Cinder Block vs. Wood Raised Bed – Pros and Cons

Cinder Block vs. Wood Raised Bed – Pros and Cons

Raised garden beds have been exceedingly common in recent years. The walls of your raised bed may be made out of a variety of materials. We’ll compare cinder block vs. wood raised beds in this article.
Raised beds are commonly made of both wood and cinder blocks. For those unfamiliar, a raised bed is a garden bed that is raised above the ground and covered by walls. It is only because of these walls that it is a higher bed; normally, any bed higher than the ground will be called a raised bed.
Both wood raised beds and cinder blocks are excellent alternatives, but each has disadvantages. While cinder blocks can produce dangerous chemicals that could contaminate plants, they are inexpensive. Wood is better for culinary plants, but it rots quickly and isn’t necessarily sourced sustainably.

Using a raised bed has many benefits. Because of its height, it is generally simpler to deal with. More specifically, you should use this alternative for good soil if the soil on the field is not really safe. These may also deter rabbits and gophers from damaging trees.

What is Better: A Cinder Block or a Wood Raised Bed?

Choosing a raised bed material is often influenced by external influences. For example, consider how big you want the bed to be, what you’re attempting to develop, and the temperature. Both wood raised beds and cinder block, however, have advantages and drawbacks.

Pros and Cons in Cinder Block Raised Beds

Pros and Cons in Cinder Block Raised Beds

Advantages

Easily available and affordable

The most significant benefit of cinder block raised beds over wood raised beds is their accessibility. Locally, ready-made cinder blocks for garden beds are accessible. Even since they are less expensive than timber, setting down any raised beds in your garden would not split the bank.

Small concrete blocks can be had for as little as $1 each. That means cinder blocks can be used to make raised beds for as little as $20. As a consequence, these are also a decent option for beginners, as they are quick to assemble.

Long-lasting

Cinder block is perhaps the most durable of all the raised bed products available. These will potentially last for years without having to be repaired or replaced. That, however, is highly dependent on the cinder block’s consistency.

Cheap cinder block can leak or chip, but these issues are easily remedied. They are a smart option for areas that are vulnerable to natural hazards like windstorms and tornadoes because they are so durable. To put it another way, this stuff is the strongest protection against all-natural and man-made disasters.

Easily transportable

A single block is compact and simple to move. You can quickly move a cinder block from the back of any car to the backyard by putting many of them on a dolly or wheelbarrow. This is one of the main reasons that cinder blocks are commonly used for raised beds. Better still, since children can hold them, constructing a raised bed can happily be a family weekend project.

They’re simple to erect anywhere you need them in your yard. The pieces’ portability would encourage you to position them anywhere you need them, whether on a porch, away from the house or in the center of the yard.

Ideal for stacking.

Stacking cinder blocks is also a smart practice. To make even higher raised beds, stack smaller blocks together. In general, the height of the bed should be at least 12 inches, although you can comfortably go as far as three feet with cinder blocks.

When piling cinder blocks one on top of another, they don’t have to be the same shape or height. In reality, by layering a smaller block over a larger one, you can achieve a pleasing design aesthetic. When piling, using a brick pattern will render the entire system more sturdy.

Adaptable

Cinder blocks may be seen in a variety of ways. Their neutral grey color blends in with every environment, but they can also be customized with mosaic tiles or paint. If you don’t want them to be grey, paint them whatever colour you want to bring a splash of color to your backyard.

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They can also be stacked in a variety of ways. You may make a border by stacking all of the blocks neatly or staggering them to make a pleasing pattern. To add more dimension to your landscaping, transform some of them outwards, plus use the holes to carry small pots.

Adaptability

When it comes to the scale and form of the raised beds, the cinder block is still very adaptable. These are particularly useful for L-shaped raised beds in corners.

Drawbacks

Lifting a Heavy Item

Since these blocks are very heavy, dealing with them necessitates some strenuous physical labour. It may be a lot of work to move them from the car to your garden and then put them where you like them. These thick cinder blocks are impossible to deal with if you have a sore back.

