4 Ways to Make Raised Garden Beds Last – Part 2!
Here we go again with the continuation of our discussion of raised garden beds. Have fun reading!
To keep the inside from rotting, it may be necessary to line the inside with a thick piece of plastic to keep moisture from staying there. Additionally, ensuring that the bottom layer of matter includes some drainage rocks should keep the bottom from rotting out. Using a recycled plastic board, like the ones our partners, Full Circle Plastics, in Canada, sell… ;) would provide water resistance and reinforcement strength. Plastic is great because it doesn’t rot; recycled plastic is even better because it keeps plastic out of landfills! (Ps. It has been tested and does not leach chemicals into the soil, which is super important for our organic growing friends out there!)
Plastic raised garden beds can be lightweight and easy to set up, depending on the design, that is! Full Circle Plastics raised beds are different from Walmart kits and are designed to withstand all but a nuclear disaster, so they aren’t exactly dainty in the weight class… (They are extremely durable and aren’t subject to becoming brittle over time.) Standard plastic raised bed kits from Walmart are easy to use, easy to put together, and hard to replace. Most “quick and easy” plastic kits are not weather-friendly; they bleach out in the sun and crack as they become more brittle. (Watch out for this in especially colder climates!) Most of the time, this happens on the side that is hardest to replace, and it is almost impossible to replace just one side without some kind of dark magic. Walmart does not adhere to the NAPA standard and does not provide replacement parts for their low-cost plastic kits—not to mention that creating a wood or metal work-around for a single busted-out garden wall can be difficult to attach to the existing plastic walls. So, in all, I might recommend that if the project is to appease the 4-H books and nothing more, plastic kits might be a good short-term solution.
The alternative to cheap plastic kits are boards from Full Circle Plastics! If you want your raised garden to outlast YOU… consider using recycled plastics. Plastic has been a problem for society since the 20th century, and Full Circle Plastics has come up with a way to make sure the “reuse” part of the “reduce-recycle-reuse” motto is in full effect! The recycled plastic has been tested to ensure that it doesn’t leach into soil, for overall fire resistance, and for a few other measures to ensure the best end-product for customers who choose to build non-structural projects. (Due to the thermal contractions, it isn’t considered safe to use for things such as load-bearing walls, etc., which might be affected by the expansion and contraction of the plastic at various temperatures.) Recycled plastic from Full Circle can be attached to wood or metal elements; just be sure to grab some of our lag screws to have the best “non-backout” power when building with these weather-tough products. When using these products, also consider that the Cat’s Claw Fasteners Fence Claw works great for attaching lights, nets, or other items to the plastic!
If you would like some inspiration on what can be done with these recycled plastic products, check out:
Project Ideas | Full Circle Plastics
We like the variety of products that can be built from some of the basic boards. Our favorites are retaining walls, raised garden beds, curb stops, and even recycled plastic fence posts! We took a trip to Canada to check out the facility and create a documentary. If you’re interested in learning more about recycled plastics and how Cat’s Claw is working with Full Circle Plastics, click here: The REAL solution to handling worldwide plastic waste
If this sounds like the end-all workaround for you, check out Where to Buy | Full Circle Plastics and find the nearest supplier near you.
With the aforesaid problems, one might think that metal is the way to go! Well, HOLD UP there, pard’ner… Metal corrodes, especially when alkaline soil is involved! If you intend on growing plants like the Montana mountain huckleberry, you will need to have alkaline soil.When you put metal in an alkaline environment, it starts to rust and wear away.. Even though this process is likely to take a few seasons, there is little point in putting up a solution that won’t last. In addition to keeping an eye on soil pH levels, it is critical to ensure that the metal is galvanized or has other coatings to prevent rust from moisture. It never hurts to grab a can of Rust-Oleum and give the metal a once-over!
Finally, regulate the outward-bound pressure load to prevent materials from warping or breaking. Consider double-walling some materials. In snowy places, cover them to prevent water from freezing and busting them.
Each substance has pros and cons. Leftover wood is cheap, but it rots and splits over time, so you need good drainage. Plastic (cheap Walmart kits) fades and cracks in the sun and cold. Full Circle Plastics boards are tough but durable. Metal is strong but can rust or corrode in alkaline soil.
Toby-Jeanne is the Cat’s Claw Queen, who infrequently gets roped into writing articles due to her crabby nature while word-smithing. She is a plant enthusiast, though none of her indoor plants have survived to adulthood. Fortunately, Ronnie the Cat’s Claw Cat is a little less picky about sunlight and watering schedules, so Toby-Jeanne has managed to keep him on the Cat’s Claw payroll since day 1. If you have any ideas or questions, forward them to Chava@catsclawfasteners.com because we do not even pretend Toby-Jeanne is good about remembering to answer emails. And don’t forget to keep up with Cat’s Claw Fasteners on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!