Using Wood for Landscaping and Hardscapes

Wood has long been an essential of landscaping and hardscapes. It is frequently used to plot a boundary, to manage different kinds of beds that contain blossoms or bushes, and for raised beds for bloom and vegetable nurseries. Of course, it can be used as a fence, a retaining wall, a gazebo, or a deck.

 

Main Ways to Make Your Lawn Look Better with Wood

Building a deck adds an outdoor space to a home. They tend to improve home values, and they are definitely a family favorite.  Today’s decks are built at varying levels with seating and flower boxes built into the design.

If you don’t have an obvious place for a deck, you can add something free-standing. The most beautiful lawn structure is a gazebo.  This classic is often a work of art, and it’s a place to go when the house is too confining.  Other lawn structures include storage, playhouses, treehouses, and even tiny houses for single-family members.

Wood can also be used as a retaining wall. It is strong and durable, and it can be easier to work with than individual stones that must be laid and mortared.

Flower beds and vegetable gardens can be lined with wood to delineate them from the rest of the year.  Raised beds are another option, especially if you want to create a vegetable garden in an area with bad soil.  This not only looks good, but it also makes them easier to maintain. 

 

Main Factors to Consider When Choosing Wood

Until humans developed treated wood, the big threat was rot.  Rot is inevitable. It is brought about by exposure to microscopic organisms, parasites, and creepy crawlies. It turns into a significant factor when wood is put in direct contact with soil and in turn, dampness or moisture. The whole goal in selecting wood must be to get one that resists rot.

Unfortunately, we’ve learned that certain treatments are a threat to the environment and human health. So, is wood a good choice for yards today? There are several factors to consider when you want to add wood to your hardscape or use it to line flower beds. 

 

What’s the Wood Treated With?

If you want to buy treated wood, you need to know what it is treated with.  Humans have learned this the hard way.  Until 2004 or so, treated wood was dipped or pressure treated with a mix of three chemicals. Copper was used to prevent fungus growth, arsenic prevented insects from making it a snack, and chromium was used to bind the chemicals to the wood itself.

A huge concern was raised once it was discovered these chemicals ended up leaching into the soil over time, contaminating the water table wherever this wood was used.  In 2002, the wood industry announced they would stop using arsenic and chromium in wood treatments. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency issued regulations to reinforce that industry decision.

Nowadays, the wood you purchase at your everyday home improvement store is treated with micronized copper azole (CA) or basic copper quaternary ammonium (ACQ). The copper azole treated timber is similar in appearance to the CCA treated wood; however, CA treated wood has a green color to it, giving it the nickname “green wood”. The chemicals are still added to the wood the same way as before via dipping or pressure treatment. 

 

Which Wood is Good to Use?

So, what should you use?  There are some basic wood categories and alternatives to choose from.  First, you should feel safe to use so-called green wood for any outdoor use.  However, you want to make sure it has been pressure treated.  The dipped wood should not be in direct contact with the ground.

Second, if you are on a budget but you are still determined to utilize untreated wood, premade raised beds may be a more economical choice. This of course depends on the market in your area. If treated wood is not a deal-breaker for you, it is generally more accessible and regularly the most efficient.  You can stain wood and provide a temporary barrier that will slow down the rotting process.

Third, if you still don’t want to use treated wood, there are some natural alternatives. That’s because some woods are less susceptible to rot. These can go untreated and last longer in your yard.   Examples of this include redwood, cypress, cedar, and oak. These woods are more expensive, and this tends to lead to more people using treated cheaper wood.

Fourth, if you decide wood isn’t for you, you can get composite boards. Like composite mats often used at construction sites, these boards are hard and durable. They won’t leach chemicals into the soil.

Regardless of what kind of wood you decide to use in your landscaping, stay mindful of the potential harms the wood you chose can cause.

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