The weight of these will range from 20 to 40 pounds or even more. Because these are so heavy, you will need to employ somebody to help you, which would increase the expense of your raised bed. But, you should still enlist the assistance of a mate.

Heat Dissipation Is Reduced

Cinderblocks often have the downside of retaining the sun. In the winter, this is generally not a concern since the climate is still cold. Summer sun, on the other hand, will harm the roots of certain plants.

Lacking in Color

Although some people like the grey color of cinder blocks, others can find them too dull as opposed to wood raised beds. And if you don’t have a creative eye and can’t come up with imaginative setups or designs with the cinder blocks, they may appear dull in the garden.

This is entirely a matter of personal preference. Some people like the simplicity of the bricks, whereas others prefer a more exciting garden.

Down in pH

Any cinder blocks leach lime into the earth, reducing the pH and acidifying it. This is not always the case, although it is easily avoidable. You will keep track of any improvements in your cinder block raised bed by testing the pH of your garden soil on a regular basis.

Pros and Cons in Wooden Raised Beds

Pros and Cons in Wooden Raised Beds

Advantages

Aesthetic Improvements

Of all the materials, wood raised beds seem to be the most attractive. They are unquestionably more appealing than cinder blocks. However, this is a bit of a personal preference since certain people can like the look of cinder blocks.

Raised Bed Made-to-Order/Customized

For those who are more skilled in gardening and, definitely, working with wood, wood is a wonderful choice. It’s extremely adjustable, so you can be as imaginative as you like with the sizes and shapes of your garden bed you create.

If you’re going the DIY route and building your own raised bed walls, you can almost cut the wood to whatever size you choose.

Plant-Friendly

If the wood you buy has been medically processed, wood beds are absolutely healthy for you and your plants. It’s great for those who like to select environmentally sustainable choices to maintain their gardens entirely organic.

Installing it is easy.

Wood raised beds, unlike cinder blocks, are relatively simple to build. The wood panels are easier to transfer and raise. They do, however, necessitate the usage of certain equipment during implementation.

Drawbacks

Rather expensive

Your raised bed garden project will cost a lot of money depending on the kind of wood you choose. For example, cedar, the perfect material for raised garden beds, may be very costly. For a modest raised garden, you’ll need to set aside at least $100.

Of course, prices vary greatly based on the kind of wood and where you reside. Stone, on the other side, is usually more costly than cinder bricks.

Untreated wood rots quickly.

Moisture and water will quickly rot wood, rendering it less robust than cinder blocks. All wood is prone to destruction, but untreated wood is particularly so. Untreated wood is normally less expensive, but it won’t last more than three years.

They have a more raw and natural appearance, but they are not the most durable choice. This dilemma can be overcome by using cedar or redwood. This form of wood is naturally pest and moisture tolerant.

Soil Contamination from Treated Wood

It’s been shown that processed wood will leach arsenic into the soil. And this chemical is harmful to your plants, particularly if you’re growing vegetables for consumption.

Prior to 2003, wood was treated with the chromated copper arsenate or chemical CCA. Because of its strong arsenic content, it was subsequently prohibited from handling timber. Instead, they now use copper azole (CA-B) and alkaline copper quat (ACQ).

When purchasing treated wood for your greenhouse, do some analysis and find out what substances were used to process it. Recycled wood made from plastic resin and wood shavings is also an option. These, on the other side, are typically more costly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it Safe to Grow Food with Cinder Blocks?

Cinder blocks are usually believed to be safe for use in food processing. There has been much concern that these, especially fly ash, may leak chemicals into the soil.

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Fly ash was once primarily used in cinder blocks, although it is no longer frequently used. Certain stores, though, offer cinder blocks that have a slight amount of fly ash. These are occasionally produced from recycled products such as old bricks and stones.

The risk is low, particularly if you make sure they’re clean of fly ash. Lining the block with plastic is another method to ensure that no pollutants wind up in the soil.

