid for garden beds and answer some frequently asked questions about garden beds as well.

So, let’s get going!

1. Cedar

Cedar is considered one of the best woods for garden beds. Western Red Cedar and Alaskan Yellow Cedar are popular options to make garden beds.

Here’re the qualities of Cedar which makes it perfect for garden beds. They are,

  • Naturally rot-resistant

Cedar is naturally rot-resistant and doesn’t need any chemical treatments. Because of its natural rot-resistant ability, Cedar garden beds can easily last for more than a decade or longer under any climate.

  • High water resistance

It has natural water resistance which is so much important for outdoor applications like garden beds.

  • Decay resistant

Red Cedar has a natural resistance to insect attacks. Cedar has chemical oil that protects the wood from insect attacks. Therefore, Cedar is decay resistant and can withstand insect attacks.

  • Beautiful appearance

Cedar is a type of wood that becomes better with age. When you leave the Cedar garden bed outside for one-two year, you’ll notice it changes into beautiful silver or grey color shade. This gives an aesthetic attractive look to your garden bed.

  • High stability

Cedar is a strong wood with good dimensional stability. Because of its great strength, Cedarwood garden beds can last around 30 -40 years.

Those are the main qualities that Cedarwood as which makes it perfect for garden beds.

Let’s summarize all the important details to find out what are the pros and cons of Cedarwood for making garden beds.

ProsCons
Rot-resistantExpensive
Decay resistantSoftwood (Less strong than hardwoods)
Water-resistantRequire high maintenance
High stabilityFlammable
AttractivenessUnable to keep the same color over time
Durability 

As you can see Cedar has the natural resistance to decay, pests, and elements. Cedar has a natural oil that protects the wood from water, decay, and bugs. This makes Cedar unique and different than many other wood types.

Cedar Wood has all the qualities that garden bed wood required. Such as

  • Stable
  • Durable
  • Attractiveness

2. Redwood

Redwood is a popular wood that is commonly used for garden beds. Redwood is plentiful and able to make high-quality garden beds that last for more than a decade.

Here’re the qualities of Redwood which makes it perfect for garden beds. They are,

  • Decay resistant

Redwood has natural decay resistance. Therefore, garden beds made of Redwood can easily withstand insect attacks and weathering. This gives Redwood garden beds the ability to sit in or around for years without decaying or composting.

  • Rot-resistant

Redwood has an oil produced by itself which helps the wood to prevent from rotting. Therefore, garden beds made of Redwood can last up to 20 years.

  • Durable

Even though Redwood is considered softwood, its natural tannins make the wood highly durable. It has the ability to repel rot and termites. Because of having high tannin content Redwood garden beds can last longer than Cedar garden beds.

Those are the main qualities of Redwood that make it perfect for garden beds.

So, let’s see what the pros and cons of Redwood are you’ll get by using Redwood to make garden beds.

ProsCons
Decay resistantNeed proper finishing because of being a softwood
DurableNeed high maintenance
Rot-resistantExpensive
Lightweight 
Great for outdoor projects 

So, let’s find out what makes Juniper great to make your next garden bed project.

3. Juniper (Rustic-Looking)

Rustic-looking Juniper is great to use for making garden beds. Juniper is an excellent choice for any outdoor woodworking project because of its strength and durability.

Here’re the reasons that we use Juniper to make garden beds.

  • Affordable

By using rustic-looking Juniper, you can get mostly the same qualities as Cedar and Redwood give, by spending less amount of money. When making garden beds usually need a higher number of wood pieces than we use to make furniture. Therefore, being affordable is a plus point for choosing the right wood type for garden beds.

I personally recommend rustic-looking Juniper for one of the cheapest woods that can use for making garden beds which has exceptional qualities for the price value.

  • Rot-resistant

Juniper has the natural rot-resistant ability as Redwood and Cedar which makes it perfect for outdoor woodworking projects like making garden beds. Juniper does not need and chemical infusion to keep it away from rotting because its naturally produced oils will keep the wood protected over years.

  • Environmentally friendly

Juniper helps to protect ecosystems than any other wood type. The oils which keep the wood protected from rotting eventually leech out to the soil and act as a fertilizer. Chemicals in that oil will be absorbed by plants and help them to grow well. They have zero harmful effects on the outside world and protect the wood from weather and pests for over decades.

So, let’s summarize the pros and cons of Juniper that are important when making garden beds.

ProsCons
Environmentally friendlyLess durable
Rot-resistantLasts less than 7 – 8. Years
AffordableTough to cut
Helps to grow plantsHard to fit pieces together without gaps

4. Chestnut

Chestnut is considered one of the best long-lasting wood that can use for a garden bed. It has a beautiful straight grain texture that can use for any kind of woodworking purpose.

