I just built a nice planter in my garden,

enter image description here

and would like to plant some flowers and edible vegetables (i.e. corn, tomatoes and more). Should I treat the wood and how?

Let me add a few details:

  • It's made of heart redwood
  • I live in San Gabriel, CA. Not very rainy or cold all year through.

I've been talking to different people and finding info on the internet but none seem to converge to a standard and recognized practice.

  • Some say that redwood does not rot and the only reason to treat it is to prevent it from freezing and cracking once it absorbs water.

  • Others say that you should treat it otherwise it will rot and stain.

  • Another option I was suggested was to use a plastic liner, especially if I want to plant edibles I shouldn't treat it and the plastic liner will prevent it from rot and stain. (But I feel that putting a liner inside would defeat purpose...)

Can anybody please help me figure out which, between all these options (or others if you have any), is the most reasonable thing to do? Considering I would like it to last at least 2/3 yrs and have vegetables growing in it.

Thanks for your assistance!

1 Answer 1


Depends to some extent which grade of redwood you bought - heart redwood is the most resistant to rot and mould, and I'm assuming the wood you've used has been cured (not green wood). I can see why you're confused - it seems you can, if you want to, varnish the wood, but this isn't essential, though an excessive number of knots might mean you'd be better off varnishing it. Lining it with plastic not only won't stop it rotting as quickly, it may exacerbate the process, so I wouldn't recommend that.

More important is whether there's drainage at the bottom of the bed, that is, it's not standing on an unbroken hard surface which will mean poorer drainage. You've described it as a 'planter' and a 'bed', so I'm not sure which you mean - a raised bed is a structure placed on soil, or with access to some soil at the bottom, whereas a planter has a bottom, hopefully with good drainage holes and slightly raised off the ground beneath to allow free drainage. Nice looking structure you've made!

  • thanks for the compliment and for the answer! By your definitions I believe it is a planter. In fact it has a bottom lifted from the ground and the boards composing the bottom are slightly separated in order to provide some drainage. The wood is unfinished heart redwood. So you believe it will last long enough even if not treated as long as it has a good drainage? Consider I'll be watering it daily. Thanks again a lot
    – Matteo
    Aug 11, 2014 at 20:55
  • Nice answer. I usually only varnish for appearance sake. These can last over ten years with regular maintenance. @Matteo Good job building it. Look better than a catalog pic.
    – J. Musser
    Aug 12, 2014 at 0:17
  • @Matteo - yes, in answer to your comment, I do believe it will last for years, and J. Musser's comment confirms that opinion. Pity you're not in the UK, I'd ask you to build me one, its so attractive.
    – Bamboo
    Aug 12, 2014 at 12:05
  • Great thanks for your suggestions! I hope it will last that long ;)
    – Matteo
    Aug 13, 2014 at 16:13

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