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The Characteristics of Cedar Wood and Why It’s Ideal for Raised Garden Beds

With the variety of material options to build a raised garden beds from, we decided to discuss why we chose cedar wood for our raised garden beds.
Along with its unmistakably rich aroma, cedar has a variety of beautiful characteristics and functional characteristics that make it unique and practical to use for building a raised garden bed.


On today’s episode, I’m going to be talking to you about cedar wood and the different characteristics of it and what makes it a really great wood to build raised garden beds from.

Three Common Physical Characteristics of Cedar Garden Boards

Hi everyone, I’m Bryan Traficante from and this is Episode 13 of ‘Easy Growing’. So to get things started with the different characteristics, the first thing you’ll notice is that cedar wood comes in a variety of colors. This is because of the different levels of tannins within the boards themselves. So you can everything from white, to kind of pinkish, to a tan, all the way down to a kind of a mocha brown color. And this is all the exact same type of wood, just different levels of tannin from tree to tree that gives it this really unique characteristic to make your garden bed from, that you might not see with other types of wood.

Something else you’ll notice is that cedar has knots, just like most other kinds of boards. It adds a variety of characteristic to it, along with the different colors you’ll see. You’ll see small knots, large knots, and basically a variety of them across all the different boards you have. It doesn’t affect the integrity of the wood, it just kind of gives it more character.

The last piece that you’ll notice with cedar is that it’s prone to something called checking, where more or less the grain of the wood as it dries out, separates slightly on the surface level. So it adds this fine line down the grain of the wood. Now it might look like it’s a split, but it’s much different. It’s not something that’s going to affect the integrity of the wood or the quality wood. And actually what I’ll do is I’ll zoom-in right now, that we can take a look at it and see what it looks like and kind of give you a closer look at the different characteristics that I was just talking about; from the colors, to the knots, and of course the checking. So here we go!

A Closer Look at Our Cedar Garden Bed Board Characteristics

Alright so here we are. These are the different boards I was just showing you. You can see the wide range of colors, you can see across the spectrum for cedar. It’s really, really incredible some of the different varieties you can get. Something that of course you’ll see are knots across the board just like this. Nothing wrong with them. They just give you some pretty unique characteristics to it as you build out your garden bed. Then something else that you’ll notice is something called checking, which is this… I’ll try to focus in for you… right there. So it’s basically just a very surface level, minor split of the grain from the board drying out. Totally normal and again, another area of characteristic to add.

Alright, so those are the typical characteristics of cedar – you have a wide range of colors, you’re going to have some knots, you can have a little bit of light checking – but all in all it gives you this incredible characteristic of the wood for your raised garden bed that you might not get with a vinyl, or a composite, or some other types of wood.

What Makes Cedar Ideal for Raised Garden Boards

Now what we’ll do is we’ll get to the functionality of cedar. Why is it a good wood for a garden bed to begin with. To get started with that… it’s a lot more rot resistant over time. It doesn’t absorb water as quickly and rot away as quickly as other soft woods like pine. It’s also naturally insect resistant because of the extractives that are in the wood. It’s just not something that pests like to eat. Fortunately like I said, it’s a natural defense over time that’s developed, which is fantastic for us and allows you to build your garden bed and not worry about termites as much as you would with something like pine or a softer wood.

The last bit for cedar is that it has incredible linear strength meaning that the board itself, you would have to apply a lot more pressure to this or to bend it or break it.
And because of that you won’t see the wood bowing when you fill your garden bed all the way with soil. We use 1-3/4″ boards. If you use 3/4″ boards the cedar is still a fantastic wood to use, but it will bow just because you have something that’s about half the thickness, it just won’t have the same total strength. But overall cedar is just a fantastic wood  to grow a garden with. It’s going to last longer than a softer wood and it gives you some really, really unique characteristics to look forward to.

Alright! That’s it for Episode #13. Thank you all so much for watching. Leave your comments and questions below. I’ll see you next time.

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