Here’re the best qualities of Chestnut wood that are important for making garden beds.

  • Rot-resistant

Chestnut is wood with tannins that are useful to protect the wood from weather and insect attacks. Also, Chestnut is a hardwood with high density and its rot resistance ability is considered as its finest quality.

  • Easy to work

Making garden beds with Chestnut wood is easy because of its high workability. Chestnut glue and nails well. Even a beginner in woodworking can make a garden bed using Chestnut without any issues due to its high workability.

  • Beautiful appearance

Chestnut has attractive dark or light brown color with a rustic look. Therefore, Chestnut is popular for outdoor applications. Its unique texture and appearance add a new color to your garden.

Let’s summarize the pros and cons of Chestnut in making garden beds.

ProsCons
Easy to work withSplit easily
Rot-resistantLess availability
Beautiful appearance 
Not harmful for human skin or the environment 
Worth for the price 
Durable 

Read: 5 Best Methods To Keep Wood From Splitting

5. Yew

Yew is considered one of the best long-lasting wood that is perfect for garden beds. It is hard and durable wood that is commonly used for commercial purposes.

Here’re are some qualities of Yew wood, important in making garden beds.

  • Appearance

Yew wood has nice looking orange, brown color with straight grain. it has a uniform texture that will add a unique aesthetic look to your garden beds. Yew wood makes attractive garden beds for sure.

  • High durability

Yew wood can withstand stress, wear, and tear. It is so durable and garden beds made of Yew wood can easily last over 10 – 20 years.

  • Rot-resistant

Yew wood has natural rot resistance which is pretty much useful in garden beds. It tends to withstand insect attacks and therefore Yew wood can use to make garden beds even in humid areas as well.

Here’re the summarized pros and cons of Yew wood in terms of making garden beds.

ProsCons
Rot resistanceToxic to human skin
High durabilityThe oily surface of the wood can affect the finishes
Attractive 

Tip: As you can see the toxicity of Yew wood can irritate the skin, respiratory problems, and eye allergies. So, when you’re using Yew wood to make garden beds, always wear goggles, gloves and follow safety guidelines.

Other than that, Yew is an excellent wood for garden beds.

6. Pine

Pinewood is a suitable wood for a raised garden bed. Pine is softwood with attractive wood grain, and it has many other unique characteristics which are important when making a garden bed.

Here’re some great qualities of Pinewood that are useful in garden bed making.

  • Inexpensive

Apart from using Cedar and Redwood, most people go for Pine due to its low cost. When you’re planning to make a huge number of garden beds, you should really care about the cost. On those occasions, Pinewood gives exceptional qualities for the price that is useful in outdoor woodworking projects.

  • Dimensional stability

Even though Pine wood is considered softwood, it has good stability that is pretty much useful in making garden beds. Pine takes manipulation with lather, saw, or router as well.

Because of its stability, it is so much easy to keep garden bed frames steady for screwing, sanding, and drilling.

If you’re a beginner in woodworking who is planning to make garden beds, Pine is a type of wood that makes you feel comfortable when using.

So, let’s find out what are the pros and cons you’ll get by using Pinewood as the garden bed material.

ProsCons
CheapLess resistant to moisture
High stabilityLess rot resistant
LightweightNeed to focus more on sealing and finishing
AttractivePine lasts long only for 7 – 10 years. Less than hardwoods.
Easy to work withEasily get attacked by insects and pests

As you can see, Pinewood needs to be finished with care and need good maintenance because of is a softwood. By applying a good finishing product like sealer or paint, you’ll be able to keep Pine garden beds that last the same as Cedar and Redwood garden beds with ease.

7. Catalpa

Catalpa is an underrated hardwood with lots of exceptional qualities that are suitable to make raised garden beds. It is used in many indoor and outdoor woodworking projects and people have gained good results with it. Therefore, Catalpa is included under the best woods for garden beds.

Here’re some of the great qualities of Catalpa which are important in raised garden bed making.

  • Dimensional stability

Catalpa is dimensionally stable. Therefore, you can get the shape you want for a garden bed with ease without splitting or cracking the wood. because of its stability, Catalpa garden beds don’t check or twist.

  • Rot-resistant

Catalpa is also fallen into the rot-resistant category which is great for outdoor woodworking projects like making a garden bed.

  • Easy to work with

Catalpa wood is easy to handle, screw, nail, and glue. It can easily work with hand tools and power tools. You can get a nice and smooth crisp edge with Catalpa, which makes your garden bed more attractive and unique.

Here’re the summarized pros and cons of Catalpa which are useful in making garden beds.

