Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - February 13, 2015

From: Austin , TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Need suggestions for material to build a raised bed garden
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I am starting a raised bed garden but cannot find untreated railroad ties or landscape timbers. Does anyone have a source in the Austin or Dripping Springs area? I have tried McCoys, Home Depot, Natural Gardener already but no luck. Thank you.

ANSWER:

It would seem to Mr. Smarty Plants that all wooden railroad cross ties, and wood sold as landscalpe timbers are treated. What you might want to do is consider non wood materias; stone or plastic wood or natural wood that is rot resistant.

This link to University of Missouri Extension discusses several aspects of establishing raised bed gardens. Another link to Better Homes and Gardens  discourages the use of creosote treated cross ties and suggests other materials. Try this link for a list of rot-resistant woods that you might consider. This link to the US Forest Service also has a list of rot-resistant woods.

GIven your location in Dripping Springs, you might consider using Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper) which is rot resistant, and in abundant supply. You might also want to contact the folks at the Travis County Office of Agrilife Extension for their suggestions.

 

More Container Gardens Questions

Failure to thrive of potted blue-green cypress
July 26, 2008 - I received a small 14" potted blue-green cypress for Christmas 2007. Kept it in a bright window, not direct sun. It was doing great until two weeks ago when it started turning brown from the center. ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for a lizard terrarium
October 24, 2006 - My brother is setting up a terrarium for his lizard and wants advice on some species to put in the tank. He wants plants that generally fit the below description. Can you think of anything fairly c...
view the full question and answer

Vine for planter box in Berkeley CA
September 29, 2012 - I live in Berkeley, CA and want to plant a vine to crawl up a trellis on my deck. It gets sun most of the day. I need to use planter boxes because there is only patio below and would like something ...
view the full question and answer

Moving houseplants from New York to Florida
August 02, 2011 - We are relocating to Florida from New York and would like to bring our houseplants with us. Are there any laws forbidding indoor plant transport into Florida???
view the full question and answer

Blossom fall after rain on Polystachys lutea, Shrimp Lollipop
July 17, 2008 - I live in San Antonio and had previously bought shrimp lollipop plants and after the rain we had recently all the blooms fell off. So my question is did it die or should I just leave it alone?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.