Is Pressure-Treated Wood Safe to Use in Food Production?

Since 2003, when some bad things such as the compound containing arsenic absolutely were prohibited for use in wood treatment, pressure-treated wood no longer contains arsenic. Pressure-treated timber, on the other hand, is also chemically treated.

There hasn’t been any study done on the chemicals that are actually being used. As a result, it’s difficult to tell if this will contaminate soil and, therefore, your food.

To be extra careful, it’s better to stick to raw wood that hasn’t been handled. Well, that won’t last as long, so you won’t have to think about the chemical pollution of your soil or food.

Is it Necessary to Place Pots in Cinder Blocks?

Yes, instead of bringing in soil and directly planting in them, you may position pots in cinder blocks. These will give the pots an extra layer of security. If you stack them, they will even help lift their height. For the pots, though, stop utilizing garden compost.

Q: What kinds of plants should I grow in a raised bed garden and grow better?

A: Everything from crops and herbs to roses, bulbs, shrubs, and trees may be grown in a raised bed.

Is there a difference between raised-bed planting and traditional gardening?

A: Since raised beds are dryer than surrounding land, they will need more water in the summer. Raised bed planting has a lot of benefits, but you’ll always have to look after your plants well.

Q: Should I build a raised bed from scratch or purchase a kit?

A: Using a raised bed package or building from scratch is a personal choice. You may configure the style, scale, and shape of your raised bed, and it might be less expensive. Other kits, on the other hand, include exclusive features such as irrigation mechanisms and critter-proof linings.

Q: Is it simple to build raised beds?

A: Based on the materials used, constructing a raised bed may be easy or challenging. Raised beds that are lower in height are simpler to build than those that are larger.

Q: What are the different types of products that can be used for raised beds and do better?

A: You can build raised beds out of a number of products, including:

  • • Wood: Rot-resistant woods like redwood, cypress, and cedar are a perfect alternative for raised beds, despite their higher cost. Less robust woods may still be used; however, they would inevitably need to be replaced.
  • • Composite: Composite, which is made up of a combination of plastic and wood, is long-lasting and ideal for use in approved organic gardens.
  • • Masonry: For raised beds, brick, block, and stone are excellent options. For permanent beds, use mortar, or for a good raised bed that can flexibility be disassembled and shifted, use stackable retaining wall bricks.

These materials have sparked a lot of discussions:

  • • Pressure Treated Lumber: For a raised bed, creosote-treated lumber (like railroad ties) and pentachlorophenol-treated (penta) lumber are a no-no. The preservative in some other treated lumber will leach into the soil, which is a point of contention. While tests are yet to prove that treated lumber causes substantial pollution, it is still prohibited in all organic gardens. And if you do use processed timber, make sure it’s CA-B (copper azole) or ACQ (alkaline copper quat), not the arsenic-containing CCA ( named chromated copper arsenate), which absolutely was phased out for most applications in 2004.
  • • Plastic: Gardeners on both sides of this controversy about utilizing plastic products for raised beds are worried about contaminants leaching into the soil. If you do utilize plastic, make sure it is BPA-free and food-safe.

Weed barrier stapled to the top of a wood raised bed.

Q: What is the best size for a raised bed garden?

A: A raised bed garden’s normal diameter is 4 feet, which definitely is narrow enough for you to reach through it on both sides without needing to walk through it. When you just have access to one side of a raised bed, render it 3 feet deep.

A raised bed garden’s duration can vary, but rather long ones can be inconvenient to move through. Allow the aisles between these beds at least 3 feet deep to fit wheelbarrows while placing several beds side by side.

Check out selecting the Right and ideal Size Vegetable Garden for more detail on garden size and yields.

Q: What is the ideal height for a raised bed?

A: The greater the height, the stronger! Higher beds involve fewer stooping and less scratching in the dirt under them. Salad greens and herbs and need 6″ to 12″ of soil, while vegetables need 12″ to 18″ of soil. You may either build your good bed to the appropriate height or till into the current dirt. For wheelchairs or seated gardeners, elevated beds can be 24″ or larger.

