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April 09, 2012

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Tony Jones

The guy at Home Depot said that arsenic is no longer used in treated lumber. True?

craig

Tony,
I think it depends on what kind of treatment but the general rule still stands. Don't use treated lumber. Douglas fir lumber is cheap and should last 10 years. Some people line the inside edges of the lumber with plastic to extend its life. Cedar timber is an alternative that probably costs about the same as treated lumber.
Happy gardening,
Craig

Laura H.

I've been tempted to turn my front yard into a veggie garden, however I've been warned that I could kill my two mature 50+ yo cherry trees (1 bing & 1 rainier). I've already modified a few beds that already existed, adding four blueberry bushes and a mini-herb garden, and 80sq.ft. of jerusalem artichoke beds, but for the most part I've kept beds away from the tree bases. Do you know what a safe distance from the base of the trees would be? Should I just bite the bullet and install raised beds around my trees? Should I be afraid of choking out the trees if I install beds?

craig

Laura,
Good question. You can expect the root footprint to be roughly equal to the spread of branches above ground. It's probably wise to keep you garden beds outside this root zone for the health of the trees and the garden beds. Those roots under ground absorb a lot of water and will draw moisture away from anything planted above them. The main concern would be digging into the soil and disrupting the root structure of the trees underground so raised beds nearby the trees may be a good solution. You'll also want to place the garden beds someplace that has good sun exposure, at least 6 hours, so that's another good reason to avoid putting beds under or too near the tree canopies. It might be worth calling a trusted arborist to come out and take a look and give expert advice on how to keep the trees healthy.

Good luck.

Craig

Steve Garer

Nice display of pictures. It has taken us 29 years of tinkering and I'm not sure we still are done.

Steve in Central CA

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