ProsCons
High workabilityHard to finish due to less absorbance of Pine pored latewood and can get screen blotchiness
Rot-resistantStaining is not recommended due to the muddy look
Dimensional stabilityLess availability

8. Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir is a suitable softwood material for raised beds. It contains no harmful chemicals, and it is an eco-friendly option to make garden beds.

Here’re some great qualities of Douglas Fir which are important in garden bed making.

  • Affordable

Douglas Fir is a cheap option for raised beds. You can easily get qualities for the paying price that will lead to properly made garden beds.

  • Long-lasting

Garden beds made of Douglas Fir can last long easily for 7 -10 years. Therefore, in terms of durability Douglas, fir is better than most of the softwoods.

  • No chemicals

Douglas Fir has zero toxicity towards the human skin and outside environment. It does not release any chemicals to the outdoor world.

Here’re some pros and cons of Douglas Fir in raised garden bed making.

ProsCons
Cheaper than hardwoodsExpensive than softwoods
High durabilityNeed high maintenance
No harmful chemicals 
Has good strength 
Significant decay and moisture resistant 

As you can see Douglas Fir has some wonderful qualities as softwood, which make it a special component in garden bed making.

So, let’s talk about another best wood for garden beds and its qualities.

9. Cypress

Cypress is great to make garden beds because it can add rustic elegance to your yard. Other than Cedar and Redwood, Cypress is also considered a top tire wood type for garden beds with lots of great qualities.

Here’re are some of them,

  • Rot-resistant

Cypress has the natural rot resistance, and it has more heartwood than new cousins which is harder and much more resistant to rot. Cypress contains natural oil which helps to protect the wood from outdoor elements.

  • Long-lasting

Cypress garden beds last for more than a decade. It has good water resistance and can withstand attacks from insects and pests.

  • Easy to work with

Working with Cypress wood is easy and fun. It has good nailing, gluing, and sanding properties. Even a beginner in woodworking can easily catch up on techniques and methods by using Cypress wood. You can fit Cypress wood pieces tightly without any gaps and make beautiful well-finished garden beds with a little effort.

It has good finishing qualities as well. Stain and paints hold well to the wooden surface.

Here’re some pros and cons of Cypress wood which make it significantly valuable to use for garden beds.

ProsCons
Attractive light yellowish-brown colorToxicity (Wear gloves and mask during the process)
Rot-resistantSour odor
High workability 
Straight grain and texture 
Cheap 

As you can see even though Cedar and Redwood are considered the best woods, both are expensive wood types. But Cypress is a cheap wood while providing the same number of qualities as the other two. This makes Cypress special over any kind of wood in making garden beds.

10. Hemlock

Hemlock is hardwood lumber with a great amount of strength. Hemlock can make garden beds with good strength and more durable than most other softwood types.

Here’re some great qualities of Hemlock in garden bed making.

  • High strength

Hemlock is a hardwood with 11,300 psi bending strength and great hardness. If you’re looking for wood with good hardness and strength, Hemlock is the wood that I personally recommend to make garden beds.

But because of being so hard and dense, working with Hemlock is quite difficult than many other kinds of wood. That’s the drawback of Hemlock. It is useful for rough products.

  • Easy to finish

Hemlock garden beds are easy to finish. Hemlock has a smooth texture that absorbs stain so easily and therefore it gets coated well. This will improve the appearance and the lifetime of your garden bed.

Here’re some pros and cons of Hemlock wood which are important in garden bed making.

ProsCons
Attractive reddish-brown color gives unique look to garden beds and also the uniform textureNo decay resistance. Easy to get attacked by insects. 
Take paint and stain so easilyToxicity. Make sure to wear gloves and a mask when making garden beds using Hemlock wood.
High strength and hardness 

Hemlock wood easily gets attacked by outdoor elements like insects and moisture. Therefore, you’ll need to focus more on the finishing part when making garden beds with Hemlock wood. Otherwise, your whole effort will be a waste of time. so, make sure to apply a properly suitable sealer after the woodworking part is done.

11. Spruce

Spruce is known as the best wood for garden beds in terms of mobility and price. It is affordable wood and lightweight. Therefore, handling is so much easier than working with hardwoods.

But because of being softwood, Spruce garden beds will easily get attacked by insects and pests. To prevent that Spruce woods are pressure treated before making the garden beds.

Here’re some great qualities of Spruce that make it special for making raised garden beds.

  • Affordable

Spruce is a cheaper option for making garden beds. But those beds will last more than 7 – 10 years. Therefore, Spruce is more than worth the price. You can make garden beds more than you wish by spending a very little amount of money on Spruce while gaining the finest qualities.

