The Best Materials for Raised Beds

I'm a huge fan of vegetable gardening - or any gardening for that matter - in raised beds. There are many reasons raised beds are great for gardens like being able to garden nearly anywhere (even on rocky ground), controlling the soil, or planting more plants in a smaller space but what actually makes a good raised bed? The best raised beds give you all the advantages I just mentioned and can be made of many different kinds of materials.

The Best Raised Bed Materials

In my mind the best raised bed materials are those that will last for a long time, are low on care or maintenance, and provide a healthy environment for plants and the people who eat them.

Natural Rocks: Natural rock raised beds definitely give you form and function - especially if you like the rustic/natural look (I'm a fan).

Bricks: reclaimed bricks make excellent raised bed materials
Concrete Blocks: concrete blocks made for construction are very economical.

Cedar or Redwood: Durable wood materials that naturally resist rot.

Pots: Believe it or not pots are great raised beds for vegetable gardening.

Good Raised Bed Materials

Good raised beds offer the function of a raised bed vegetable garden but may require some maintenance or repairs over time. They can be very functional yet attractive at the same time.

Untreated wood: Untreated beds will last only a couple years but are inexpensive and easy to put together.
Mounded Beds: Mounding is a good way to do a raised bed garden without sides for retaining soil. 
Poured Concrete

Poor and Bad Raised Bed Materials

Pressure Treated Lumber: Older pressure treated lumber should be avoided.  The treating process used to use arsenic but that is no longer the case. New pressure treated lumber is probably fine although I won't use it for edibles (I'm paranoid). Today's pressure treated lumber contains copper which probably won't leach into your soil in significant enough quantities to cause any harm.
Old Tires

If you are building a new raised bed this year you may want to look at this post: Designing a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden 11 Things to Think About.

I'm very partial to using stone and bricks as raised bed even though most of mine are built from cheap, readily available untreated pine. What materials do you like best for your raised beds?

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