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Q: In a raised bed greenhouse, what kind of soil can I use?

A: The best soil possible! The opportunity to monitor the soil is one of the advantages of raised beds. If you get a compost pile, add it into the raised bed dirt. Potting mixes from nearby landscape supplies yards, which can be ordered by the truckload or shipped, still perform well.

In a raised bed greenhouse, combine rich soil with the remaining subsoil.

Q: How do I set up a raised bed in my yard?

A: To avoid a harsh delineation between soil textures, the best-raised beds blend the fresh, fertile soil with the old soil beneath. To do so, you’ll need to cut the lawn, till, and level the field under your raised bed and add in compost and organic matter before finishing off the bed with fresh dirt.

If the bed is deeper than 12 inches, you will usually get away with placing the fresh soil directly on top of the lawn, so to avoid weeds, cover the bottom of the bed with landscape cloth or biodegradable paper first.

Q: Should I create raised beds to provide shade to keep pests out?

A: Raised beds are extremely adaptable; the simplest way is to shape a frame for shade cloths, frost cloths, or bird netting by bending flexible PVC pipe or bamboo into an arch and tucking it into both side of a good raised bed.

Cinder Block and Wood Raised Bed Reviews

Lisa reviews:

What functions well, and what doesn’t, is dictated by local circumstances and planting priorities. In Winnipeg, Manitoba, the soil is mainly clay, the winters are harsh and long, the summers are mild, and the growing season is low. Raised beds and containers perform good for me because they warm up as well as dry out more easily in the spring.

Ruth reviews:

Yes, elevated beds have noticeable mechanical benefits. That is something I can not refuse. That’s why I decided to render the current garden plot a good raised bed, however, budget constraints prevented me from doing so. That’s why all of my other planting areas are either raised beds or containers.

However, in terms of the commonly held belief that raised beds produce healthier plants, I have yet to see this statistically established in my own attempts, and it might seem that I am on the contrary. However, it is too premature to predict and may require years.

Also, last year, when it came to weeds in the in-ground field, I dumped some grass clippings in the garden and scattered them out to cover the barren soil and kill the weeds. I make sure to cut my lawn regularly enough that there are no weed seeds (though I’m sure there are some). I still don’t use some sort of pesticide on my turf, so it isn’t a problem.

While it may not seem to be attractive, it has served my intent (growing food) admirably thus far. As a consequence, I have fewer weeds to dig, and I hope that the rotting grass can fertilize my soil over time. However, this is just an imagine.

BTW, I’m in Zone 6c/6c, so the big pepper plants aren’t representative of my growing region, as peppers aren’t the best crop in my zone unless grown in a protected climate like a greenhouse.

I don’t like clay across my beds because it washes into the fertile soil and forms an almost impenetrable crust on top of it. As a result, when I water my plants, it is difficult for water to enter the healthy soil since it must first penetrate the clay film fully on top.

Donna reviews:

It’s not like there hasn’t been any testing undertaken to see whether cinderblocks cause hazardous chemicals to badly leach into the soil. Using plastic to cover the blocks or boards would merely adjust the possible leachate. BPA is used in almost all plastics, although we don’t know what other plastics can do in the long run. Using unregulated, natural wood, or organically raised straw bales makes sense! You will need to rebuild the wood in five to ten years, but at the very least, you and your family will be healthy. When straw decomposes, it releases nutrients into the earth. Get some more to integrate it! If you like, you may even plant in the bales!

My two cents.

Final thoughts

The decision of a cinder block or a wood raised garden boils down to personal preference. If you’re building a raised bed for the first time in your backyard, a cinder block could be a safer option. If you want a much more natural look and don’t have a budget limit, wood is the way to go.

Herbs like mint, which can be invasive, do well in raised garden beds. These are also great for growing vegetables, so you can use any soil you like and keep track of the plants more effectively.

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