  • Appearance

Spruce has a bright color that changes into yellowish-brown color with age. Garden beds made of Spruce are easily recognizable and attractive because of this unique aesthetic color.

Also, Spruce has a clear surface with excellent structural striped grains.

Let’s find out what are the pros and cons of Spruce that useful in making raised beds.

ProsCons
AffordableLess resistant to insects.
AttractiveNo weather resistance
LightweightLess decay resistance

As you can see Spruce can easily get damaged because of environmental elements such as water, moisture, and insects. To prevent those, you should focus on finishing the wood with a suitable stain, paint, or any other sealer that protects the wood from outside by blocking the entrances.

12. Black Locust

Black Locust is a dense wood with exceptional qualities that are probably useful in making raised garden beds. It is a medium-sized hardwood with great strength.

Here’re some qualities of Black Locust which are helpful in making garden beds.

  • Highly durable

Because of being a dense hardwood, Black Locust has great durability. It is resistant to most environmental elements such as moisture, humidity, and insect attacks. Garden beds made of Black Locust last more than two three-decade.

  • Resistant to environmental elements

Black Locust garden beds last so long. The wood contains a high concentration of an anti-fungal compound called taxifolin and flavonoids which prevent the wood from rotting and give protection from insect attacks.

  • Decay resistant

Black Locust has natural decay resistance which helps garden beds to last long over decades. The reason for its resistance to decay is because of having a high amount of calcium oxalate.

Here’re the summarized pros and cons of Black Locust in making garden beds.

ProsCons
Highly durableHard to work with
Decay resistant 
High strength 

As you can see Black Locust is wood with lots of advantages in making garden beds than disadvantages.

13. Black Walnut

Black Walnut is a great choice for garden beds. It is a dense wood with a lively surface texture and excellent processing qualities. Carving, sanding, and finishing is so much easy with Black Walnut.

Here’re some useful qualities of Black walnuts in making garden beds.

  • Resistant to fungi attacks

Black Walnut has a unique feature that is resistant to most fungi attacks. This makes it suitable for most outdoor woodworking projects. Plus, it is resistant to insects as well.

  • High stability

Black Walnut can fulfill one of the major requirements for being the best wood for garden beds by having great dimensional stability. It warps only slightly and lasts longer over a decade.

Here’re some pros and cons of Black Walnut which are useful in making garden beds.

ProsCons
Easy to work withNo weather resistance
High stabilityExpensive
High strengthLess availability
Resistant to fungi and insect attacks 
Aesthetic structure 

So, lets’ find out the specific features of the next best wood for garden beds, White Oak.

14. White Oak

White Oak is a good material for garden beds with natural rot resistance and it is 50% to 100% stronger than the woods like Pine. It is heavy and filled with lots of exceptional qualities.

Here’re are some qualities of White Oak that are useful in making garden beds.

  • Beautiful grain

White Oak has a beautiful grain which makes your garden beds more attractive. The natural texture of White Oak does not ruin by applying stain or any other transparent finisher. It’ll still have a lot of character.

  • Highly durable

White Oak is considered one of the most durable wood types that can use for garden bed making. It is resistant to dents and scratches.

  • Rot-resistant

White Oak is less favorable to warp and resistant to rotting and many other environmental elements. Therefore, White Oak can use for any outdoor woodworking project with ease. Garden beds made of White Oak last over a decade or two.

Here’re the pros and cons of White Oak which are useful in making garden beds.

ProsCons
Attractive textureExpensive
High durabilityHeavy and hard
Can get any color you want by spraying without destroying its natural beautyZero thermal resistance
High water resistance 
Easy to stain 

As you can see White Oak gives the luxurious look to your garden beds and you’ll feel proud about the final outcome. This makes it one of the best wood for garden beds.

Woods To Avoid for Garden Beds

  • Recycled woods
  • Reclaimed woods
  • Old woods
  • Old pressure-treated woods

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: Best Wood for Garden Beds

In this article, we have deeply discussed the best wood for garden beds by taking 14 wood types. We have talked about the special character features of each wood with their advantages and disadvantages towards making garden beds.

Ultimately, my advice is all 14 wood types that are discussed in this article are great to make garden beds. But you should always focus on the preparation and finishing parts of the process.

For example, even though wood is weather-resistant, you should apply a good sealer to protect from outdoor elements. Because no wood has 100% resistance for anything.

Also, I have answered what are the woods that you should avoid in making garden beds. I hope by reviewing each wood one by one, now you can get an idea or take the final decision of your personal choice to select the best wood for garden beds with ease.


About Walter Parker

Walter Parker is a father and woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking!

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